Orani Bataan is a first class municipality in the province of Bataan in the Philippines which is just less than an hour drive from Pampanga and around 3 hours drive from Metro Manila. This imerging tourist destination in Central Luzon has a lot of potential for the new Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat will focus on Farm Tourism and Ecotourism given her previous job in the Department of Agriculture(DA) and Philippines is agricultural country that we should maximize it to the full extend. Majority of the land areas of Orani are forestlands, agriculture and forest reservation that are elements needed in sustainable tourism which aims to promote and sell local products and services yet not harming but preserving the natural wonders. As an agricultural town, majority of the lands are used to plant rice, coffee, vegetables, peanut and fruit bearing trees. Cut flowers like aster, chrysanthemum and gerbera are locally cultivated while bamboo and jungle vines can be gathered from Orani’s forestlands. Seafood like milkfish, tilapia, prawns, crabs, mussels and oysters are caught in Orani’s fishing grounds and fishponds. Given those products, I can say that Orani is perfect place for Farm and Ecotourism. Department of Tourism(DOT) Region 3 with the partnership with the local government of Orani Bataan launched a new Tourism Package dubbed as “One Countryside Experience” for both foreign and local tourists to truly experience this town has to offer which features faith, farm and eco-tourism. During the launch, DOT Regional Director Carolina Uy said that Orani have so many assets, she even compare the town to a Diamond which many things are yet to be discovered. Mayor Efren Pascual Jr. emphasized that is program ensure better economic opportunities for the locals and envisioned that Orani Bataan will be in the Top 5 Eco Tourism Destination in Central Luzon by 2020. Given the efforts and enthusiasm of the local government with the help of DOT, this vision will soon be a reality. After the festive launching, we travelled to Bataan National Park at the Tala View Deck. The few kilometers leading to the deck is quite rough but can be reach by riding a 4X4 vehicle or if you are adventurous and energetic enough you can hike your way up to the deck. On the way, you can see the luscious green of the forest and mountain, the cool breeze is so refreshing. All you can feel and say is what a beautiful creation, the local government should be commended to preserving this place. Bataan National Park or Tala View Deck is the gateway to Mt. Natib known as the highest peak in the Natib Caldera System. A potentially active volcano with elevation of 1253 MASL, Mt Natib is higher and is more challenging than Mt Arayat and Mt Makiling with 6 out of 9 hiking difficulty level. This mountain known to have Limatik, a mountain leech, so if you plan to explore this mountain plan and research first to be well prepared for a climb. Since our eyes are stunned with the breathtaking view, it’s time to fill our tummies so we travelled to Baby’s Farm to take our Boodle Fight style lunch. We indulge our tastebuds with delectable dishes of prawns, crabs, fish, vegetables and pork sinigang. And lastly the refreshing Taro Ice Cream. I love the crabs and shrimps, they are sweet and has a soft meat that means these seafood are freshly caught. The crabs are perfectly cooked, it’s sinfully tasty! So I grab the crabs first! The amount of crabs and prawns I consumed is more than the rice I eaten. Orani Bataan as the best tasting seafood. Freshly caught and cooked on the same day, you will definitely taste the difference! We headed next to Diaz AgriFarm for our next stop to experience the farm life. I’m really excited to see the farm for I previously visited organic farm in the past and I fell in love with it. Seeing and experiencing the life in the farm makes you realized the difficulties of our underrated heroes, the farmers. Being in the food business and hospitality industry I really salute the farmers for they are the reason why we have food in our tables. I got the fair share of experiencing a farm life by planting rice, I’m sweating a lot while doing the task, lol It’s not easy I let you! I wore farm boots at first as not to get some muds but it’s not working for I got stocked, I remove them and just be in barefooted. It’s a fun experience but as the song goes Magtanim ay di biro, Maghapong nakayuko, Di man lang makaupo, Di man lang makatayo…” So before we waste a single grain of rice, remember how hard our farmers plant, grow and harvest our precious rice. Afte immersing myself with the farm life, it’s time to taste the fruit of the farmer’s labor by tasting some of the farm products and bringing some at home as pasalubong. Diaz AgriFarm also offers different products such as leche flan, biko(rice cake), ube jam, salted eggs and other delectable products. I love the ube halaya and leche flan for they are creamy and truly made with the freshest ingredients harvested at the farm. Our last stop for this day tour is The Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish Church known also as Nuestra Señora del Rosario Parish Church. This pilgrim site is a 330 year old church that was built in 1792. The Orani church is an example of a mixture of old and new architecture. Although the church was restructured and changed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it still maintains the same lines and design of the old façade which are original Baroque and Neoclassic architecture. Beside this pilgrimage shrine is the Museum of the Virgin Mary, a repository of the Marian relics and artifacts was added to the convent. It houses the vestments and crowns of the Lady of the Most Holy Rosary which she worn on different celebrations. Some important historical facts of the shrine is that: On August 22, 2004, Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas designated the Orani Church as a Pilgrimage Shrine. On April 18, 2009, the 50th Golden Anniversary of the Virgin’s Canonical Coronation was celebrated with the presence of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales. On September 25, 2012, the Church of Orani was granted a perpetual spiritual affinity bond by Pope Benedict XVI with the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. This status, as an affiliate church, grants those who pray in Orani the same spiritual privileges as those conveyed to the faithful who visit the Basilica in Rome. The crowns and other accessories are donated by different people who are devotees of the Virgin Mary. The crown in the photo above is donated by Manny Villar that was worn in one of the celebrations. These wonderful vestments are created by the locals who has the talent in doing the burdang orani. Burdang Orani is the traditional filipino of vestment making originated from the town of Orani, Province of Bataan. This way of making vestments is known for its intricate designs and handmade. What to bring home when in Orani Bataan? Aside from fresh seafood and products of Diaz AgriFarm, this town has a Tourism Center where you can buys some pasalubong products and items such as Taro Chips, Banana Chips, Araro Cookies, Polvoron, Ground Coffee and other delectable products which are proudly made of the Oranians. Aside from the tangible products of tourism, one of the factors that will make Orani Bataan in the Top 5 EcoTourism Destination in Central Luzon by 2020 is the hospitality of its people. I collaborated with different local government in the country and had the chance to work with them but I should say that one of the friendliest and coolest Mayor I met in my entire life is the Mayor of Orani. This town is truly blessed to have a father like Mayor Efren Bondjong Pascual Jr. I’m in full support in your tourism promotion for I believe Orani has a lot to offer to the world! A precious gem that deserve to be recognized. Tara na sa Orani(Let’s go to Orani Bataan). Let’s explore this precious hidden gem of Central Luzon! Taste the food, experience the thrill, strengthen our faith and feel the warmth of the people! I will definitely go back to explore more! 🙂 Other Must Visit Places in Orani Bataan: Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park Sinagtala Farm and Adventure Park The Day Tour Package is available at Php1,750 per person with minimum of 10 persons. This package includes entrance fees, snacks, lunch, tour guide fee, transportation, and souvenir item.Among the destinations included are the Bataan National Park at the Tala View deck, various agricultural and aqua farm sites, and Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish Church. For further inquiries, call/text 09276311247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.