Monday, 5 May 2014

Backpacking in Baler



Hey there! How is everyone?

Last April, I channeled my inner Dora the Explorer and went to Baler, Aurora (Actually, I went to Baguio City, Cabanatuan City then Baler all in a span of 6 days!)

I was alone again, unfortunately. Sadly, my friends' requests for a vacation leave were not approved. But not wanting to have my vacation leave go to waste, I decided to have another solo adventure.


Baler is the provincial capital of Aurora Province. Since I was in Cabanatuan City at the time, it took me three hours travel time (six to seven hours from Manila on a regular airconditioned bus). I rode a non-airconditioned D'Liner bus. (Cost = Php 175). I arrived about eight in the morning in Baranggay Suklayin. I had a quick breakfast in one of the local eatery before starting my adventure (Cost = Php 55).

The best way to get around Baler is by tricycle. They're found all over the place and you can hire them for a tour. I find tricycle drivers in Baler very friendly and nice. I think it greatly helps the tourism in Baler. Kuya Gary, the tricycle driver who agreed to show me around Baler, was kind enough to give a half-day tour for Php 400 because I was just on my own. That's a hundred pesos less than the standard rate. Half-day tours are usually Php 500 and the tricycle can accommodate 3 people (so that's 500 divided between 3 people. Not bad ^_^).

Our first stop was Museo de Baler. There's no entrance fee when you go inside but there is a small donation box and a guestbook by the entrance. After registering my name, I dropped a Php 50 bill and went inside. The museum houses Baler's historic artifacts; from earthenware to old letters, reports and drawings from the Franciscan missionaries. In the museum, you can learn Baler's roots, colonization by Spain and know about the Siege of Baler. It also displays props and costumes from the FAMAS Best Picture "Baler".



Kuya Gary was nice enough to take my pictures! :)
Our next stop was the Doña Aurora Aragon House. Like Museo de Baler, there is no entrance fee. Just register your name and drop whatever amount you want in the donation box. This is the ancestral house and birthplace of the First Lady of the Philippine Commonwealth. The house itself has undergone restorations but the details and house design were kept. With its hardwood walls and nipa roof, the house still exudes the "Bahay-Kubo" feel. The house itself has a small gallery of the late President Manuel L. Quezon and his wife as well as small library. The restored presidential car is parked outside the house, inside a glass paneled room. Our third stop was the San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Church. Named after Baler's Patron Saint, San Luis Obispo, it's located just in front of the Doña Aragon House. Unfortunately, it was closed that day. (aww >_<).


Doña Aurora Aragon-Quezon House
Since we were still in the town proper, I decided to have lunch before we started on the Eco Strip part of the tour. I invited Kuya Gary to join me for lunch and that I'd be paying for him but he politely declined my offer. He told me he'll go by his usual business of giving tricycle rides within the town and to just text him when I'm finished. Recommended by a blog I visited, I ate at Gerry Shan. It's a buffet style restaurant that serves Chinese and Filipino cuisine. They mainly serve seafood but there's also a wide array of beef, pork and chicken. At Php 185 per person, it's a very affordable all-you-can-eat price! (And I am not ashamed to say that I came back three times. :P) One thing though, there were a lot of people but there weren't enough fans to cool the place down. Given the blistering summer heat, beads of sweat kept rolling down my cheeks as I ate. 

After lunch, Kuya Gary and I headed to our next destination: The Eco Strip part of the tour.  We first went to Añao or Aniao Islet. These are two small islands with small trees and shrub growing on top of the surfaces. We walked to the islet in about ten minutes. I climbed atop the Islet and Lo and Behold! The emerald~bluish sea greeted my eyes! We then proceeded to Ermita Hill. At the foot of Ermita hills were a bunch of statues depicting the climb of a family to the top Ermita Hill to escape a raging tsunami. 


Añao Islet and Ermita Hill
For being such a nice tour guide, I took Kuya Gary for a soda and sandwich before our next stop. Last stop of our Eco Strip: Dimadimalangat Islet, Digisit Beach, and Digisit Falls. Dimadimalangat Islet is a rock formation that is actually a small island. During low tide, you can walk from the reef to rock formations. Digisit Beach is a stretch of fine sand and coral reefs that are good for diving and snorkeling. Digisit Falls or sometimes called Lukso-Lukso Falls, is a small waterfall. It's open to the public and the cool water is enticing enough to take a dip and cool off the summer heat.


Dimadimalangat Islet, Digisit Beach and Lukso-Lukso Falls

Kuya Gary wanted to take me to the "Mother Falls" or Ditumabo Falls but it was forty minutes away, Unfortunately, it was almost four in the afternoon and I really wanted to try out surfing since I needed to leave early the following morning. So we both headed to Sabang Beach. In front of the beach are several stalls that offer surfing lessons. The standard rate is Php 350 that includes 1 hour of surfing lesson and a board. Kuya Gary was nice enough to watch my things while CJ, my surfing instructor, taught me the basics of getting up on my board. After 15 minutes of lesson, we hit the water.  It was fuuuuun! I got up on my board on my third try and was cruising the waves by my seventh. I guess doing Yoga helped me out with my balance. It was an awesome one hour! We paddled and surfed. I wiped out several times but I didn't care. I was having a blast! I enjoyed a bonfire that night before I went to my lodging, the Bay Inn.


Sabang Beach and Surfing Lessons
Before I went home the next day, I went for another hour of surfing but this time without an instructor. Baler is definitely ♥! 


COSTS FOR MY 2D1N STAY:

From Cabanatuan to Baler = Php 175.00
Breakfast = Php 55.00
Museo De Baler = Php 50.00
Doña Aragon House = Php 50.00
Buffet Lunch = Php 185.00
Soda and Sandwich = Php 100.00
Surfing Lesson = Php 350.00
Dinner = 60.00
Tricycle Tour = Php 600 (I gave Kuya Gary an extra 200 for being so nice and friendly)
Lodging = Php 500 (Fan room only)
Board Rental = Php 200.00
Breakfast = 60.00
Van from Baler to Cabanatuan = Php 220.00

Total Cost = Php 2605

I'll definitely come back! :)


Till the next adventure,
Spammy ~♥

4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. It was! ^__^ Hoping to have another one on our team building! ♥ Stay Jolly!

      Delete
  2. I hope to join you on one of your adventures Pam! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome to join me Nika! ^__^

      Delete