Did you know that Bataan is where the infamous Death March happened? Bataan may have had a tormenting past, but the province and its people have since risen from this part of Philippine history.
And through the years, the region has developed, and has become a destination of its own. There are plenty of interesting sites like markers and monuments that can be found all over the province (perfect for history buffs); as well outdoor adventures that thrill seekers will surely enjoy.
1. Bataan Tourism Center
Your first stop in Bataan should be the Bataan Tourism Center, as it houses the Provincial Tourism Office. It also has its own Exhibit Hall, Audio Visual Room, and a Pasalubong Center selling Bataan’s best products, handicrafts and delicacies.
It’s not called “the first and only one-stop-shop tourism center in the Philippines” for nothing. You can also approach any of their courteous staff if you’d like a more guided tour of the city.
Make sure that you visit BTC’s Exhibit Hall, as it contains several artifacts that show glimpses of Bataan’s past (from warfare items to current paintings made by the local talents). A life-size World War II Diorama is also on display, which shows certain scenes (complete with descriptions) that were taken during the ill-famed Death March.
Every year, the region pays tribute to all of the Filipino fighters who fought during WWII. And it’s through the observance of the Day of Valor (also known as the Araw ng Kagitingan) that both our living and fallen heroes are honorably recognized for their courageous efforts and sacrifices.
You can even join Bataan’s annual celebration every April. It’s when noteworthy personalities like our veterans and the Philippine President grace the occasion at the Shrine of Valor — Bataan’s renowned icon.
The Shrine of Valor (also known as the Dambana ng Kagitingan) is located on Mt. Samat in Pilar town. The memorial cross, which is 92 meters high, is made out of steel. The national monument stands as a reminder for all of the brave souls who fought and defended Bataan.
You’ll also find a marble colonnade just a few steps below the shrine. It has its own esplanade, museum, and altar. A set of war-related figures can also be seen around its white-painted columns.
3. Hardin ni Balagtas sa Orion (Garden of Balagtas in Orion)
If you’re familiar with the “Balagtasan,” or have joined or watched one, then you’ve been introduced to its origins. Named after Francisco Balagtas (known for his knowledge on Filipino literature), a Balagtasan is a show that is done amongst debating poets who converse using lyrical verses. One great example of this is Florante at Laura. And to honor his legacy, a garden where his monument stands was formed to recognize his mark in Philippine history.
4. Saint Dominic de Guzman Church (Abucay Church)
The Saint Dominic de Guzman Church (Abucay Church) is a great place to say your prayers when visiting Bataan. The 17th-century Baroque cathedral (located at Barangay Laon, Abucay) is known as one of the first religious foundations in Bataan that the Dominican missionaries named after the founder of the Order of Preachers, Saint Dominic de Guzman.
5. Tomas Pinpin Momument
You’ll also find the Tomas Pinpin Monument just right outside the church. Tomas Pinpin, a Bataan native (born in Abucay) is also a significant figure in the Philippines. He was the first Filipino printer who was able to publish and print a book in 1610, thus being dubbed as the “Patriarch of Filipino Printing.”
You can also visit the Plaza Mayor De Ciudad de Balanga. The best time to enjoy the grounds is at night because it’s where you will find a vibrant show of fountain lights that dance to the beat of the music.
Just a short walk from the Plaza Mayor De Ciudad de Balanga is the Saint Joseph Cathedral (Balanga Cathedral). The church was used as a site for weaponry attacks during the Japanese invasion. Despite its harrowing history, the house of worship continues to stand with much dignity and beauty.
8. Mount Samat Zipline and Tree-Hopping Adventure
If you’re not into biking or hiking some of Bataan’s interesting terrains, you can just try the Mt. Samat Zipline and Tree-Hopping Adventure. Going up to the summit won’t be a problem, as a shuttle bus can take you up to the location. The view that you will see while riding the zipline is spectacular so make sure to include this stop in your itinerary.
Once you get down from the Zipline, you can immediately proceed to the Tree-Top Adventure site. The park, which is located at Dunsulan Park in Pilar, offers six stages for guests to try: the Hanging Stairway, Elvis Dangle, Monkey Bridge, Surfboard Zipline, Kung Swing, and Hanging Bridge.
You can cool down at Dunsulan Falls after an adventure packed day, as it’s just a short walk from the last treetop course. A quick dip is something that you can freely do while you’re there. Note that Dunsulan Falls in Pilar is around 5 meters high, and is located at the back of Mt. Samat.
Where to Eat
One of the eateries that you should try in Bataan is Ima Flora’s Pamangan. If you’re looking for an array of Filipino cuisines, you will definitely find the best-tasting local dishes from this buffet restaurant. You can find them along National Road Ala-Uli in Pilar. Make sure to reserve a table or at least come in early, as the place fills up quite fast.
And should you find yourself strolling at the Plaza Mayor De Ciudad de Balanga, then make your way to the Galleria de Victoria Mall, and look for Stregato Gelateria. Not only does the restaurant exude a charming ambiance, they also offer a great selection of cakes, gelato and meals. The place is definitely Instagram-worthy.
Where to Stay
One of the famous landmarks in Bataan is The Plaza Hotel Balanga. The hotel offers pleasant rooms with a view of the Plaza Mayor De Ciudad de Balanga. Its location is perfect, as it’s close to several tourist sites and food establishments. But if you’re looking for a different lodging, you can also try Crown Royale Hotel along Capitol Drive.
Balanga City, Bataan
+63 47 237 1037
How to Reach Bataan
Bataan is easily accessible from Manila via land travel (a 2-3 hour drive). If you’re taking a private vehicle, make sure to take NLEX, and exit at San Fernando, Pampanga. From here, go towards Jose Abad Santos Avenue, all the way to Dinalupihan. You can also go through SCTEX, and take the road towards Subic. You can take the Dinalupihan exit here as well.
If you’re traveling via public transportation from Manila to Bataan, you can ride a Balanga-bound bus via Genesis or Bataan Transit.