The Legend and History of Bataan Philippines

Author: Sai Vallejos

Bataan peninsula is located southwards from the western shores of central Luzon, forming the enclosed and well-sheltered Manila Bay to the east that is nearly cut off from the open China Sea in the west. The narrow outlet separates the peninsula from Corregidor Island and Cavite to the south.

The provinces of Zambales and Pampanga form common boundaries to the north. About 80% of Bataan is mountainous or hilly with Mount Mariveles and Mount Natib dominating the interior. Most of the agricultural portion of Bataan is in the north and east.

The province experiences two pronounced seasons; dry from November until April and the wet from May to October. During World War II it was the scene of heavy fighting between Allied and Japanese forces from January 6, 1942, to April 9, 1942. Bataan fell to Japan on April 9 and was retaken by an American force on February 17, 1945.


Several villages in the coastal plains of Bataan were already thriving communities when Spanish missionaries found them in the 1570s. Bataan, then known as Vatan, was part of the vast Capampangan Empire that included what now are the provinces of Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, and some portions of Bulacan, Zambales and Pangasinan, These coastal villages were inhabited by natives who were predominantly fishermen, farmers and craftsmen. Meanwhile, the hillsides were inhabited by nomadic Aeta tribes.

Bataan was established in 1754 by Governor General Pedro Manuel Arandia. Before this, the region was divided into two parts: the Corregimiento of Mariveles and the Province of Pampanga. The towns of Mariveles, Bagac, Morong and Maragondon, Cavite comprised the Corregimiento of Mariveles that 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 latter group was under the charge of the Dominican Order. Limay, the twelfth town of Bataan, was named only in 1917.

Long before the outbreak of Word War II, Bataan already earned herself a secure place in the history of the Philippines. The prince of Filipino printers, Tomas Pinpin, a native of Abucay, who either authored or co-authored some of the oldest books in the Philippines and printed them himself between 1610 to 1639 in the printing press located inside the Abucay Catholic Church. In 1647, the plundering Dutch Naval forces were resisted in Bataan, the defenders ultimately chose the glory of death to the ignominy of surrender.

Bataan was among the first provinces to rise in revolt against Spanish tyranny. Two of her sons, Pablo Tecson and Tomas del Rosario, figured prominently in the Malolos Convention in 1898, and were instrumental in ensuring that the Filipinos enjoyed religious freedom. Cayetano Arellano of Orion became the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Revolutionary Government, and later on became the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

When the Pacific War broke out in 1941, the selection of the peninsula as the locale of the last defensive stand by the USAFFE against the invading Japanese forces brought fame and infamy to Bataan. The loss of life and property cannot be estimated. Bataan then became the symbol of valor and tenacity in its hopeless stand against the much superior invading Japanese Imperial Forces. Today, a national landmark called the Shrine of Valor (Dambana ng Kagitingan) stands majestically on top of the Mt. Samat in Pilar as testimony to the gallantry and sacrifices of the men and women who with their blood, tears, and sweat made the grounds of Bataan hallow.


Most of the 424,000 people living in Bataan are Tagalogs. Kapampangans comprise a significant minority of less than 10% and are concentrated in the municipalities adjoining the province of Pampanga. Recent rapid industrialization has lured thousands of people from other provinces to settle within Bataan.

The province of Bataan has always been linked closely to the culture and economy of Manila. Much of what the province produces is exported to Manila. The primary traditional industry of Bataan is fishing. It is the home of thousands of fishermen whose industry has spawned a unique craft of net and fishtrap making. Nets produced in Bataan take on various forms and shapes like the panli, kalukutok, pambonot, pansiliw, panitig, mananacag hipon, panglusong, hila-hila, kitang, pangapak, bintol, salambaw, dala, bating, pangalabaw and the gulgureta.

Each net type responds to various needs and uses. There are also various fishtraps like the saluhin, paclang, aguila, panghipon and pangalalo.
The province exports the excess of its fish catch and the town of Orion is famous for its tuyo (dried fish). Orani used to have large tracts of nipa groves, which used to produce a native beverage called tuba. Tuba is still produced but in smaller quantities and primarily for local consumption.


First Line of Defense Marker (Dinalupihan) - Marks the first strong line of defense of combined Phil. and USAFFE troops against the Japanese invasion during World War II.

Fall of Bataan Marker (Balanga) - This commemorates the fall of Bataan, in memory of war veterans, living and dead. The marker symbolizes the courage and the enduring commitment of a Filipino soldier to his country.

Surrender Site Marker (Balanga) - Marks the spot where the grim surrender of Bataan and Corregidor was signed by Maj. Gen. Edward King Jr., on April 9, 1942. Surrender marker can be found within the compound of Balanga Elementary School.

Democracy Marker - Situated at the provincial boundary between Pampanga and Bataan which depicts the role of Bataan in the fight for freedom for the preservation of democracy.

Death March Marker (Orani) - The folk arts statue commemorating the defiant spirit of Bataan, where Death march marches passed on their way to the prison camp.

Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor) Pilar - Natural shrine atop Mt. Samat which immortalizes the agony of the Filipino and Americans against the forces of aggression and articulates the Commitment of the Filipino people to freedom and dignity.

Tomas Pinpin Monument - In memory of first Filipino printer. It was in Abucay church where Tomas Pinpin co-authored and printed the earliest books in the country with Fr. Blancas de San Jose in 1610

Mt. Samat - Was the scene of the most heroic defensive battle during World War II.

First Abucay Catholic Church - On this site a fierce battle between the Dutch and the natives together with defenders took place in June 23, 1647. The church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It housed the first printing press in the country which outdated any single press in the US

Mt. Malasimbo - A cinica-shaped mountain cinsidered as a weather forcasting device predicting a coming typhoon when its summit is covered with dark clouds.

The Main Battle Position (Abucay Town) - The battle possition of the USAFFE, known officially as the Abucay -Morong Line, under the War Plan Orange 3. The then second Lieutenant Alexander R. Miniger, Jr., 57th Infantry (PS) Gainsville, Georgia was posthumously decorated the Congressional Medal for an action on this line 12 January 1942, and became the first America's highest military decoration.

Abucay Municipal Building - A historic relic of one of the largest town of Bataan.

Bankal Settlement -A newly created barangay where the Actas still maintain their traditional customs and usages in accordance with our cultural heritage.

Battle of Toul Pocket Marker (Bagac) - Marks the significant pockers where a battle ensued as a prelude to the final defense in Bataan. The series of fights to eliminate the Japanese forces known as the Battle of Pockets fought from Jan 27 to Feb. 17.

Sibul Spring - A tourist potential with sulfuric swimming pool and wide area for outdoor recreation.

Pasukulan Falls - A natural wonder at the valley of Mt. Natib which has fresh vegetation and unexplored area.

Bagak Town - Zero Kilometer Marker. The start of the infamous Death March that also marks the beginning of Japanese control over the nation.

Maria Canon Statue - This tower was erected for the repose of many dead souls in the Philippines during World War 2 by the Mie-ken Daiichi Shueesec of the Japanese Sohtohshuh Spot, September 1978.

Philippine-Japan Friendship Tower - This symbolizes that after a war, there is a period of reconciliation, peace and friendship.

Kaytibong Falls - This natural waterfalls remains to be developed.

Roosevelt National Park - A forest reservation ideal for outdoor adventures and Boy Scout Camporal area with facilities for irrigation and game hunting.

Catholic Church Belfry - This was used as a site for Japanese artillery bombardment of Mt. Samat where both Filipino and American Forces gave their last stand.

Lamao World War II Marker - World War II exempted almost no place in the province that this town overlooking Manila Bay and Corregidor deserves a marker.

Alangan River - In Bataan every place is a place to go. No small creek or river is without a tint of history and of practical value.

BEPZA - The Bataan export Processing Zone Authority is the site of many foreign based factories and companies producing items ranging from dolls to automobiles for export.

Flaming Sword - A symbol of the Filipino courage and gallantry in the face of external threats to the nation's democracy and peace

Final Battle Site Marker - To remember the coutage and heroism of Bataan defenders amidst hunger, sickness and death.

Battle of Trail 2 (Capot Hill) - A point where several men died in defense of freedom and democracy.

Dunsulan Falls - Ideal site for pocnics and inland swimming.

U.N. Refuge Center - Located in Morong Town. A temporary resettlement area and processing center for Indo-Chinese refugees migrating to European, American and Facific countries.

Nuclear Power Plant - The country's first controversial commercial nuclear power plant with a capacity of 620 megawatts.

Cayetano Arellano Marker - Located on Orion Town. This marks Orion, as the birthplace of the first Filipino Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Francisco Balagtas Monument - In honor of the great Filipino poet and patriot, this monument was erected.

Sitio Diwa - A full-pledged barangay but a glorious example of a small village which answered the call for the united defense against foreign aggressors. (From Tambayanet)

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