Morong is a province in Bataan with great beaches perfect for quiet summer getaways. It was a quiet town until recent developments have made it a popular road trip destination for tourists from Metro Manila. There are also other natural attractions like a distinct marine life and waterfalls to explore, in addition to historic structures and landmarks found in Morong.
The beaches in Morong are said to be one of the loveliest in Bataan, but the town also champions a cause when it established the Pawikan Conservation Center. The pawikan or sea turtle is an endangered animal all over the world. The conservation center is a protected area where the gentle sea creatures can lay their eggs away from poachers and illegal fishers. The center also treats sick or injured sea turtles. Tourists can visit the place to learn more about these amazing creatures. Every year, the town also celebrates the Pawikan Festival.
Another interesting place in Morong is the infamous Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Built from 1976 to 1984, the power plant cost the government 2.3 billion dollars, but it was never commissioned because of bureaucracy and conflicts among the officials who had it built. It stands on 389 hectares of land surrounded by trees. Though it was never used, the structure and equipment are still being maintained today. Visits to the plant are possible and are done by appointment.
Morong boasts a beautiful shoreline seascape. Its waters are ideal for swimming, boating, diving and other water activities. The resorts that line the shores also offer vast dining options and spa services.
To get to Morong in Bataan, you need to travel by land. From Manila, take a bus bound for Olongapo. You can select from either Victory Liner or Genesis Bus Transport. The travel time between Manila and Olongapo usually takes about two to three hours.
Get off at the Olongapo Bus Station and then ride the yellow jeep bound for Santa Rita, and asked to be dropped off at the SBMA Gate 2. From there, mini buses or jeeps are available to take you directly to Morong town proper.
You can also drive from Manila if you wish. Take the North Luzon Expressway to Dau Exit. Afterwards, drive along SCTEX all the way to Tipo Exit. Pass through Subic and exit at the Morong Gate.
How to Get Around
Once you have arrived in Morong, you can ride a tricycle that will take you to your hotel or resort. Jeeps are also available when in town.
What to See
The infamous Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was built on almost 400 hectares of land on the southern tip of Morong. It was an ambitious project by the late President Ferdinand Marcos in the 70s to supply the energy demand of Luzon. Despite heavy opposition and criticism, its construction pushed through but it was never commissioned. Though unused, the power plant has become a tourist attraction. The highlight of the plant tour would be seeing the gigantic nuclear reactors. The fascinating control room with its old equipment will remind you of the old sci-fi movies.
Morong is known for its fantastic beach, which continuously draws in tourists especially from Metro Manila. It has pristine shores and clear waters that can entice anyone to relax and enjoy its tranquility.
The barangay of Nagbalayong in Morong is home to the Pawikan Conservation Center. It serves as a sanctuary for different kinds of marine turtles like hawksbill, olive ridley, and green sea turtle. This place is open for those who want to learn more about these endangered animals. The tour will include a short lecture about the center’s conservation efforts as well as a guided visit to the hatchery where you can see the turtles up close.
The Philippine Refugee Processing Center, also known as the Vietnamese Village, is also found in Morong. The camp was where Indochinese refugees (Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian) settled temporarily before their permanent immigration to resettlement nations such as Canada, Norway, Australia, France, and the United States. Now, the center has been converted into a museum where you can know more about the Indochina Wars.
Events and Festivals
Every April, Barangay Sabang in Morong celebrates the annual Galunggong Festival. The festival features fun runs, parades, cooking contests, and coastal cleanups as part of its celebration. The feast is held to honor the local fishermen and their dedication to provide sustenance for the entire community.
The town also celebrates Pawikan Festival every November to raise awareness about the endangered baby Olive Ridley turtles. Street dances, parades, trade fairs, and other lively activities are slated for the week-long celebration of the festival. But its highlight is the releasing of the pawikan hatchlings into the West Philippine Sea.
Where to Eat
When in Morong, Loleng’s Hu Tieu-an is definitely a must-visit. Its proprietor, Manang Loleng, was once an employee at the Philippine Refugee Processing Center where she learned how to cook Vietnamese dishes. The crowd favorites are the hu tieu (a savory noodle soup) and bahn mi (a traditional Vietnamese sandwich).
Fare: PHP 500.00
The bus fare from Manila to Olongapo costs about PHP 300.00 for a one-way ride, while the jeep ride from the Olongapo Bus Stop to SM Olongapo is only PHP 7.00. The bus ride that will take you to Morong town proper costs about PHP 20.00 per head. Once in Morong, the fare for a tricycle costs about PHP 20.00 per head as well.
Food: PHP 150.00 to PHP 250.00
Meals in Morong are delicious and affordable. On average, a full meal will only cost you PHP 200.00. A bowl of hu tieu from Loleng’s only costs PHP 50.00, while bahn mi is PHP 45.00.
Shopping: PHP 20.00 to PHP 250.00
When shopping for souvenirs, key chains and ref magnets cost only about PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 apiece. For souvenir shirts, the price ranges from PHP 150.00 to PHP 250.00.
Accommodations: PHP 900.00 to PHP 2,500.00
From budget to luxurious accommodations, there is definitely a hotel room suitable for any traveler when in Morong. Affordable rooms at a hostel start at PHP 900.00. A more upscale room is around PHP 2,500.00 per night.
Activities: PHP 300.00
Entrance fees might be required when visiting the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, the Philippine Refugee Processing Center, and other establishments. Allot PHP 300.00 or more just in case.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
Tipping is optional when dining since most restaurants already include a service charge in your bill. A small amount of PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 should be fine in case you want to tip.