Location: Aurora Province, Philippines|
Region: III (Central Luzon) Coordinates: 15°46′N 121°34′E
Total Land Area: 72.55 sq. km. (28.01 square miles)
Nickname: Surfing capital of the Philippines
No. of Districts: Lone District
No. of Barangays: 13
Time Zone: PST (UTC+8)
Zip Code: 3200
Dialing Code: 42
Income Class: Second class municipality
Descriptive Summary: Baler is becoming a favorite tourist destination not only by surfing enthusiasts but with its majestic water falls, rich culture, picturesque islands and hospitable people. The proximity of its location being close to Metro Manila is one of the reasons why tourists choose it as the best alternative for an exciting escapade.
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Baler is becoming popular as a destination to visit due to its proximity to Manila, that is, for road travel of more than six hours, not to mention that it offers varied tourist destinations and activities like surfing, beach and island hopping, nature trek, spectacular sunrise viewing, and a few more.
Our group of three left Cubao at 12:15 midnight boarding a Genesis airconditioned bus. We had a bus stop at around 3:00 A.M., I suppose in Nueva Ecija. The weather was good and the night was so inviting. I frequently peeped in the window of the bus and the darkness of the night showcased countless of stars above the sky.
We arrived in Baler at 6:30 A.M. and we headed to our booked accommodation at Jam Jens Lodge through our contact Kuya Marlon but our reservation was no longer available since we were supposed to leave Manila at 7:30 P.M. based on the blog we have read. But the bus schedule was moved without definite time and so we waited till the actual departure of our bus.
Good that Kuya Marlon, the owner of Jam Jens Lodge allowed us to use their residential toilet and bathroom facilities for clean-up for free. Without sleep, we pushed through for a breakfast in the rolling store just adjacent to Baler de Museo, our first tourist destination. The museum itself has equipped us with so much history about Baler in particular and Aurora in general.
It was not difficult for us to move around since we chartered a tricycle of Jam Jens for a day tour package at P1,000, literally for the whole day including the points where we bought our personal stuff and have our lunch and dinner.
Just two blocks away, we visited the replica of Doňa Aurora’s ancestral house, the wife of the former Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon. The former was born in Baler and in fact the province got its name after her. Across the street is the Baler Church with its patron saint of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. The church has a significant role in the history of the Philippines as it served as site of the “Siege of Baler” during the Philippine Revolution from 1898 to 1899.
We had a 30-minute drive to Barangay Quirino of the next municipality in Maria Aurora where the giant balete tree in enshrined in a converted lot to a park. It charges an entrance fee of P5 for kids and P10 for adults. Makeshift stores and souvenir shops surrounds the area.
It is believed this Banyan tree is the largest in Asia or locally known as balete tree. It is so huge that the size of the roots that it occupies is about 10 to 15 meters in diameter and it is possible for 15-20 adult people to squeeze into the center of its root network and the tree is about 60 meters tall. Because of its age, it has also been known as the “Millennium tree”. Getting inside the tree is the most thrilling part. Local kids are willing to tour the guests inside at a minimal tip.
Ditumabo Mother Falls was our next destination where we had another 40-minute drive to San Luis, another municipality of Aurora. The tricycle we boarded just parked down the hydroelectric plant. From there, we had a mixed of river and dry trail trek. At some points, we had to have rock scrambling. We crossed few bamboo bridges and along our way giant water pipes leading to the falls.
The registration point to the water falls is so strict that no food and water is allowed beyond that point. Everything except camera and swimming gears has to be left at the registration point. No entrance fees are charged though you have to give a donation.
It was surprising to see that by the time we visited the Ditumabo Mother Falls, it was crowded with lots of people eager to experience this amazing nature showcase. The water was cold but it was very inviting to have a swim on its spacious and deep basin. The dramatic cliffs that hosts the powerful drop of the water falls are as spectacular as the water falls itself. By the time, we went back, some eateries and snack shanties were available to cool and feed us.
From San Luis, we had more than one hour drive heading to Diguisit Water Falls. It is accessible since it is just along the highway. From the opposite part, the scenic Baler Bay can be seen at some point and the totality of the Diguisit Rock Formations and the Aniao Islets can be captured.
We had so much time then and so we stayed longer in Diguisit Beach Resort though as we drive back, we drop by again at the Diguisit Water Falls.
There is an entrance fee at the Diguisit Beach Resort and vehicles are paid separately for the entrance. Open and enclosed showers are available also.
Driving along the highway is quite breathtaking as you see the whole picture of Baler Bay and its neighboring islets. At some points, we obliged ourselves to stop and have a better picture with Baler Bay as the backdrop.
Tromba Marina sculpture is symbolic of the eight survivors of the tsunami which devastated Baler on December 27, 1735 since they climb to Ermita Hill, the highest point of Baler. From the Ermita Park, a concrete stairs of 278 is climbed to reach the highest peak where these survivors stayed where a giant cross is erected.
Staying on top of Ermita Hill is just relieving and refreshing as fresh sea breeze coming from Baler Bay gently touches your face. This place is so perfect to unwind. From this point, you can see the whole of Baler town, Sabang Beach, Cemento and Dima-Dimalangat Islet.
Not all guests would brave to climb the 278 steps leading to the symbolic giant cross. When you dare do it, you would feel as if you were a part of the historic escape of the Tromba Marina survivors.
Another 40-minute drive followed heading back to our accommodation in Sabang Beach to have a clean-up and freshen up.
As part of conserving electricity, the parish church celebrates holy mass outside the church. But it was better to stay outside since it is hot inside even if the electric fans are on..
Excited to witness a sunrise at Ampere Beach located in the municipality of Dipaculao, I woke up as early as 4:00 A.M. I was alone boarding the chartered tricycle. We waited till 6:00 A.M. but it was cloudy and no magnificent sunrise has unfolded to my sight. I was disappointed that it was a total failure then.
Driving back to my accommodation though was quite rewarding as I have seen a lot of sceneries that only a rural Baler can offer.
Before I finally returned to my accommodation from my Ampere trip, I dropped by at the Doňa Aurora Quezon ancestral house since the other day, I could not get a better picture since it was flocked with a crowd of tourists.
There are a lot of expensive accommodation in Sabang beach resort and two of them are the Bahia and Costa Pacifica. The following pictures showcase the elegance and grandeur of staying in the prime Baler accommodation of Costa Pacifica.