Before the province of Bataan became the burgeoning weekend destination for travellers that it is today, it stood witness to many of the historical events and atrocities of the second world war. The most popular of which, would be the Bataan Death March. While many of the Philippine nation’s unsung heroes lost their lives on its soil, Bataan has picked itself up and grown to be quite a beauty.
One of the first places to greet you upon arriving in this province would be Hermosa. Named after the Spanish word for “beautiful”, it is a quaint little municipality near the province of Pampanga that boasts a number of things to see and do. For me, though, Hermosa is a haven away from the hustle and bustle of my life in Manila. It is a place where I can bask in the greenery of my Grandpa’s garden and enjoy my Grandma’s scrumptious cooking. There is truly no place like home.
How to get there
Hermosa is approximately three hours away from Manila. Two bus lines pass by the town on their way to the capital city of Balanga. These would be Bataan Transit and Genesis Bus.
If you plan to take Bataan Transit, this is the way to go. They have terminals in Cubao and Avenida. Ride a bus going to Balanga and tell the conductor that your destination is Hermosa. As much as possible, tell them to bring you down at the town plaza. The first trip from Cubao is at 1am and the last trip is at 11pm. The buses leave in 15-minute intervals. As for Avenida, the first trip is at 2am. The last trip, on the other hand, is at 9.30pm. Here, the buses leave in 20-minute intervals.
However, if you plan to take a private car, just take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and then exit in San Fernando. Just go straight ahead, passing by the municipalities of Pampanga (San Fernando, Bacolor, Guagua, and Lubao) until you reach Bataan. If you wish to take a stopover, there are many gas stations and interesting restaurants along NLEX and Pampanga.
Things to do
1. Visit the St. Peter of Verona Parish Church
One of the first things you can do upon arriving in Hermosa is to visit the St. Peter of Verona Parish Church. Built in the 1700s by the Dominicans, the church has been rebuilt a number of times due to fires. Today, it stands as a reminder of our colonial past. The church ceiling exhibits artful details and the exterior is distinct for Spanish designed churches. Another interesting thing about this church is that their altar features a number of religious figures.
According to urban legend, the residents of Almacen, a fishing village in Hermosa, saw an image of a Saint inside a boat in its river during the Spanish times. This saint turned out to be St. Peter of Verona, now the municipality’s patron saint. It is easy to spot the St. Peter of Verona Parish Church because it is located right in front of the town plaza.
2. People watch at the town plaza
Life is simple in Hermosa. If you find yourself there, why not pass the time away like some of the locals do? People watch at the town plaza! Select a spot by the waiting shed and observe the life around you. To the left is a 7/11 Convenience Store. To your right, the municipal hall. Behind you, you will find a statue of Jose Rizal seemingly watching over the residents of the town.
3. Drink free-flowing spring water
You will see a number of these around town. You don’t need to worry about getting a bad stomach, though, as the water from these are known to be clean. There’s nothing like fresh, cool spring water to quench one’s thirst! The people from Hermosa do everything with the water here. Don’t be surprised if you catch a local or two getting water, washing their clothes, or even taking a bath here.
4. Have lunch at Bariotik Kitchen and Garden Eat All You Can
This buffet restaurant is a personal favourite of my grandparents and I can see why. They go there for breakfast or lunch. In Bariotik, one gets to enjoy several appetising Filipino dishes for just ₱145. Imagine, a buffet for that price! Plus, the rural ambience that the place evokes sets the perfect tone for a delicious Filipino meal.
5. Sample the town’s Salted Egg
One of the local products in Hermosa, Bataan is Salted Eggs. It can actually be considered their most popular product. With the Salted Egg food trend coming along, the real thing is definitely a must try!
Hermosa, Bataan is like a demure, young lady. Growing each day to show her full beauty. Give her a chance and she will show you all her wonders.