I was part of a group that visited the Pawikan Conservation Center in Morong, Bataan and it was a mixed experience. For one, it was a heartbreaking realization of how we as a species have systematically almost wiped out another by sheer greed and carelessness. The center staff who talked with us said that out of the 45,000 sea turtle hatchlings that they released only 1% survive to adulthood. But the presence of the people at the center also gave me a hopeful feeling that we can somehow do something to reverse this situation!
The conservation center in Morong, Bataan is a non-profit organization manned by volunteers who don't receive any form of remuneration from the government. They themselves used to hunt and kill these creatures for food and profit... until they realized that what they are doing is jeopardizing the whole species. They made the decision to make the rescue, conservation and, for want of a better word, propagation of this species their life's work!
If you are interested in eco-tourism and you are in Bataan, you can visit the center anytime you want. There is always someone there to meet you and talk with you. It is a good destination for school field trips although I don't know how big a group they can accommodate at one time. i have posted the contact details of the center so you can get additional information.
Each November the town of Morong, Bataan celebrates the Pawikan Festival. Aside from the bazaars, street dancing competition and art contest, the most important part of this festival is the release of hundreds of tiny pawikan (Olive Ridley turtles aka Lepidochelys Olivacea) hatchlings into the South China Sea.
You too can take part of this activity if you want. To inquire on how to go about adopting a baby pawikan you can contact the center at:
Cellular phone numbers 0928-7185721 or 0906-6155546
E-mail them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to donate money for the running of the center please deposit your gift at the center account:
Landbank of the Philippines- Balanga City (Bataan) Branch
Bank Account Name : Bantay Pawikan Inc. Livelihood Project
Address: Purok VI-Aplaya, Nagbalayong, Morong Bataan
Account Number : 0441-1942-26
To be a part of trying to reverse the trend of extinction of these beautiful creatures is very important and we have to remind ourselves everyday that we should not contribute to the destruction of the pawikan by buying stuff made out of their shells or eating their flesh and eggs with the mistaken notion that it will enhance our virility!
The beach in Morong, Bataan is a good place to watch the sunset. The long stretch of the beach is quiet and conducive to contemplation. It is quite a sight to see the rays of the setting sun turns the sand golden.
Bataan Beaches are known for nesting marine turtles (Pawikan) coming in the evenings. It is said that people from poor communities used to come to collect the eggs for food or trade, and sometimes hunt the female turtles to eat the meat, then sell the shells and skin to traders who resell them as illegal by-products (stuffed pawikan,ornaments for guitars,comb, eyeglass frames,etc).
Fortunately, Bantay Pawikan,Inc initiated a community-based conservation program with the help of the provincial government and UNDF-GEF-SGP. Soon,other communities and groups followed suit,and their collective efforts ensured the protection of nesting marine turtles,collection and hatching of eggs,and releasing all hatchlings back to the sea. To promote consciousness on the importance of conserving the Pawikans,the Center welcomes visitors.
Entrance fee is only P20 per person, but you can give more as donation. Personally, I feel that for all the unselfish/ altruistic efforts of the volunteers of Bantay Pawikan,Inc., it is worth giving P100 or more.
You can "adopt" a turtle and/or pledge your support to the Pawikan Conservation Center. By donating P50 per hatchling, you can have the joy of bringing the hatchling to the beach and releasing it to the sea when the wave comes.
As you stroll on the beach, vendors carrying caged birds will approach you to sell local parakeets which they have supposedly gotten from the mountain. While the birds are cute and nice to bring home as pets, it would be wise not to buy them. These are endangered species that shouldn't be hunted by locals for commerce. My daughter gave a woman vendor a "lecture" on the importance of leaving the birds in their habitat.
Morong is known for its beaches. Situated on the Western side of Bataan, Morong faces the South China Sea. It reminds me very much of Ilocos in that the beach seems to stretch to infinity to your left and right. Sunsets are very beautiful here. If the sky is clear, you can watch out for the "green flash" as the sun is setting.
The sand bars at the sea are always exciting to explore... to search for interesting shells or stone/rock formations, to see if there is trapped fish, to find a cozy rock to sit on and chat with friends, to find a quiet place to meditate... the list can go on and on...
Today, probably 99% of tourists have cameras/ videocams with them when they go for vacation out-of-town. Photo enthusiasts will surely enjoy the wide array of possible subjects for photography: seascape, sunrise,sunset, human interest, macro shots, etc. Aside from these, I personally enjoy "shooting the shooters" :)
To go to the White Beach or the Pawikan Conservation Center or other beaches you want to explore, you may rent a banca or outrigger boat. Rental rates range from P1000 to P1,500. Lifevests are provided to passengers. Just be sure to let the Front Desk know of your whereabouts and check out the boatman's credentials.
You can enjoy the therapeutic effect of salt water without swimming in the sea at White Coral Beach Resort's Salt Water Pool. I swear, a long dip in the salt water is very effective for healing skin allergy and swollen feet/legs.
Sunrise/sunset viewed from the beach is always a fascinating thing to do. The colors of the sky and the silhouettes are just awesome.
While you're not in the mood to swim, perk up by playing beach volleyball. You can coordinate with the Front Desk for advance reservation of the day/time you want to play volleyball.