Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014



Bataan is more than just about the lessons of World War II. The peninsula is also about peace that was obtained from victory over tyranny and personal ambitions. It has long moved forward from being the infamous location of the Death March that claimed 10,000 Filipino and American lives. It's quite accessible from various directions in Luzon for being less than two hours away from Metro Manila and just minutes away from selected points in neighboring Central Luzon provinces. As a result, tourism is booming and local culture is enhanced.

There are a lot of interesting attractions to see in the province. From memorial markers to natural wonders, Bataan can be one blissful destination to experience. compiled some of them here for you to use in a possible visit soon:

Robinsons Galleria Victoria Mall
Balanga Wetland and Nature Park
Summit of Mount Samat in Pilar

Shrine of Valor At Mount Samat

The town of Pilar is excessively promoted in numerous school textbooks across the country for being the home of the 92-meter Shrine of Valor (Dambana Ng Kagitingan in Tagalog), a memorial venue to commemorate the bravery of Filipinos and Americans who lost their lives in World War II in the defense of freedom.

The panorama of the peninsula looks spectacular from the memorial cross' viewing gallery that's a floor away from the topmost level. They are separated into two wings for optimized viewing pleasure. Both have glass windows that allow for various views of the landscape.

Memorial Cross at Mount Samat in Pilar
Air conditioning is not an issue at the summit of the mountain where the towering structure stands as it's breezy most of the time. At the base of the cross, which is 555 meters above sea level, neighboring towns in Bataan can be seen with the naked eye. Interesting artistic details on the main door of the cross and the whole structure's exterior slabs and relief were designed by architect Lorenzo Del Castillo.

The Majestic Colonnade

Just a distance away but still in the same premises is the colonnade which looked nondescript from the base steps at its entrance. From the same point, you can only see the Philippine flag being waved proudly on a pole. However, an easy climb of the expansive stairs will reveal a majestic platform fronted by two pedestals in the form of gigantic urns made of bronze. At best, both look epic enough to be essential props to some Roman Empire-inspired Hollywood movie. Walking past both should exude the vibe of a fiery and lasting legacy. And it's exactly what those bronze elements represent -- eternal flame.

Colonnade at Mount Samat in Pilar
Colonnade at Mount Samat in Pilar

Walking inside the colonnade itself gives any guest the feeling of awe with its airy and regal esplanade that's surrounded by marble-clad parapets or decorative barriers. At the center is an altar that quietly stands against imposing stained glass panels designed by University of Santo Tomas graduate and artist, Cenon Rivera. The two most striking features of the sacred space are the set of four bronze chandeliers that hang as accents from the high ceiling and the marble wall that depicts the narrative of the battle of Bataan.

Both the shrine and the colonnade are being managed  by the Department of National Defense and Philippine Veterans Affairs Office.

Surrender Memorial

Surrender Memorial

Bataan's role as a location for the surrender of American Major General Edward P. King on April 9, 1942 is both poignant and remarkable. It was an event about human frailty and the pursuit of freedom. It was in the province where the tragic instrument of surrender -- a piece of paper -- was signed for the Japanese press propaganda to use. Now immortalized inside the compound of the Balanga Elementary school as a life-sized monument fronting the HAS Club-initiated Bataan WWII Museum, the memorial seems to whimper on a daily basis the howls of terror and desperation of old Bataan and the rest of captured Philippines.

Bataan WWII Museum

A visit of the marker is not complete without stepping inside the next-lot museum which houses a couple of exciting dioramas of more than 120 dolls depicting the Death March (including a represented aeta), informative displays about the history of Bataan (with one tarp showing the two dormant volcanoes called Natib and Mariveles), a few war artifacts, and a video summary. The museum is in partnership with the city government, including the Department of Education-Bataan and the Bataan Tourism Office.

A diorama at the Bataan WWII Museum
Another diorama at the Bataan WWII Museum
Balanga Wetland and Nature Park
Balanga Cathedral
The view from the Memorial Cross of Mount Samat in Pilar

Bird-watching At The Balanga Wetland and Nature Park

Conceived as a natural outdoor museum, the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park caters mostly to students and bird enthusiasts as there is an influx of rare endemic and migratory birds that consider the venue a haven. Launched only four years ago, the attraction is poised to promote environment appreciation among locals and guests. There are viewing decks for vantage points to see the various creatures in flight. Some can be elusive so binoculars can be requested from the operator.

The Balanga Cathedral

A visit of Bataan is not complete without dropping by its capital's cathedral in Balanga. It was converted in World War II by the Japanese soldiers as an artillery emplacement to bombard Mount Samat where the Filipino and American soldiers made their famous last stand. At sunset, it is cast as a beautiful silhouette against the golden hour sky with its back to the sun. Right next to the church sits a quiet columbarium.

The viewing deck at Balanga Wetland and Nature Park
Bataan Tourism Center

A must-visit is the Bataan Tourism Center for having everything about the province under one air conditioned roof. With a University of Santo Tomas architecture graduate currently at the helm of things at the center, the place looks sleek and sophisticated without losing the local charm. There's a viewing room for tourism-oriented videos, a studio museum that houses life-sized models of life in Bataan especially during World War II, and a colorful display of various products produced in the province. Outside, there's ample parking for coasters or big student-filled buses that usually ply the highways from key cities in other provinces and Metro Manila.

The Plaza Hotel-Balanga

A visit of numerous attractions in Bataan is not enough to do within a day, so a stay at a swank hotel in the city capital of Balanga is necessary. It's conveniently located at the Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga (city plaza) and next to the Robinson's Galleria Victoria Mall. Read more about The Plaza Hotel-Balanga here.

Bataan Tourism Center
Staying at The Plaza Hotel-Balanga
The Plaza Hotel-Balanga
Watch a short video of Behold Bataan:

There are more to see in Bataan:

Read about the Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga here.

Read about the Bagac Friendship Tower here.

Read about the heritage-inspired resort Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar here.

Special thanks to the Bataan Tourism Office for providing assistance to my tour of the province

Bataan WWII Museum

Address: Balanga Elementary School compound, Jose P. Rizal St., Balanga City, Bataan, Philippines
Phone: 0918-910-4746

Balanga Wetland and Nature Park and Bataan Tourism Center

Official website of Balanga Wetland and Nature Park and Bataan Tourism Center

Address: City of Balanga Tourism Office, Roman Highway, 2100 Balanga, Bataan, Philippines
Phone: (63) (047) 791-4008

More Photos Below:

Inside the Memorial Cross at Mount Samat in Pilar
Balanga Cathedral
At the Bataan Tourism Center
The view of the city plaza and Balanga Cathedral from the city mall
Narra trees dot both sides of Capitol Drive
Bataan Tourism Center
Memorial Cross
Arriving at the summit of Mount Samat
The well-maintained road at Mount Samat


  1. There is just so much to explore in this place .would love to come back to see them all...

  2. I totally agree. I want to experience the new beachfront villas at Las Casas de Acuzar soon, Love Mindanao!


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