Travel: Discover Bataan, Central Luzon’s historical hub

The recent celebration of Bataan Day (more popularly known as Araw ng Kagitingan) got me thinking about how little I know the land of my paternal grandmother’s birth. I can’t be blamed for it, however, since I only stayed at MommyLo’s house in Tenejero, near the outskirts of the provincial capital of Balanga. Fortunately, I had the chance to visit one of Bataan’s famous tourist attractions—Mount Samat and its very large (and I mean humongous) cross.

Cesky in Mount Samat CrossThe photograph on the right, taken when I was barely into my second year, shows me standing on the sill of a viewing port inside the massive Mt. Samat cross.

So off I went on a virtual tour of the province and what I found on this journey startled me more than I am willing to admit. It turned out there were more than a dozen more places and twice that number of things to do in Bataan.

Here’s a brief list of the province’s top tourist attractions:

Historical Landmarks

First Line of Defense Marker (Layac)
Site of the first strong defense line of the combined forces of the 71st division of the American forces, 31st and 26th Infantry Regiment, in January 1942.

Dambana ng KagitinganShrine of Valor (Dambana ng Kagitingan, Pilar)
Natural shrine atop Mt. Samat which immortalizes the agony of the Filipino and Americans against the forces of aggression and articulates the Commitment of the Filipino people to freedom and dignity.

Zero-Kilometer Death March Marker (Bagac)
Site of the start of the Death March in Bagac. A similar Death Marker can be found in Mariveles.

General King Marker (Lamao)
Site of General Edward King Jr.’s first attempt to deliver Bataan into the hands of the enemy in his effort to save the lives of his men who were starved and sick due to the delay of supplies from the U.S.

Surrender Site Marker (Balanga City)
Found in the compound of Balanga Elementary School, it is the site of the formal surrender of Bataan.

Pilar Flaming Sword (Panilao, Pilar)
Pilar Flaming Sword A symbol of Filipino courage and gallantry in the face of adversary and external threats to the nation’s democracy and peace. My dad calls this monument “Voltes V’s Laser Sword”—whatever that means.

Sto. Domingo Abucay Church (Abucay)
414-year-old church constructed in 1587 in the rich Spanish style of the day, and a living witness to the massacre of more than 200 native defenders from the hands of Dutch invaders on June 16, 1647.

Tomas Pinpin Monument (Ibayo, Abucay)
Stands in loving memory of the First Filipino Printer.

Maria Canon Statue (Sibul, Abucay)
Tower erected by the Mie-ken Daiichi Shyeeseo of the Japanese Sohyohshnh Sports in 1978 to invoke the repose of dead souls from the WWII period.

Balanga Catholic Church Belfry (Balanga City)
Once used as the site for the Japanese artillery bombardment of Mt. Samat where Filipino and American forces took their last stand in Bataan.

Philippine-Japanese Friendship Tower (Bagac)
Symbol of a post-WW II period of reconciliation, peace, and friendship between the once warring nations.

Natural Attractions

Dunsulan Falls

Dunsulan Falls (Pilar)
An enchanting spectacle in the heart of a forested hill behind the famous Mt. Samat in Pilar. Ideal site for picnic and swimming.

Pasukulan Falls (Abucay)
A natural wonder in the valley of Mt. Natib which remains unexplored and unspoiled. Fresh vegetation abound. Ideal for picnics.

Dinalupihan Natural Parks (Dinalupihan)
An unspoiled forest area ideal for picnics and camping activities with facilities for irrigation and game hunting. The surrounding area is great for day hikes and trekking.

Mt. Natib (Orani)
A dormant volcano rising to 1,253 meters that provides a commanding view of the surrounding towns. It offers mountain climbers and nature lovers not only the pleasant cool mountain air but also a lush growth including exotic plant species and rare wildlife.

Balon Anito (Mariveles)
Called the “dead volcano,” it is frequented by elderly people who go to soak their feet in the water of the therapeutic hot spring at the mouth of the volcano.

Sibul Spring (Abucay)
A potential prime tourist destination in the province boasting sulfuric swimming pools and a wide area for outdoor recreation. Its main attraction is the natural spring believed able to provide muscle pain relief.

Mt. Silangan (Morong)
Boasts of an 80-foot high waterfall that cascades to a pool of refreshing cool water.

Many thanks to www.mybataan.com and the Bataan provincial government.

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6 Responses

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    The swimming greats you should write about next, my ex was an olympic swimmer!

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