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Roadtrip: 10 Places to visit in Bataan during an overnight stay

Beyond Manila, the Philippines is very rich in historical sites that have seen the rise and fall of the country. Centuries-old stories continue to be passed on from generation to generation, especially in places like Bataan – which stood witness to World War II and the Bataan Death March. Manila Millennial recently took a quick trip to this place located in western Luzon, which would normally just take a 3 to 4-hour drive from Manila, but since we left during Holy Week, it took us around 6 hours just to reach our first destination. Good thing we were riding a comfy Chevy! In case you’re also planning to drive by, here’s a list of what to expect, parking areas you should know, and entrance fees in each site:

1.Ima Flora’s Pamangan

Before exploring Bataan’s historical heritage, we dropped by Ima Flora’s Pamangan to try homemade Kapampangan specialties. Here, you only need to pay P230 for a buffet that includes a lot of seafood! You can also buy regular meals which will only cost you around P100 (depending on your viand) if you’re  not up to the eat-all-you-can challenge.

Buffet for P230
‘Pasalubong’ on your way back

Location: Gov. JJ Linao Highway, Pilar, Bataan

Entrance Fee: None

Parking: Street Parking

2. Flaming Sword Monument

It’s hard not to notice the Flaming Sword Monument if you drive by Pilar. This gigantic hand and sword is a historical landmark which symbolizes the bravery of the soldiers – both Filipino and American, that fought for our nation’s freedom. During the Death March, this was the location where USAFFE (United States Army Forces in the Far East) troops from Bagac and Mariveles converged to head to Tarlac. You’ll also see a lot of Death March Markers on the way to this the area.

For freedom!
Death March marker

Location: Junction of Gov. Joaquin J. Linao Highway and National Highway, in front of Pilar Municipal Hall, Pilar, Bataan

Entrance Fee: None

Parking: Street Parking

3.World War II Museum

Artifacts, dioramas, photos, abundant stories about the war, and the infamous Surrender Site Monument are all located in this mini museum at the back of an elementary school. Aside from the remnants of the war that are on display, the stories of retired teachers who serve as the museum’s tour guides are just as historically rich. They were able to live through the war and you can feel how much they value peace in the country through every word they say. Outside the museum, you’ll find the Surrender Site Monument that shows officers discussing and signing USAFFFE’s surrender. There’s also an eerie bathroom at the left side of the museum, which was said to have been used as a torture room during the war.

Facade of the World War II Museum
Surrender Site Monument
The Torture Room

Location: Behind Balanga Elementary School, Jose Basa Street, Balanga, Bataan

Entrance Fee: P50 each

Parking: School Grounds

4. Mariveles View Park

You’ll have a breathtaking view of the bay from Mariveles View Park, located at the summit. This is the perfect spot for taking photos and for appreciating the magnificent view. More people visit this spot before sunset! We dropped by this view park before driving down towards Sisiman Bay – which can also be seen from this site.

View from the Mariveles View Park
Photo op!

Location: Baseco-Sisiman Diversion Road, Mariveles, Bataan

Entrance Fee: None

Parking: Street Parking

5. Sisiman Bay

Clear waters, huge rocks, an enormous mountain, and plenty of seafood can be found in this boulder beach by an off-road track to the Sisiman Lighthouse. It would have been a really peaceful location, if not for the people singing at a nearby karaoke during our visit. There are nearby shops where you can buy food and drinks as well. From here, you can also get a view of the San Miguel Peak – which can be hiked!

You can see the rocks beneath the water.

Location: Sisiman, Mariveles, Bataan

Entrance Fee: None

Parking: Street Parking (You’ll be asked to park at a specific point near the tricycles)

6. Sisiman Lighthouse

You can climb the lighthouse for a better view of the bay in the morning until around 5 PM. Guards will be requesting visitors to leave the premises before evening. If you want to take a photo with the lighthouse at the background, best to do this past 5 PM so there won’t be a lot of people around.

Sisiman Lighthouse

Location: Inside Sisiman Bay, Mariveles, Bataan

Entrance Fee: None

Parking: Street Parking (You’ll be asked to park at a specific point near the tricycles)

7. Saint Joseph Cathedral

Also known as the Balanga Cathedral, the St. Joseph Cathedral is a majestic church founded in 1793. Before its renovation, the cathedral was said to have been used as an artillery emplacement in attacking Mt. Samat during the war. Now, the cathedral is up and running with a holy mass on a daily basis. This is located across the Balanga Plaza de Mayor.

St. Joseph Cathedral

Location: Calero Street, City of Balanga, Bataan

Entrance Fee: None

Parking: Street Parking

8. Balanga Plaza de Mayor

Plaza Mayor de Ciudad de Balanga is at its most charming at night. We visited it in April, yet it feels like Christmas with its colorful tree-like lights, a light tunnel, and a colorful dancing fountain. Families often visit this place to take a stroll and play with their kids on the spacious grounds. You’ll also find a lot of restaurants around the Plaza de Mayor.

Balanga Plaza de Mayor at night

Location: City of Balanga, Bataan

Entrance Fee: None

Parking: In front of the City Hall (You might need to give a tip to the barker!)

9. Mount Samat National Shrine / Dambana ng Kagitingan

There’s no way but up in Mount Samat. If you’re bringing a car with you, best to make sure that it can withstand uphill pressure and zigzag roads without the engine breaking down because that’s what you’ll be facing on the way up Mount Samat. You can also take a hike but it’s no easy task! The view once you reach the top (where the Mounta Samat Cross/ Dambana ng Kagitingan is located) is worth every sweat, though! Once you reach the cross, you can also take an elevator all the way up its peak to get a birds eye view of Bataan.

Dambana ng Kagitingan
Mount Samat Cross
Chapel

Location: Mount Samat, Pilar, Bataan

Entrance Fee: P20 each

Parking: Designated parking spots beside the buildings/ by the road (P20 for small vehicles/ P30 for large vehicles)

10. World War II Underground Museum

For history enthusiasts, visiting one museum may not be enough. So if you want to learn more about the war, you can also visit the World War II Underground Museum located within Mount Samat. This museum has a lot of guns, cannons, and photos on display. Once you enter the gate (where you also pay the parking fee), you’ll find a sign which points to both the chapel and the museum. The museum is on the left side after entering the gate.

(Photo courtesy of Ashlee Lapedario via Facebook)

Location: Mount Samat Road, Pilar, Bataan

Entrance Fee: P20 each

Parking: Designated parking spots beside the buildings/ by the road (P20 for small vehicles/ P30 for large vehicles)

ABOUT OUR CHEVY ROADTRIP

Chevrolet Trax on the road

This trip only took a day or two to get sorted out! We created an itinerary, but we had to make a couple of changes due to the longer travel time. Going out of the Metro on a Holy Week is no joke! Good thing we were riding a comfortable Chevrolet Trax during the 6-hour drive to Bataan. Our batteries were getting drained, but this car has a socket for you to charge from the backseat. If you’re in a hurry to leave the hotel after taking a bath, it’s so easy to plug in your hair dryer in here while someone’s driving! Plus, the car is already spacious for a max of 5 people and the compartment at the back can fit up to approximately 5 huge trolley bags.

First time to see a car with this!

As someone that drives older models of cars with manual transmission, the Chevrolet Trax was a new territory for me because of the numerous buttons and controls. At first, I thought it would take me a long time to be familiar and get used to the Trax. To my surprise, the controls were pretty straightforward and after a quick read of the car manual, and immeditely got the hang of it. I drove for almost 6 hours, but I can say that it was a comfortable and enjoyable experience driving the Trax,” shared Osmond Chua, our millennial respondent who braved the road with the Trax during our entire trip. His only discomfort was the placement of the car horn, which wasn’t immediately accessible from the sides of the stirring wheel, compared to his other car. However, it’s something that can easily be managed.

View from the passenger seat

If we were to name the top 3 best features of traveling with the Trax, it would be: (1) The bult-in rearview monitor which can help you drive through tight spaces, (2) lots of cup holders – we were able to use all 4 at the center, and (3) the charging dock where you can plug in your laptops, phones, or anything that may need a quick charge during a very long trip. Would highly recommend traveling with Chevy! It took us through rocky roads, up a steep mountain, and even through muddy tracks but we managed to complete this trip without any engine fuss.

Ready for our next trip!

For an overnight stay, do check out The Grand Peninsula Suites in Balanga, Bataan. It’s clean and affordable, plus the staff are so friendly! Every stay comes with a free breakfast, too.

We hope this helps! For more details about our new adventures, follow Manila Millennial on FacebookTwitterand Instagram!

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