The Protected Area (PA) was first proclaimed as Bataan National Park (BNP) in 1945 by virtue of Proclamation No. 24, covering an area of 31,000 hectares. However, subsequent amendments of the proclamation eventually reduced the park’s coverage to 18,335 hectares. The amendments excluded portions of the park for various purposes, such as the establishment of the Mt. Samat National Shrine, Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, Kanawan Negritos Reservation Area, and classifying land for timberland purposes. At present, the BNP is still an initial component of the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS).
The Bataan National Park is located at coordinates 14o 37’ 50” to 14o 50’ 10” latitude and 120o 15’ to 120o 25’ longitude. The PA shares territorial jurisdiction with the Municipalities of Orani, Hermosa, Samal, Abucay, Bagac, and Morong of Bataan province. It is bounded on the north by the Subic Forest and Watershed Reserve (SFWR) and the municipalities of Dinalupihan and Hermosa, Bataan, on the south by the municipality of Bagac, and the city of Balanga, on the west by the municipality of Morong, and on the east by the municipalities of Orani, Samal, and Abucay, Bataan facing Manila Bay
BNP falls under Climatic Type 1 (Corona’s classification from Kintanar, 1984) that is characterized by a distinct dry and wet season. The wet season starts from the month of May to October while the dry season prevails for the rest of the year. The rainiest months are June, July, and August with monthly average of 172.97 mm. Fluctuation in the average temperature may occur throughout the year. Extremes are in April and May with a mean temperature of 28.6°C. There are also fluctuations in the average relative humidity values throughout the year. The lowest values were noted during the months of January to April with values of 57 to 66.7%; while the highest values were recorded during the moths of July to August with values of 82.5 to 82.9%.
Radiometric dating shows that the volcanic feature of Mt. Natib is divided into three (3) main stratigraphic groups: old, middle, and young volcanic (EBASCO, 1977). The old volcanic is a product of the ancestral Natib volcano. Age is estimated to range from 1.8 to 3.9 million years before present (mybp). The middle volcanic is estimated to be 1.8 to 3.9 mybp also. These volcanic are associated with the parasitic cones such as Mt. Apisan, Mt. Pinoonan, Mt. Sta. Rosa, and Mt. Silanganan. The young volcanic overlay both the old and middle volcanic. These are associated with Mt. Natib Peak, Mt. Tiawir, and eventually the Mt. Natib crater. The last eruption of Mt. Natib crater is between 30,000 and 100,000 years ago.
Significant geologic structures are found in BNP. The Natib Caldera is an arcuate highly defined structure with well-preserved walls, volcanic cones and domes near the rim. Mountains Sta. Rosa, Pinoonan, Silanganan and Apisar and the domes of Mt. Natib’s peak, Tiawir and Tala delineate it. The Caldera’s dimension is estimated to be 7.5 km. east to west. Hydrothermal altered grounds and many thermal springs are found in the Caldera. A volcanic vent or collapsed structure and faults are also present. Exploratory wells suggest that the hydrothermal system may not be economically viable to develop.
Based on the population study of PA communities conducted by Bataan NGO Consortium (BNC) in 1995, the population of communities within BNP is 3,514 individuals. This corresponds to 1,701 households (Table 1).
The start of gradual migration into the area has not been established. By 2010, the dominant ethnic group for the entire province is the Tagalogs (NSO). Tagalog as a mother tongue is spoken by 96.2% of the population. The Aetas are the only indigenous group inhabiting the BNP. These groups live in several Aeta Settlement areas.
Table 1.Selected data regarding the population demographics of Bataan National Park and the Bataan Province (NSO, 1995; BNC, 1995).
A DENR-BNP Office Building located in Bangkal, Abucay, Bataan was established to
house the management and supervision works of the PASu and BNP Staff. The office can accommodate the staff and visitors, meetings and FGDs. It will provide visitors’ information needs since over-all BNP monitoring works, records and other documents are filed and kept.
Two BNP Nature Center serve as briefing and information center for park visitors. These are located at Brgy. Tala, Orani, and Looc, Morong, Bataan. BNP Staff and Forest Rangers are assigned to each facility to conduct park monitoring and patrolling, record visitor’s arrival and assist in their needs.
Bataan has six public and six private hospitals with a total bed capacity of 1,327. Aside from these, there are 242 private medical clinics at the municipal and barangay levels, 122 dental clinics, 18 rural health units, 223 barangay health stations, and 275 day-care centers.
Bataan has a total of 186 public elementary schools, 42 private elementary schools, 32 public secondary schools, and 24 private secondary schools. Four public institutions offer vocational courses.
College education can also be obtained within the province. At present, there are seven public institutions and 12 private schools offering various degree and technical/vocational courses.
The Peninsula Electric Company (PENELCO) provides electrification service in the whole province of Bataan. The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is also situated within the Bataan National Park in Morong, Bataan but it is not operational.
Municipal Water Districts distribute water supply to most households located within the Bataan National Park like the towns of Orani, Bagac, Hermosa and Morong. Some households rely on groundwater and have artesian and common wells, pumps and pipelines with tanks. On the other hand, a few depend on the natural springs for water supply.
The following table shows the information and details of itinerary to the present location of Protected Area Superintendent Office and identified ecotourism sites of BNP.
Bataan National Park serves as a habitat to diverse terrestrial, marine and freshwater organisms. The following are the major habitat types occurring in BNP:
Grasslands and Agricultural Areas
Of the BNP’s total land area of 18,335 hectares, at least 5,623 ha or 30.67% are grasslands and agricultural areas (Table 2). Majority of the low-lying areas comprise this habitat type.
Table 2. Summary of Vegetation Type Features in Bataan National Park (PIU, 1998a).
As Percentage (%) of Total
Grasslands and Agricultural areas
Sea level to 900 masl
300 m. to 900 masl
900 m. to 1,100 masl
1,100 m. to 1,250 masl
Grasslands covered much of the deforested areas not under agricultural production. This area consists of largely of grassy patches (Imperata cylindrica and Saccharum spontaneum) and disjunct lots of residual forests. Great extent of the grassland area is usually burned to stimulate new growth of grass for cattle grazing but it hampers secondary forest formation.
As shown in Table 2, this habitat type occupies 10,990 hectares or 59.94% of the protected area. Lowland forest is found from 300 to 900 masl. Much of the lowland forest is partially logged. As elevation increases, disturbances become less.
Dipterocarp species are commonly found in this habitat type. The canopy range of the largest trees is from 20 m. to 25 m. with occasional trees reaching up to 30 m. Average diameter ranges from 50 cm – 100 cm. The under-story of this forest is composed of tree saplings, ferns, and herbaceous vegetation. Dense clumps of pandans (Pandanus sp.) and arborescent palms (Arenga pinnataand Caryota cumingii) are common in the area. Ficus species are also present. On the other hand, epiphytes are uncommon. Vines including rattans (Calamus sp., Daemonorops sp., and Pothos sp.), climbing bamboo (Schizostachyum diffusum) and climbing ferns (Lygodium sp.) are uncommon to abundant, particularly off main trails.
The soil essentially lacks humus and numerous rocky outcrops are found along steeper slopes and along streambeds and tributaries. Traces of extensive rattan extraction, old and recent tree-stumps, traps, makeshift dwellings and an extensive system of man-made trails are manifestations of human activities inside this habitat type.
Semi – Evergreen Forest
Towards the northwestern side of BNP, there is a patch of forest that is characteristically dry and water-stressed during several months when this side undergoes a distinct dry season (Fernando, 1997). Deciduous trees occur alongside the evergreen species, in a formation similar to the Semi-evergreen forest (Whitmore, 1984). Common dipterocarp species found are the Shorea contorta, along with Strombosia philippensis, Diospyrospilos anthera, and Cleistanthus blancoi. Schizostachyum lumampao (buho) is also common and so do the woody climbers such as Phanera integrifolia, Symphorema luzonicum, and Uncaria velutina.
Montane forest, occur on several peaks over 1,000 masl within BNP. The canopy of montane forest is moderately open and relatively shorter compared to the lowland forest. Trees of Syzygium sp. (Family Myrtaceae) are common. Within this forest, certain trees lack buttresses and the average canopy height is 15 m. Average dbh of canopy tree is 30 cm. Forest’s understory is generally denser than in lowland forest. Climbing bamboos (S. diffusum) remain abundant in many areas. Erect palms (Pinanga spp.) at least 4-6 m. in height are common. Tree ferns (Cyathea spp.) are present. Oak trees (Lithocarpus spp.) and gymnosperm trees (Podocarpus spp.) are noted. Epiphyte loads of larger trees are moderate to moderately heavy. At least 40 to 60% of the larger trees have epiphytes on the trunks or larger branches. Lianas are relatively uncommon. Ficus spp. becomes uncommon. In relatively level areas, humus depth varies from 10-30 mm. Human disturbances include rattan extractions, collection of orchids and other epiphytes, human leftovers, and some human trails.
Mossy forest is confined along the peripheries of Mt. Natib Peak at 1,100 masl up to near the peak’s summit. In this forest, the vegetation is dominated by dwarf stands of trees belonging to families Vacciniaceae and Theaceae. Melastomaceae and Podocarpaceae are also common. The trees lack buttressed roots although some have support stilts. The average height of trees is between 8-9 m. with dbh of about 10 cm. Reduction of tree size (short) and stature (gnarly) are noticeable in this forest. The understory is principally composed of luxuriant growth of creeping pandans and small ground palms, ferns, and orchids. No figs are noted. The ground of this forest is often covered with earthworm castings and is moister compared to the forests below. Human induced modifications are few, consisting of few human trails, cut rattan stems, and leftovers.
Marine and Freshwater Communities
The BNP’s coasts are characterized by an irregular series of alternating peninsulas, small embayment and sandy beaches. A marine study recorded at least 74 species of benthic algae, 3 genera of sea grasses, 123 species of phytoplankton, 254 species of benthic invertebrates and 155 species of fishes (PNPP-NPC, undated).
The same study noted that in the 9 perennial rivers and creeks inside BNP, there were 23 species of fishes, 28 species of invertebrates and 39 species of phytoplankton.
There are several potential eco-tourism sites within Bataan National Park.
In Barangay Tala, one famous tourist destination is the Mt. Natib peak, the highest summit in the entire Natib Caldera System. Rising to 1253 meters and lying in between the larger old caldera and the smaller Pasukulan Caldera, it provides a great view of the surrounding towns. Mt. Natib is a dormant volcano and represents the latest of the volcanic edifice to develop in the area. Only Mt. Natib among the peaks in Bataan National Park possesses a mossy forest characterized by small-stunted trees covered by dense growth of mosses, ferns, and other epiphytes. The peak of Mt. Natib is covered by small patch of grassland. Also found in it is the municipal boundary monument (MBM) indicating the common meeting point of the municipalities of Abucay, Bagac, Morong, and Samal. The peak is connected to Site A via footpath found on the northwestern flank of the mountain.
Pasukulan Falls, form part of the upper reaches of Malaking Ilog River, is set at the southern edge of the smaller caldera east southeast of Mt. Natib. It is the highest of all the falls selected under potential eco-tourism sites (approx. 180 ft). Narrow cascading water plunging into deep pool characterized the falls.
“Binutas”, as it is locally named after its initial development during the construction of the road network by PNOC for its exploration, is a high altitude place that serves as a view point where tourists can experience the coolness of the surrounding air, feel the facing winds combined with fogs, watch a flying flock of Lawin birds and see the unique mountain features.
Tala River is also popular for its rushing and cold waters. It is one of the several natural attractions where locals and visitors stay for picnics, camping and swimming.
Kairukan Falls, located in one of the two upper tributaries of Kairukan River, drains the northwest flank of Mt. Silanganan. The falls, borne from a narrow cascading headwater, is of moderate height (approx. 150 ft.) descending into a deep plunge pool about 30 feet in diameter. A single trail originating from Barangay Binaritan can be used as an access to the falls. However, the trail itself ends some 500 meters from the falls and one has to traverse upstream to reach the falls.
Meanwhile, in Barangay Binukawan, breath-taking nature landscapes can be found. These are the Ambon-Ambon Falls, Limutan River tributary waterfalls, and a locally-named waterfall called “Mahangin Falls”. These are located inside the BNP protected forest composed of large forest trees, wide variety of birds and species of insects, huge rocks and boulders and fascinating rock-wall formation. The rushing cold water in Limutan River springs offers a refreshing natural drinking water. All waterfalls which form part of Limutan River provide a plunge pool suitable for swimming.
Marukdok Falls coursing the headwaters of Gantuan River is one of the most accessible of the water falls in BNP. It is well known among the local inhabitants of Morong and Bagac and frequently visited during summer. The headwaters of Gantuan River drain the west slope of Bataan Peak and pass through Sitio Limuranin as it descends to Matikis Bay. The route leading to Bataan Peak can be used as an access to the falls.
The separate area along the coast of Matikis Gulf, close to small community of Gantuan is also selected for eco-tourism. The site’s water depth change is gradual compared to other areas of the gulf, plunging to no less than 10 meters from 100 meters distance from the shoreline. Within the same area, along the sandy stretch, leading towards north is a small estuarine area formed by the outlet of three converging rivers: Gantuan, Marukdoc, and Salian. At about less than a kilometer away from the mainland shoreline is the Matikis Islet and environs. The islet is connected from the mainland by about 150 meters stretch of “saddle” consisting of boulders and coral fragments. The saddle is partially raised above sea level during low tide and submerged during high tide. The cove of Matikis Bay and upper portion of the beach covering an area of 47.39 hectares is being developed into first-class tourist destination beach resort by the LGTM Corporation including Matikis islet.
Pilis Falls is located in Pilis Creek. Its water cascades down a steep-slope cliff north-northeast of Mt. Nagpali. The falls, with an approximate height of 120 feet, is unique for not having a plunge pool. However, indications of past landslides on both sides may have filled up the plunge pool.
Bataan National Park also possesses several thermal springs. Most of these thermal springs are found within the Old Caldera with dense forest cover, which later will be included as part of the Strict Protection Zone. All are described as no more than relatively small, abruptly flowing stream of thermal water immediately converging to an adjacent non-thermal tributary.
Most thermal springs are located in deep gorges with high risk of increasing erosion. The spring can be distinguished by the rust-colored mineralized particulate being extruded from an underground source, either adhering on boundaries along banks or merely setting to the spring’s bottom. Access to the thermal springs is often difficult and risky. Strict management protocol and engineering measures must be applied in order to develop access leading to the area.