Mariveles, the southernmost town of Bataan, is surrounded by three great bodies of water: West Philippine Sea, Corregidor Bay, and Manila Bay. As such, its name according to oral history was derived from the fish that was abundant in its seas. From Maraming Dilis to Mara-dilis, it metamorphosed into Mariveles through the passing of time.
Formerly called Camaya, Mariveles was a corregimiento (Spanish country subdivisions). Bagac, Morong, Corregidor Island, and the present-day Maragondon, Cavite were part of this corregimiento. In 1754, Governor General Pedro Manuel de Arandia issued a superior decree that created the Province of Bataan that included the “towns of Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Abucay, Samal, Orani, Hermosa, Dinalupihan, and Mariveles. All were former towns of the province of Pampanga.
The Eighty Years’ War or Dutch War of Independence spilled over in the Orient. Being a colony of Spain, the Philippines was dragged into this protracted war between its colonizers and the Dutch and none has been more fierce than the Battles of La Naval de Manila in 1646. The earliest and final days of this naval conflict were staged in the waters of Mariveles. In 1600 and 1609, the Dutch invaded Mariveles in their attempt to establish a commercial sea route along Southeast Asia.
During the Philippine-American War, it was in Mariveles where Major Manuel L. Quezon, aide-de-camp of General Emilio Aguinaldo, surrendered to the Americans.
On March 29, 1904, General Artemio Ricarte was arrested in Mariveles, Bataan by the Philippine Constabulary.
Before the Second World War broke out, Mariveles Naval Base was established and completed on July 22, 1941. It was used by the Asiatic Fleet of the US Navy.
On April 8, 1942, Major General Edward P. King, Jr., the commander of USFIP in the Peninsula, had resigned to the fate that Bataan could no longer wage a fight against the rampaging forces of the Japanese Imperial Army. It was in Mariveles that indeed Bataan has fallen! The arduous, ignominious, infamous Bataan Death March started two days later.
On June 21, 1969, President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Republic Act No. 5490, creating a special economic zone in Mariveles, Bataan, the first in the Philippines. This has made Mariveles, Bataan a bustling municipality today.