Travel Photography Philippines: Trailing History of Bataan

May 03, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

The province of Bataan is most often associated with its rich history. The Battle of Bataan is famous for being one of the last stands of American and Filipino soldiers before they were overwhelmed by the Japanese forces during World War II. The Bataan Death March was also named after the province, where the infamous march started.



Bataan rings a chord in the heart of every Filipino. It is a symbol of democracy and freedom – a memorial to the gallant Filipino-American defenders of Bataan who fought decisive battles that delayed the timetable of the well-equipped and better trained Japanese Imperial forces, and changed the course of history in the Pacific.

Obscure and relatively unknown before World War II, Bataan was founded in 1754 by Governor General Pedro Manuel Arandia. The region was divided into two parts – The Corregimiento of Mariveles and the province of Pampanga. The towns of Mariveles, Bagac, Morong, and Maragondong, Cavite comprised the Corregimiento of Mariveles which was under the jurisdiction of the Recollect Order of the Roman Catholic Church. The province of Pampanga included the towns of Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Abucay, Samal, Orani, Llana Hermosa, and San Juan de Dinalupihan. The group was under the charge of the Dominican Order.

The Dominicans founded Abucay on June 10, 1588, Samal on April 30, 1641, Orion April 30, 1667, Orani and Balanga on April 21, 1714, Llana Hermosa May 8, 1756 and Pilar March 10, 1901. The three towns on the western side-Mariveles, Bagac and Morong  were founded by the Franciscans in about 1578.

Bataan has more than its share of significant historical events: in 1574, the dreaded Chinese Limahong used Lusong point at the western side of Bataan as a landing place; in 1647, the Dutch Naval Forces perpetrated the Abucay Massacre; and the Bataan Death March to Capas, Tarlac started in the municipalities of Mariveles and Bagac. Today, touching commemorative shrines are dedicated to the memory of those who resisted the Japanese occupation – a bayonet thrust into the ground with a helmet  symbolically slung over the riffle butt to mark the start of the Death March; and the imposing “Dambana ng Kagitingan” on top of Mt. Samat in Pilar, Bataan.

Bataan is a province faced with a challenge. It is on the verge of becoming both an extensive industrialization hub and a tourist haven which may well be the equivalent of the dynamic force it exuded in its historic past.

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Early morning at Morong Beach


The Flaming Sword in Pilar

The Flaming Sword, located at Panilao, Pilar, is an eye-catching landmark that depicts a hand holding a flaming sword up in the air. This landmark became the symbol of the Filipino patriots' courage and gallantry as they face the adversary and threats to their democracy and freedom. The ESPADA was inaugurated on April 8, 1967.


Walking vendor selling plastic basin in Pilar


Inside Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church

In 1801, Our Lady of the Pillar Parish Church (Nuestra Señora del Pilar Parish Church, belongs to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Balanga (Dioecesis Balangensis) Suffragan of San Fernando, Pampanga Created: March 17, 1975. Canonically Erected: November 7, 1975. Comprises the whole civil province of Bataan).

Pilar is one of the twelve towns of Bataan, also known as the Civil Province and Peninsula of Bataan. It was organized in 1754 as a province by Don Pedro Manuel Arandia, the governor-general in the Philippines. The moniker, “Last Bastion of Filipino and American Courage and Bravery”, is owned by Pilar until this day. Its Feast day is 9 April, the Araw ng Kagitingan.

The 7th town and parish founded by the Dominican Fathers after Abucay (1588), Samal (1596), Orion (1667), Orani (1714), Balanga (1739) and Hermosa (1757), Pilar was made an independent vicariate on March 10, 1801. The Secular clergy replaced all regular Spanish religious missionaries including Bataan.


Banga Festival Street Dance, Balanga

The Banga Festival is a week long event celebrated in the city of Balanga City, Bataan. It is said that the name Balanga, which is the capital of Bataan, came from the word “banga,” the tagalog term for pot used in cooking. The Banga Festival is celebrated to remind the Balangueños of their humble beginnings. The festival is celebrated alongside the feast of St. Joseph in April 28. 

Street Dancer, Banga Festival

Banga Festival


Balanga Catholic Church Belfry at Night in Galeria Victoria


Balanga Wetland and Nature Park in Tortugas

Balanga Wetland and Nature Park lies on approximately 11 hectares coastal and estuarine area in one of the seaside village of Balanga City, called Barangay Tortugas. Before the park was originally conceived as a “Baypark” with plans for concreted boardwalks and reclaimed areas. But later on development started gradually. To preserve its ecological veracity the place was boosted with facilities such as Information Center & Exhibit area, 2 Viewing deck and Picnic Huts.

The Department of Tourism recognized the place as one of the newest developed birdwatching sites in the Philippines. Officially launched on December 10, 2010 and strengthened by the initial celebration of the City’s very own local bird festival called “ IBONG DAYO FESTIVAL”. 

Besides birdwatching a lot of activities can also be done in this park like mangrove planting, coastal clean-up, stargazing, boat riding, kite flying, jogging, walking, sightseeing, biking and also a place for family bonding.

Fisherman at COB Wetland

Balanga Wetland


Visiting Mt. Samat and some mural sculptures

Winding Road to Mount Samat National Shrine

Mount Samat National Shrine or Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valour) is a historical shrine located near the summit of Mount Samat in the town of Pilár, Bataan. The memorial shrine complex was built to honor and remember the gallantry of Filipino and American soldiers who fought during World War II. I 

Consisting of a Colonnade and the large Memorial Cross, the park was commissioned in 1966 by then-President Ferdinand Marcos, himself a War Veteran, for the 25th Anniversary of WW2. The white Memorial Cross stands as a remembrance to the soldiers who fought and lost their lives in the Battle of Bataan. The shrine complex also includes a war museum with a wide array of collections from paintings of the Philippine heroes, to armaments used by the Filipino, American and Japanese forces during the battle.

From the colonnade and the cross, there is a panoramic view of Bataan, Corregidor Island and on a clear day, the city of Manila situated about 50 km (31 mi) across Manila Bay.

Mt. Samat Cross - Pilar, BataanMt. Samat Cross - Pilar, BataanMt. Samat Cross - Pilar, Bataan
Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valour)


Beautiful Sunset at Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar

Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar is a stunning heritage property located in Bagac, Bataan just a few hours drive from Manila, Las Casas will prove to be an incredible experience filled with culture, relaxation and old world charm. Romantic cobblestone streets where old-fashioned caruajes roam freely, stunning colonial houses at every corner reconstructed plank by plank, beautiful metal sculptures and bridges will take you back to a different time. It’s a great way to learn about the Philippines' colorful culture - a history lesson without the textbook.

Twilight at Las Casas Filipinas

ARJ-BATAAN-042216-88.jpgARJ-BATAAN-042216-88.jpg Las Casas along Umagol River

Las Casas Filipinas at Night

ARJ-BATAAN-042216-79.jpgARJ-BATAAN-042216-79.jpg Dunsulan Waterfalls

Dunsulan Falls is located at the foot of Mount Samat, northeast of the National Shrine in Brgy Liyang, also in Pilar town. Dunsulan falls and river is the main drainage on the crater side of Mount Samat.



By private transportation/car:

  • If you’re driving from Manila, you can take the North Luzon Expressway and take either the San Fernando toll exit or the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX).
  • Upon exiting San Fernando, proceed to Jose Abad Santos Ave, (formerly Olangapo-Gapan Road) all the way to Lubao Pampanga and Dinalupihan Bataan.
  • At the Layac junction, take the road leading to Roman Super Highway on the left (right turn leads to Olangapo City) all the way to the City Center of Balanga, Bataan.
  • Via SCTEX, take the Dinalupihan exit and turn right at Roman Super Highway.
  • Travel time is 2-3 hours by car depending on the traffic. It’s best to leave Manila early morning or after lunch to avoid the rush hour.

By public transportation/bus:

  • From Manila, the easiest way to get to Bataan is by bus.
  • Bus lines include Genesis, Bataan Transit, Sinulog and Victory Liner (the last two pass only Dinalupihan and go to Olongapo rather than Balanga.)
  • Genesis has terminals in Pasay (beside the MRT Terminal) and Avenida (at the back of Philippine Rabbit terminal).
  • Bataan Transit has terminals in Avenida (beside Genesis) and in Cubao (same terminal as 5 Star buses).
  • Travel time by bus is about 3 hours. The bus fare is about P200 per person.




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