The province of Bataan, located in Central Luzon , maintains an important place in history for being one of the last locations where the American and Filipino forces unsuccessfully tried to fight off the Japanese invading forces. It was also the starting point of the infamous Bataan Death March, in which 75,000 American and Filipino prisoners were forced to trudge a distance of 61 kilometers towards prison camps, all while being beaten, tortured and subjected to other forms of indignity. Tourists travelling around Bataan will find many landmarks and monuments devoted to Bataan s strategic and historical significance.
Points of interest in Bataan include the First Line of Defense Marker, which commemorates the combined resistance of American and Filipino troops during the Second World War; the Democracy Marker, found at the provincial boundary between Pampanga and Bataan; and the Shrine of Valor Pillar, on top of Mt. Samat, which signifies the struggle of the Filipinos and the Americans against Japanese aggression, and represents the continuing commitment of the Philippines to the preservation of freedom and dignity. More sordid reminders of Bataan s dark days include the Fall of Bataan Marker; which was instituted in memory of the veterans of the war, and stands for the courage of the Filipino soldier; the Death March Marker, a statue placed along the path of the Death March to demonstrate Bataan s defiance; and the Surrender Site Marker, which marks the infamous site where Maj. Gen. Edward King, Jr., surrendered at last to the victorious Japanese forces. It is interesting to note that the Philippines and Japan have since become friendly and cooperative nations in the war s aftermath, which is symbolized aptly by the Philippine-Japan Friendship Tower .
Natural wonders in Bataan are plentiful as well, with some remaining pristine and undeveloped, and thus, retaining their virgin beauty for the benefit of the few tourists who manage to come across them. These include the majestic Kaytibong Falls , the Camaliw Falls , and the Pasukulan Falls , all of which are breathtaking and refreshing to the eyes. Tourists who would like to bathe in natural hot springs may wish to head for Sibul Spring, which also contains a wide field for outdoor recreational activities. Mt. Malasimbo is a lovely place to visit, but it also has significance as a weather forecasting agent, as typhoons can be predicted by watching the summit, which becomes covered with dark clouds when storms are approaching.
Printing is also a large part of Bataan s heritage. The first books in the country were co-authored and printed here by one Tomas Pinpin in 1610, who is immortalized as the first Filipino printer with a monument bearing his name. The First Abucay Catholic Church also stands as the location where the first printing press in the Philippines was housed, and is also one of the oldest churches in the Philippines .
Bataan has its share of festivals and celebrations, most often during the Holy Week and the Flores de Mayo, a feast of flowers in devotion to the Virgin Mary. Bataan Day on April 9, however, is its exclusive celebration, and war veterans travel to Mt. Samat on this day to reminisce and celebrate the men and women who gave up their lives so that the country could be free.