It was the same reaction that I got when I first opened the idea of visiting Mariveles in Bataan. Same as most travelers, I have only known Mariveles as a small fishing town where one of the two Kilometer Zero Monuments of the Bataan Death March is located. Other than that, I don't think there are any other interesting facts that would spur my interest about the place.
I was wrong.
Mariveles is a jewel of the west and there are a lot of nooks and coves that will just simply surprise every traveler, both new and seasoned ones.
Arriving 2 hours late from the actual meeting time, I scurried to take a tricycle to where the group was already having breakfast. Traffic was really bad along NLEX that the usual travel of 4 hours turned into a 6 hour trip.
Mariveles is a municipality located at the tip of the Bataan Peninsula. It prides itself to being the home of the Bataan Economic Zone, the very first economic zone in the country. It is popular among mountaineers because of the popularity of the Mount Tarak Ridge. Unknown to many, Mariveles hosts a number of amazing beach coves amidst the backdrop of its rugged terrain.
With the team from the Bataan Weather Page, let me show you why Mariveles is rising towards the tourism map.
Death March Kilometer 0
The Death March is the most harrowing ordeal that thousands of Filipino and American POWs had to endure during World War 2. After keeping their ground against the Japanese forces, Filipino and American soldiers had to surrender after making Bataan their last gruelling stand against the invaders. These POWs, due to their huge number, were then forced to walk from Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga where they were loaded onto trains to be brought to Capas. They walked a total of 97 kilometers.
Death March Markers were installed along the route with two Kilometer Zero markers installed in Mariveles and Bagac. Why two starting points? The POWs were amassed in both locations. The POWs were then forced to walk to Bagac to merge and proceed to Pampanga.
The small and quiet park that sits close to the center of the town complements the laid back atmosphere of Mariveles. At the center of the park is the symbol of the Fallen Soldier and close to it is the actual zero kilometer marker. On one side are two plaques with the Philippine and US flags standing alongside. The plaques bear the story of the march in Filipino and Englsh.
Bonifacio Fisherman's Wharf
Small boats dotted the wharf that offers a magnificent view of Mariveles Bay and its surrounding landforms. The spot gives you the panoramic scene of the Mariveles shoreline with Sisiman Point on one side and Naswe on the other. The wharf gives you that rural feel. The end of the wharf was already re-claimed by the sea after part of the wharf has given in to the pounding of the waves. But I did not mind as it added to the texture of the photos that I was taking.
I guess the wharf becomes busy in the mornings with fishermen coming in to trade their catch from the sea. It must be one busy wharf as Mariveles is a a fishing community. I also figured that locals head off to the port during late afternoons and early evenings to enjoy the fresh air and the peaceful ambiance of the Bonifacio Fisherman's Wharf.
Find it: Just a few meters from the wharf is the original Corregidor Historical Marker that was installed by the National Historical Institute.
A rugged terrain with huge waves crashing onto rock formations is what you will find in Panoypoy Cove but the view is one that will keep you in awe. The view from the top is magnificent as you get to see the rugged terrain of Mariveles meet the rough waters of the West Philippine Sea. The ruggedness is a beauty in itself. This is when we got our first taste of #BataanesOfTheWest. The view totally swept us off our feet.
The beauty was all around that it was hard to capture the natural beauty of Mariveles in one frame. You can enjoy the view of the landscape and seascape from the top or you can opt to enjoy a face-to-face encounter with its rocky beach.
After seeing Panoypoy Cove, I was convinced the Mariveles was a secret ready to be revealed.
Tucked within a small black sand beach cove is Hawla Resort, our home for the night. The small private resort has two non-airconditioned rooms and open air cottages that you can rent for a day or for an overnight stay. Showers are basic and clean. It has a small spring water wading pool that guests can enjoy.
It sits on a very small cove which makes the resort adorable because you have the whole cove for yourself. The waves were a bit big at the time of our visit but you can still enjoy taking a dip. On one side are the "rockies" that you can explore cautiously.
But the real beauty of Hawla lies on the trail that leads you to the cove. The trail gives you a spectacular view of the cove, a peek of Panoypoy, and the rugged landscape around it. There is one particular view deck that overlooks the cove where the scene is straight out of a dramatic movie. The landscape and the skeleton of previous man-made structures is a perfect for melodramatic moments. It is simply captivating.
The rolling verdant green hills were close to being picture perfect. The view reminded me of Calaguas, only this time I was on the western coast of the Philippines. It was a great way to welcome our second day in Bataan. I am amazed as to how Mariveles was able to keep its natural beauty away from the eyes of travelers and tourists considering its proximity from Manila.
Apatot Cove, as viewed from the top, is a charmer. Again, the view was like straight out of a set of your favorite soap on primetime television where your lead characters enjoy a brief romantic moment against the backdrop of grasslands with a view of the sea. It is close to being perfect except that part of its beauty was carved out to accomodate an open landfill.
Such a pity that self-serving former government official would destroy such beauty because of greed.
At the heart of these life-size images are the huge sculptures that depict God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This is the Naswe Grotto - a collection of life-size collections of saints that were installed along the hills of Naswe in Mariveles. It once sowed fear among residents when, at the height of its construction, rumors of a local cult were shared among locals.
But the faith of the devotees stood its ground with the completion of the place of worship and a place that attracts tourists. Unfortunately, the grotto was already left in disarray with weeds growing in its surrounding areas.
Balon Anito Hot Spring
At the heart of a barangay sits the Balon Anito Hot Spring - an open natural pool believed to be a vent of a dormant volcano. The source of the spring water and the depth of which is still undertermined. Although there is a running story that a dead carabao was once lowered into the pool to determine where the hot spring leads to. The remains of the carabao was said to have been found at Sisiman Bay that lead to the speculation that both bodies of water have a connection.
Nevertheless, the hot spring is said to be a favorite afternoon spot by locals and its waters are also believed to be therapeutic.
Karagatan View Deck
Another vantage point worth checking out is the Karagatan View Deck. Only this time, it is not a view of the sea but an almost complete view of Mariveles - the sea, the town, the nearby water reservoir along Bateral River, and the mountain ranges of Mariveles.
There is also another viewpoint in the area where you get to see the steep curve of the zigzag against the backdrop of the Mariveles mountain range. It reminds you of Baguio in a way. I guess, for those traveling from Manila, the area is a good stop to catch a view of the municipality's rustic beauty before heading of to town.
Sisiman Bay View Deck
From Karagatan View Point, we were then whisked to an area that is unofficially a viewpoint for Sisiman Bay. The vantage point gives you an amazing view of the southern side of the peninsula, the Sisiman Lighthouse, San Miguel Peak, and its community. You get to see the whole community in one sweep.
As the weather was starting to be uncooperative, we decided to head off to the foot of San Miguel but the rains started pounding when we got there and that limited our exploration of Sisiman Bay. The view of the peak was beautiful from below.
Just right beside San Miguel Peak was a smaller hill and it is the home of a small grotto that was installed by the locals. The Sisiman Grotto is very accessible with cemented steps leading to the image of the Virgin Mary and extends to the peak. Take extra precaution though as the steps leading up is steep.
But the rains did not stop us from conquering the more accessible vantage point of Sisiman Bay. We managed to head up despite getting drenched from the pouring rain. Our efforts to make it to the top was rewarded by another breathtaking view of Sisiman Bay and Mariveles Bay on the other side.
Our host said that the place is such a beauty that it was used as a location for a tv advertiement. Judging by the beauty at the peak and its surrounding areas, it was the best way to end our exploration trip to Mariveles, Bataan.
Post Travel Notes
Mariveles is definitely a destination that is rising in the Philippine tourism radar. We came in to the place with no expectations and we ended up completely surprised by its beauty. The coves and its rustic landscape are just simply breathtaking. It was a trip that had us surprised on every turn.
As Mariveles starts getting traction in the tourism front, a bigger challenge is making sure that they are able to maximize the benefits of the tourism industry and spurning new opportunities with the birth of this new industry while ensuring that its attraction is kept intact with very minimal or no environmental effect from the influx of tourists.
Mariveles has a lot to offer. It is amazing that with all the beauty that this place has a lot to offer, it has managed to stay away from the eyes of travelers. But such amazing sights cannot be forever kept away from the eyes of off-beat travellers. Its rustic sights and landscape kept us in awe that we think that it is just right to tag it under the hashtag #BataanesOfTheWest.
So expect Mariveles to keep rising!
Getting there: You can reach Mariveles by taking a direct bus trip from Manila to Mariveles. Genesis Transit and Bataan Transit have regular bus trips to a destination that we dub as #BataanesOfTheWest.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.