Our Bataan Experience

Our Bataan Experience
by Danny Tariman

Bataan was the last stand of the gallantry of Filipinos at the height of World War II. This is the place where the ‘Death March’ ended, where soldiers trying to defend of country from colonialism died from exhaustion after days of starvation & thirst, marching from Tarlac as captives of the Japanese. We owe to these soldiers the freedom that we enjoy today.

A monument of war heroes at a road junction leading to the Cross of Bataan.
A monument of war heroes at a road junction leading to the Cross of Bataan.

But in these times, Bataan is a very good place to go, especially if you want isolate yourself from the dizzying busyness of the city.

It was was good two-and-a-half drive from Manila. We passed by the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), and exited at JASA for Jose Abad Santos Avenue. It is a long stretch of wide road. Upon reaching the monument “World War II First Line of Defense” in Dinalupihan, Bataan. We turned to the left, which took us all the way to the Cross of Bataan. You will not miss the uphill road going to the Cross; you will see the arc “Bantayog ng Bayani”.

The Cross that you see from afar as a tiny, little Cross, is actually a huge one, towering to an equivalent of 14 stories building! In fact, to go up, you need to ride a lift or an elevator. The elevator shaft is housed inside the vertical part of the Cross. (Could you imagine how big it is?). The horizontal of the Cross is actually a viewing deck. Can you figure out how big the cross is? (Caution for people with height phobia like me). My knees were literally shaking in nervousness! But it’s part of our experience. From the viewing deck you can see the vastness of the surroundings.

Beside the museum at the foot of the heroes' shrine.
Beside the museum at the foot of the heroes’ shrine.

During our visit, it was the day before National Hero’s Day, and so some portions of the museum were closed to tourists.

Moving on with our tour, we passed by the Japanese monument “Friendship Tower”. It is a 3-pillar tower in the middle of a rotunda or round-about. I need pull-over our car so we can take a good shot of the monument.

The Japanese Friendship Tower
The Japanese Friendship Tower

We stayed for the rest of the afternoon at Westnuk Beach, a property within the unused Bataan Nuclear Plant facility. After finding a good quite place for our outdoor overnight stay, we pitched our 2 tents, spread-out our folding picnic table and setup our beach umbrella.

A tropical paradise: the Westnuk Beach inside the non-working Nuclear Plant complex
A tropical paradise: the Westnuk Beach inside the non-working Nuclear Plant complex

This is a really nice place. We enjoyed the swim in its crystal clear waters. My family enjoyed the warm afternoon waters. My son & I went to the corners of cove to gather some dried wood we can use for the bonfire later in the evening. The beach has a creamy-white sand, with reefs just a hundred meters from the beach. But yes, we rented a boat to reach the reef. At the background is the still unused nuclear power plant.

We stayed overnight in the beach. We had bonfire at night. It was my first time experience to taste grilled marshmallows, cooked in bonfire! Crunchy on the outside, melting in the inside. Really nice (thanks to my daughter)! It was an excellent experience building the bonfire with my family, a great time for interaction and bonding.

The family starting the bonfire.
The family starting a bonfire.

From the beach, we visited the sea turtle sanctuary where “live” turtles are cared for, bred, and raised. This is almost an hour leisure drive from Westnuk beach. In this sanctuary, we were oriented on the different varieties of sea turtles, its natural habitat, and how it breeds. Indeed an educational tour!

The turtle conservation center in Bataan.
The turtle conservation center in Bataan.

Along the way, don’t forget to buy cashew butter at the roadside. It a delectable experience. This is something not found in the Metro. Of course, roasted cashew nuts are at really bargain price! Take a few packs of these.

Indeed, a happy family bonding time and educational tour in one!

More photos:

My family at the foot of the Cross.
My family at the foot of the Cross.
bat06
The Westnuk Beach at dusk.
My family inside the Cross' viewing deck -- the horizontal part of the Cross.
My family inside the Cross’ viewing deck — the horizontal part of the Cross.
A live sea turtle at the Conservation Center.
A live sea turtle at the Conservation Center.
Under the sea view at Westnuk beach.
Under-the-sea view at Westnuk beach.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s