Coming from Las Casas Filipinas in Bagac, Bataan, you can take a tricycle to the jeepney terminal going to Samat.* Beside the jeepney station, you’ll find a memorial called the Philippine-Japanese Friendship Tower.
The tower consists of three 27-meter high pillars connected by rings. It was erected by the Risshō Kōsei Kai, a Japanese Buddhist lay organization, and inaugurated on April 8, 1975 on the day the Japanese celebrate the birth of Buddha. This day is coincidentally the eve of the Philippine Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan) which commemorates the fall of Bataan to the Empire of Japan and the Bataan Death March during the Second World War.
The tower holds a Buddhist bell, a symbol of peace and friendship between the Japanese and Filipino people, with inscriptions in three languages: Nippongo, Tagalog and English. Likewise, the narrative markers are in three languages. Looking up from the base of the tower, you will see a beautiful pattern of the overlapping rings.
Though our past was a bloodbath, we as a nation have risen as brave and strong people. The friendship we have forged with our old enemies, as symbolized by the edifice of friendship at this site, helped us reconcile with our past to move on strong and dauntless.
* Somewhere along the way, you will pass by the zero-kilometer marker for the Death March. In 1942, the Japanese army forced some 76,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war to walk a distance of 88 kilometers from this point to internment camps. Nearly 10,000 of the prisoners, weakened by hunger and disease and unable to endure the tropical heat, expired along the way.
HOW TO GET THERE
1. If taking the bus, take Bataan Transit from Cubao in Quezon City or Avenida in Manila. The fare is about P200 and the trip may take 3 to 4 hours.
2. From the terminal of Bataan Transit, take a short walk to the Bataan Transport Terminal.
3. Take a jeepney to Bagac. The fare is about P50 and the trip takes about 45 to 60 minutes. Tell the driver to drop you off at the junction where the tower is located.
4. If coming from Las Casas, take a tricycle. The fare is P10, and the short trip takes less than 5 minutes.