Bataan is perhaps one of the provinces in the Philippines with the richest World War II history. The town of Mariveles, located in the southernmost tip of the Bataan Peninsula, was one of the two starting points of the infamous Bataan Death March, where Japanese troops forced thousands of Filipino and American prisoners of war to march from Bataan to Capas, Tarlac.
A Zero Kilometer Death March Marker now stands where it began on that fateful day of April 9, 1942 and while this dark event in the country’s history will never be forgotten, Mariveles has since moved on to a brighter, more colorful present.
Depending on which story you choose to believe, Mariveles got its name from the phrase “maraming dilis” (“many anchovies”) or a romantic story of a woman named Maria Veles and an unnamed man who eloped in the mountains.
Mariveles is home to a dormant volcano, Mount Mariveles, which has become a favorite among mountain climbers. The Tarak Ridge, a favorite among those looking for a taxing two-day (or more) climb due to its craggy landscape and steep slopes, provides a breathtaking panoramic view of Bataan, the Corregidor Island, Manila Bay, and Cavite. Those who are up for the challenge can head all the way up to the Pantingan Peak, the highest peak of Mount Mariveles and Bataan. The Papaya River makes the hike a bit more bearable as you can take a break and enjoy its fresh waters.
Prefer the beach over the mountains? Mariveles has many options that beachgoers can look forward to. Agwawan Beach and the Sisiman Beach are just two of the many beaches in town. There are also many resorts and rented houses that you and your group can check in to during your stay.
Those who wish to continue on in a historical trip through town should include the Lazareto de Mariveles Ruins in their itinerary. It was once a quarantine station for cargoes and passengers entering and leaving Manila to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. The structure was destroyed during the Japanese occupation but what is left of it still stands to this day.
Drop by Mariveles on the last Sunday of February and take part in the Liberation Day anniversary celebrations. Admire the well-made products presented during the Bag Festival, enjoy the delights of music during the serenata, and be educated by the cultural presentations of the locals.
September 10 is another festive day in town as Mariveles celebrates the Feast Day of its patron saint, St. Nicholas Tolentine. Pista ni Apo Kulas includes a colorful boat parade along Mariveles as one of the many activities of the celebration. Don’t forget to drop by the Parish Church of St. Nicholas Tolentine which was dedicated in his honor.
For the culinary risk takers, try local dishes featuring suso (snails). Cap off your trip by bringing home some pasalubong (souvenir). A favorite of the people of Mariveles is the bibingkang monggo, a rice cake with mung beans.
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