St. Joseph Cathedral, City of Balanga, Bataan
Bataan is one of the most beautiful and historical provinces in the Philippines. It is blessed in having an amazing number of churches that can be found upon visiting Bataan. these also serve as reminders that the province is rich in religious heritage ands a sanctuary for devotees and believers.
Bataan is a tourist destination as it is also suited for those people who want to do Visita Iglesia especially during Holy Week. The churches remain standing, sometimes for centuries, for the people who have strong faith and believe in God. The churches continue to inspire many people for many years.
Here is the list of well-known places of worship that can be seen in the fascinating province of Bataan.
Balanga Catholic Church Belfry
Balanga City, Bataan
- Church of Balanga (Balanga, Bataan)- The spiritual ministration of Balanga formerly belonged to Abucay. Balanga became an independent missionary center in 1739. Rev. Benito Rivas, O.P., strengthened this church by fortifying its wall. Rev. Juan Antonio Vicente, O.P, roofed it with galvanized iron and decorated the interior. Rev. Mariano Ma. Minano, O.P., from 1838-1845 constructed the arch of the choir loft and made the baptismal font out of granite from Mariveles. The parochial ministration under the Filipino clergy started with Rev. Mariano Sarili, June 21, 1898. The church was used as the site for Japanese artillery bombardment of Mt. Samat where Filipino and American forces gave their last stand during the last world war.
- Church of Abucay (Abucay, Bataan) - The spiritual ministration of Abucay was entrusted to the Dominicans in 1588. A fierce battle between the Dutch invaders and the Pampango defenders was fought in this court on June 23, 1647. Nearly two hundred Pampangos were put to death, and forty others, together with Spanish Alcalde mayor and two Dominican priests were taken prisoners to Batavia. The present church was badly damaged by the earthquake of 16 September 1852. One of the earliest printing presses in the Philippines was operated in this town, where as early as 1610, Rev. Francisco Blancas de San Jose, O.P, and Don Tomas Pinpin printed several books in Spanish and Tagalog
Church of Hermosa
- The spiritual ministration of Hermosa, known before as Llana Hermosa, belonged formerly to Orani. Llana Hermosa, as composed of Mabuyan and Maboco, became an independent missionary center in 1717. While the City of Manila was being occupied by the British, the Dominican Corporation held there its provincial chapters in 1763. The church was destroyed by fire several times.
Church of Orani
- Church of Orani (Bataan) - Orani became an independent missionary center in 1714. The church and convent of Orani, repaired in 1792 and 1836, were badly damaged by the earthquake of September 16, 1852. They were built and improved under the supervision of the Rev. Bartolome Alvarez del Manzano, O.P. in 1891. They were destroyed by fire on March 16, 1938, which razed about three-fourths of Orani including the town hall, the Tercena, former Bataan High School and later Orani Elementary School building. The church was reconstructed in September 1938.
Church of Orion
- Church of Orion (Bataan) - The spiritual ministration of Orion belonged formerly to Abucay. Orion became an independent missionary center in 1667. Its first minister was Rev. Domingo Perez. The church and the convent were badly damaged by the earthquake of September in 1856, and were repaired in 1854. The Rev. Ulpiano Herrero constructed the beautiful sacristy and marble altars. In this town Cayetano Arellano, eminent Filipino jurist and statesman and first Filipino chief Justice of the Supreme Court was born on March 2, 1847. Francisco Baltazar (Balagtas), author of Florante at Laura, lived in this town from July 22, 1842 to Feb. 20, 1862.
Church of Samal
- Church of Samal (Bataan) - The spiritual ministration of Samal was entrusted to the Dominicans in 1596. The town was attacked by Dutch invaders in April 1647 but the local garrison of Pampanga under the command of Alejo Aguas compelled the Dutch forces to retreat. The church and the convent built by the Rev. Jeromino Belen, O.P. were ruined during the Dutch invasion. In 1896 the church was burned by the Katipuneros to drive out their enemies in the convent. The Rev. Justo Quesada rebuilt the church and convent in 1903.
Church of Sta. Monica
- One of the most beautiful churches in the Philippines and also one of the oldest, estimated to be 400 years old. It merges marvelous Baroque architecture and contemporary motifs. Enclosed in its stone-carved facade of baroque images of saints is a ceiling frescoed with a "modernized" Sistine Chapel's famous Ceiling. Alterations include vignettes covering Pope John Paul II's World Youth Day visit to the Philippines in 1995.
Accessibility of the province
Bataan is very accessible. From Manila, the travel time will take more or less 1 1/2 hours via NLEX (North Luzon Expressway). Bus companies that ply the 124 km route also service the commuting public from Manila to Bataan. An ultra-modern highway, SCTEx, connects Clark to Subic, which makes Bataan even more accessible to more cities, allowing more commuters to reach their destination in no time at all.
Enter the province of Bataan via Dinalupihan, which is 101 kilometers away from Manila. Travel time is about one hour. From there, Balanga City, the capital of the province, is around twenty kilometers away. Minibuses, jeepneys and tricycles are available as a mode of transportation around the province from the City of Balanga to nearby towns in the province. Those buses depart every 15-30 minutes to provide convenient trips to all travelers.
The province has an extensive coastline with 11 municipalities having marine boarders; there are about 14 tertiary parts, 2 of which are classified as national ports, namely the Port of Mariveles and the Port of Orion.
By sea via ferry from the CCP Terminal in Roxas Blvd, Manila to the Diosdado Macapagal Ferry Terminal in Orion, 22.5 nautical miles or a convenient 45-minute trip will lead commuters to the bustling Orion port. For an affordable fee, one will be able to escape the traffic of land travel and feel the refreshing sea breeze and the splendor of Manila Bay.
One could reach Bataan in just a few minutes by air, having several private helipads in the province. There are also two international airports at both ends of the province: the world-class Clark International Airport and the equally recognized the Subic Bay International Airport. Both offer facilities that can easily accommodate 25 million passengers annually from the international and domestic market.