I was buying something from a sari-sari store somewhere in Bataan, a quick stop before we go to the site of this year’s Pawikan Festival, when the proprietor suddenly pulled up a basketful of pawikan eggs. Do I want some, he asked. I didn’t know what to say. I was shocked, to say the least. We were, after all, celebrating these gentle creatures’s existence and promoting their welfare. The exchange was a total opposite of why we were here.
|A SEA TURTLE HATCHLING, OFF TO THE SEA|
But this is not new to me. I actually know someone close who used to eat pawikan eggs as if it were the norm. Well, to be fair, it was something natural to them, his uncles and aunts, heck, the whole town, was doing the same until it was banned. They really didn’t know that the practice wasn’t good until someone told them so. Now, they know otherwise.
|YOUGN OLIVE RIDLEY TURTLES, THE SMALLEST OF THEIR SPECIES|
And it is this same thinking why Bataan, whose beaches are a natural harbor for pawikan hatchlings—particularly endangered Olive Ridley turtles—are doing this festival. To spread awareness, to let people know that we need to take care of these creatures, not only for us, but for the future generations to come. Cliché as it may sound, it is but the truth.
|THE STAGE IS SET FOR THIS YEAR’S PAWIKAN FESTIVAL|
|BOAT PAINTING CONTEST RIGHT BY THE SHORE|
It was my first time to attend Bataan’s Pawikan Festival. The event was held at the sandy beach right in front of the Pawikan Conservation Center in Barangay Nagbalayong. There were temporary stalls selling local products, benches and plastic Orocan chairs for the viewers of the street (or in this case, beach) dancing and a makeshift stage set right before the shore.
|PAWIKAN SAND SCULPTURES | COLORFULLY GARBED STREET DANCERS|
The place was packed with locals sauntering around the beach, a few swimming on the water, playing volleyballs, doing sand sculptures and most, just waiting for the festival performers. Everything is very provincial, although not in a bad way. I love how charming everything was, even if hints of commercialism can already be found on banners around the grounds.
|A CONTINGENT READYING FOR THEIR TURN TO PERFORM|
|DANCING THEIR HEARTS OUT, BAREFOOT|
A group of young Aetas, the Bangkal Bigkin Children’s Choir, took the stage to start the festivities. After serenading the audience with their angelic voices, the street dancers soon took over. These guys are serious in their craft; dancing to their soul’s delight, rampaging barefoot on the beach, matching every beat of the drum.
|SEA TURTLES ON THEIR WAY TO THE SEA|
The most awaited event of the day was the releasing of sea turtle egg hatchlings right by the beach. Everyone was very excited to get a photo of the turtles that the whole thing turned into a mad bedlam of people being shooed away to clear the way for the cute critters slowly making their way to the sea.
|FIERY SUNSET OVER THE FESTIVAL GROUNDS|
The heat being too much, we went back to Hotel Brizo right after and checked out the Morong Church before having a quick snack at Loleng’s Hu Tieu-an’s Vietnamese noodles. We went back to the festival grounds as the sun fried the horizon in glowing embers.
|DEFINITELY A GREAT TIME AT BATAAN’S PAWIKAN FESTIVAL|
I thought then that it was a nice way to end the year’s Pawikan Festival, but I was wrong. We were not just about finished yet. A local band took to the stage and now it was our time to dance and party at the beach. Well, the night’s still young, let’s get it on!
Bataan Pawikan Festival
Festival Date: Last week of November, annually
Address: Brgy. Barangay Nagbalayong, Morong, Bataan
Provincial Tourism: (047) 237-4785 to 4476
GPS Coordinate Map: 14.660361, 120.288579
THIS TRIP IS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE BATAAN PROVINCIAL TOURISM