Diocese of Balanga
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In a land area of 1,373 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the whole civil province of Bataan. Bataan is under Region III Central Luzon.

  • 1st District    City: none    Municipality: Abucay, Dinalupihan, Hermosa, Morong, Orani, and Samal

  • 2nd District    City: Balanga    Municipality: Bagac, Limay, Mariveles, Orion and Pilar

Population

 The total population in the diocesan territory is 657,119 at end of 2002. Most residents are ethnic Aetas.

Language

Languages used in the diocesan territory are English, Kapampangan, Ilokano with Tagalog as the lingua franca.

History

Historically, Bataan is most remembered, along with the island of Corregidor, as the main scene of action in the Philippines during the Second World War. These places are strategic in guarding the entrance to Manila Bay. The surrender of Filipino and American soldiers to overwhelming Japanese forces marked the Fall of Bataan in 1942. A war memorial, Dambana ng Kagitingan, now stands to honor the men who fought and died in that last stand.

The Diocese
The Diocese of Balanga was established in 1975. It comprises the entire civil province of Bataan, the smallest among the provinces of Central Luzon. The province is a peninsula jutting out to sea, with Manila Bay to the east, China Sea to the west, and the province of Zambales to the north.

Bataan was one part of Pampanga until it was made a separate province in 1754. It is divided from north to south by two mountain ridges, the eastern part forming the valley towns of Hermosa, Orani, Samal, Abucay, Pilar, Orion and Limay; to the western section belong the fertile hills and valleys crading the towns of Morong, Bagac and Mariveles.

Thirty-four years since its creation in 1975, the Diocese of Balanga now has jurisdiction over 33 parishes, served by 58 diocesan priests. Some of these priests also head the various diocesan commissions, or are directors of Catholic schools.

Except for one order of contemplative nuns, that of the Poor Clares, religious sisters are active in education and catechesis, among them the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and the Daughters of Charity. The Missionary Catechists of St. Therese are in charge of the catechetical program of the entire diocese, working in close collaboration with the Diocesan Commission on Education Formation. The Sisters of the Divine Shepherd run the Munting Tahanan, an orphanage for street children, and the Buhay Puso, a safehouse for the abandoned and the elderly, in collaboration with Caritas Bataan.

Political

 Bataan is politically subdivided into 11 municipalities namely: Abucay, Bagac, Dinalupihan, Hermosa, Limay, Mariveles, Morong, Orani, Orion, Pilar and Samal and 1 city, Balanga with two congressional districts and 237 barangays.

The Legislative Districts of Bataan, namely the first and second districts are the representations of the Province of Bataan in the Philippines' House of Representatives. Bataan was a lone congressional district from 1907 to 1984, it was divided into two congressional districts since Oct. 15, 1986. During the Interim Batasang Pambansa (during the transitional national assembly / a transitional legislative body as mandated by the 1973 Constitution) from 1978 to 1984, it was part of the representation of Region III.

Transportation

The coastal side of Bataan where heavy industries are complemented with shipping and navigational system. This is mainly concentrated in the municipalities of Limay and Mariveles. In addition, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA} was able to establish three (3} national ports: Port of Lamao, Port of Mariveles, and Port of Orion. The ports of Lamao and Mariveles are utilized for cargo vessels and chemical and oil tankers. Custom duties are derived from them. Port of Orion was established for roll on-roll off (RORO) and passenger ferries. All ships and ferries are bound for Manila and other domestic and international destinations.

Bataan can be reach by bus. Only one and a half hours of smooth, wide roads from Manila via the very modern Northern Luzon Expressway.

However, the faster way is to take the ferry at the CCP Complex in Roxas Boulevard, Manila to the Diosdado Macapagal Ferry Terminal in Orion.

Economy

Bataan is abundant in agriculture and marine products. Raw materials abundant in Bataan are bamboo, oyster and capiz shells, red clay, buho, rattan, limestone, gravel and sand. Fruits include mango, banana, and citrus.

Rice is the principal crop of the province. Other crops cultivated in the province are coffee, eggplant, peanuts, cashew, arrow roots, ube, sweet potato, coconut, and corn.

Surrounded by fresh and seawater, the province teems with fish and prawns, crabs and mussels.

Fishing is the most practiced activity along the coastal and sea areas of Bataan. Most people are mainly dependent on this activity as their source of livelihood. There are two forms of fishing in the area; brackish water aquaculture and capture fisheries. Capture fisheries are for municipal and commercial fishing activities.

Bataan is fortunate to have a huge natural watershed that provides sufficient water and power supply to the province. Water supply is provided by the local water districts. Mt. Natib and Mt. Mariveles serve as the province's natural water reservoirs. Bataan is one of the largest providers of electric power in the country. The National Power Corporation, Bataan Power Plant Complex, and the combined cycle power plant, both found in Limay, and the Edison Global Power Plant in Mariveles, with a total combined capacity of 1,003 raw MW of power are the sources of power in the province and other parts of the country.

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant in Morong is to be converted by NAPOCOR, and the Shell/Oxy consortium into a natural gas-fired combined cycle power that will generate 1,500 MW of electricity, thus making Bataan the central power supplier of the Luzon grid. A 250-kilometer onshore natural gas pipeline from Metro Manila to Bataan is underway.

Telecommunication

Telecommunications Mobile phone facilities are provided by the country's two giant telecommunications companies, Globe Telecom and Smart Communications.

Bataan has enough telecommunication facilities to serve its growing populace. These are: Bureau of Telecommunications in Balanga; PLDT that covers the towns of Abucay, Balanga, Pilar, Orion, Limay, and Mariveles; Digitel that covers the towns of Balanga, Abucay, Samal, Orani, Hermosa, and Dinalupihan; and Telefast, PT&T, Eastern IIT, and Battlelex in Orani.

There are five courier services in the province. These are: DHL, LBC, JRS Express, Fax and Parcel, and Worldwide Express.

Some cable networks serve Balanga, Bagac, Orani, and Dinalupihan. Nineteen postal stations are distributed in 12 towns. Polcom radios or emergency radios are also distributed in every municipality. Bataan has eight Cable TV Operators and two Local Radio Stations.

Education

The literacy rate is 95.93 percent according to National Statistics Office.

Culture

A model Aeta community is being developed in Barangay Bangkal, Abucay where Cultural preservation, appreciation and sharing among the mainstream society are the major focus of the project. With this, it is envisioned for the project to have a comprehensive mainstreaming and education among the community and the broader society on the different practices like rituals, festivities, hunting styles among others of this indigenous group.

On Bataan Day or Araw ng Kagitingan, war veterans and their families from different points of the country travel to Mt. Samat, every April 9 to reminisce the past and to celebrate the bravery of their forefathers who offered their lives in the struggle to preserve freedom and democracy. Atop Mt. Samat is the Shrine of Valor where the celebration takes place.

Side events are being held at the capital of the province and nearby towns, among them are:

PADYAKAN SA BATAAN - A mountain bike circuit race competition open to all mountain bike enthusiasts from Bataan, nearby provinces and Manila area. It aims to revive the patriotism and instill the importance that the province played during WW II.
PARANGAL SA MGA BAYANI - The entire province will pay tribute and honor the sacrifices and heroism of the living WW II veterans of Bataan.
PARADA NG KAGITINGAN - As part of the celebration of the Araw ng Kagitingan, a Parade of floats depicting the heroism of the Filipino soldiers during the war, will be highlighted. The parade will pass by the major thoroughfares of the province.
TAGISAN DIWANG BATAAN - A province wide quiz open to all high school students on the history, culture and geography of Bataan.

Tess Sulit, an Aeta tribal attended the Mother's Festival with her grandchildren at the Capitol Hills Farm in Balanga City on May 7, 2005

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