Aside from its historical importance in the colonial years, Bataan is blessed with beautiful and majestic landscapes. Tourists flock Bataan to wander the trails of its towering mountains or relax in its serene and crystal clear beaches.
We chose La Primera Resort for our annual company summer outing despite the low rating and numbers of bad online reviews. We opt to stay at the resort because it is affordable and its rooms can accommodate larger crowds.
How to get there
There are two ways on how to get to the resort, either to take a bus to Olongapo or to Balanga. There are several starting points in Manila, but buses in Cubao have more frequent routes to these destinations. The team decided to take the bus ride from Cubao to Balanga and then take commute from Balanga going to Morong. Later did we realize that the better route should be bus from Cubao to Olongapo and then jeepney to Morong, which is faster and shorter than our selected route.
We departed Cubao via Bataan Transit at around 5AM and reached Balanga at 10AM. We decided to take breakfast at Jollibee Balanga before proceeding. Several meters away is the terminal of the mini bus going to Morong. Other than Morong, the terminal also offers transport services to other parts of Bataan such as Mariveles, Orani, etc., as well as to Olongapo.
It took us 2-3 hours before reaching the resort thru the mini bus, passing through the crossing to the Bantayog ng mga Bayani and the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. One may then take this route if you are planning to visit these sites.
The summer heat is intense and the idea of having the pool and beach nearby makes this relieving. Resorts occupy the whole stretch of the Morong shoreline. It won’t be difficult to find the resort that suites your need and budget.
Upon arrival at La Primera, the staff hosted us first in a big cottage while waiting for the current guests to vacate the room where we supposed to stay. It gave me ample time to observe the premises and the resort’s facilities.
We finished our lunch at 2PM, just at the same time the management allowed us to occupy our designated rooms, where we rented 3 rooms, two of which was occupied by 10 persons each and the big villa with 20 persons. Our room has five double decker bunker beds, enough to accommodate 10 persons, with one shower room/comfort room, a television, airconditioner, mini-fridge and a wall fan. Among these, only the aircon and the mini-fridge are working. Unfortunately, the resort has no cable coverage; hence, the TV is not really that useful. Power outlets are also limited. It would have been better to bring an extension cord or multiple USB charger coz surely everyone would need to charge their gadgets.
There is Wi-Fi installed by the resort but it ‘s not really helpful since Internet connection is too slow. I never attempted to connect, thanks to my data plan. Signal for all networks is available but connecting to the Internet proves to be a challenge because I am receiving 3G signals only. Nevertheless, I am thankful that I can upload photos and check social media even with the limited connection.
At the common areas, there is enough room for the occupants to cook and the resort even provides the cookwares. A grill is also available for use.
The resort has separate pools for adults and kids but these are small and crowded. I was more excited to swim at the ocean rather than at the pool.
At 3:00 PM, we rented a boat for island-hopping. The sun is still burning hot but it is more tolerable at this time around, and we just made sure to apply sunblock. The boat traveled for around 30 minutes and I can see the nearby peaks of Bataan and the picturesque view of the ocean with the backdrop of the dense forest and mountains.
Our destination is an adjacent rock formation located at the southern part of the resort. These rocks are slippery. Some of my officemates fell but luckily were not injured. The site is good for pictorials due to its mini white sand and rock formations, which complement the scenery. I love swimming, which was why I was disappointed that the site is not good for swimming. The shore is rocky and you could never walk barefoot because it will definitely prick you. You would need to walk/swim a few meters from the shore in order to swim. Given that the sun is still up and it is difficult to walk wearing slippers, I opted to stay and just appreciate what the place can offer us. I also noticed that there was trash littering on the beach. The water is cloudy and it looks unclean. Overall the place is good for taking pictures only.
At 4PM, we left the rocky beach to continue our afternoon adventure and our next stop was snorkeling! The boat crew provided us with goggles. The water is clean and clear, and everyone had fun swimming and diving but the fish were nowhere to be found. Perhaps it was getting dark and the fish are not visible, or it may be their feeding time and they need to go to the deep to feed.
Even without the fish, we found ourselves enjoying the swim. After all, that’s what I am looking for from the start of the trip. We returned to the resort delighted of the experience even if was not the best, but we still managed to enjoy the trip because of the people and the camaraderie we shared.
We spent the night at the resort, where the long day of traveling, island-hopping, snorkeling and swimming tucked me to sleep right away, which would also help me regain my strength for another long travel the next day. For those who did not sleep early, a videoke machine is also available for rent.
The resort is good but there are lots of things, which they need to address. Plumbing is horrendous. Most of the comfort and shower rooms have defective fixtures. Drainage is poor. The outside of the shower rooms is flooded. The resort was not well maintained either. Water supply is intermittent. When we were about to check out, we weren’t able to have shower because there is no water. There were delays in refilling the water tanks that caused delays in our checking out. The resort should also invest in good parking. Cars are just scattered in front of the resort, and the vehicles parked just about anywhere that ruin the beauty of the place.
People love to spend their weekends at the resort because they look forward to the beach and pool or have fun with water. I find the beach and seashore at the resort less enjoyable because of the litter. The resort owners and LGU should start a clean up drive of the beach if they wanted to keep their business. Sooner or later, people will avoid the place because it is dirty. The water is cloudy and uninviting and there are plastic trash floating. I wish they could save this place the soonest time possible.