Bucket List Philippines

Pawikan Hatchlings make their way to the Ocean in Bataan

A lot of people associate Bataan, a province situated in Central Luzon, to the infamous Death March during the World War II. I was a fourth year high school student when I first travelled to the province for a documentary film we were doing for our school. Last year, our company team building was held in Morong, Bataan. That was two trips but I did not know anything about the province aside from its rich history.

It was not until recently that I got to know a different side of Bataan. I was invited to witness the 2016 Pawikan Festival. When I got the email from Bataan Tourism Office, I was truly delighted. Watching sea turtles hatch/make their way to the ocean is on my bucket list and I had been waiting for the chance to witness it myself. I did not even know there was a Pawikan Conservation Center in Morong, Bataan.

Pawikan Consevation Center in Morong, Bataan

Our group arrived on a Saturday night in Morong, Bataan. We check in to our assigned accommodation before we went to the Pawikan Consevation Center to take part in a night patrol for nesting mother Pawikans, during which eggs are collected for transfer to the hatchery. 

the nesting mother sea turtle

The photo above shows the egg chamber constructed by the mother sea turtle (pawikan). The eggs looked like ping pong balls, no? We were too late to see the actual laying of eggs because according to the locals, the second Pawikan abandoned nesting because it got stressed out. According to one of the volunteers, Pawikans look for a dry part of the beach away from possible predators. While they prepare to lay eggs, they should not be disturbed or else they will abort the process and go back to the ocean. But once they started laying eggs,  they go into a trance from which they can not be disturbed. This is the time people can actually watch them. 

Bantay Pawikan

After the very exciting night patrol, we were introduced to some of the members of the Bantay Pawikan Inc., a group of reformed sea turtle poachers. We also got to witness educational talks conducted by environmental researchers and experts. They highlighted the current initiative being done by the province to protect the Pawikans that are now highly endangered because of illegal fishing, poaching and other activities. I also learned that the aim of the Pawikan (sea turtle) festival is to raise public awareness of issues relating to marine turtle conservation in Morong, Bataan.

The Hatchery

The next morning, we went back to the Pawikan Conservation Center to finally witness the releasing of baby sea turtles into the ocean. But before that, we got to meet Ms. Danica Tigas and Ms. Leslie Jorge of Bataan Tourism Office. I learned so much from these two nice ladies! 

the hatchery of sea turtles
he hatchery at Pawikan Consevation Center

Ms. Leslie and Ms. Danica told us a lot of interesting facts about sea turtles. My favorite was the Natal Homing (or Imprinting), the ability of sea turtles to return to nest in the same geographic area where they were born. Depending on the species of sea turtle, it can take 15 to 30 years to reach maturity and for female Pawikans to be mothers. So, imagine if they come back and their birthplace is already gone? That’s depressing, right?

Pawikan Hatchings Releasing

Finally seeing the sea turtle hatchlings make their way to the ocean was awesome! My words are not enough to describe it. I pray that each one of them will survive to adulthood and go back to Morong, Bataan to lay eggs. 

The Pawikan hatching season starts every November until February.  So plan your trip now and don’t miss this awesome event. For more information, you can contact the Bataan Tourism Office.

Pawikan Festival in Morong, Bataan

After the pawikan hatchlings releasing, we also got to witness the Annual Street Dance Competition participated by each town in the province of Bataan.

Bataan Tourism Office
Address: Roman Super Highway, City of Balanga, Bataan, Philippines
Telephone Number: (047) 237 4785
Email Address: [email protected]
Twitter: @1Bataan
Instagram: @BeholdBataan and @1Bataan
Facebook: @bataan.tourism
Official Website:

Special thanks to Bataan Provincial Tourism for making this trip possible and for helping me check off another item in my bucket list!

By Project Gora

Hey there! My name is Milet Miranda, and I'm a full-time corporate employee during weekdays and a traveler during weekends (and get the picture). I'm a foodie at heart and I love joining food tours. When I'm not traveling, you'll find me walking my dogs or biking around my neighborhood.