The peninsula of Bataan—forever etched in the memories of Filipinos for the infamous Death March—is dotted with touching shrines that honor the brave Filipino and American defenders of the Philippines during World War II. The foremost historical marker is the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor), a towering memorial cross atop Mt. Samat in Pilar.
Bataan is now becoming well-known as an eco-tourism destination with its bird-watching sites and turtle sanctuary. As massive numbers of birds migrate all around the world from September to March, they make stops in Balanga, the capital of Bataan. Water and forest birds from China, Japan, Siberia, Russia and Canada stop over at the wetland and mangrove forests of the area.
The community in Nagbalayong, Morong is working to protect pawikans (marine turtles) that nest and hatch on its beaches. You can visit the Pawikan Conservation Center to learn more and even join the beach patrol as they secure eggs laid out by turtles at night during nesting season.
Not to be missed is a day tour to the 400 hectare Ciudad Real de Azucar in the town of Bagac where you can admire a collection of Indio stilt houses, 18th century Principalia mansions and stone houses. Gerry Azucar, owner of San Jose Builders, conceived of the project and acquired neglected ancestral homes from all over Luzon. These were transported brick by brick to Bagac and faithfully reconstructed.
Bataan also offers a host of exciting activities—mountain climbing and trekking in Bataan Natural Park, cooling off in a myriad of waterfalls, taking a dip at Sibul Spring, mountain biking, and circuit racing, among others.