Why Baler? Curiosity, desire to go on vacation alone, wanting to travel to places I haven’t been to, sounds a fun place, and I just wanted to have some time alone.
From cubao, i took the Genesis bus which goes directly to Baler. Didn’t check the time but it was around 7-8 hours to baler. Contrary to what the people of Genesis were shouting at the terminal we didn’t pass the SCTEX, instead we headed thru the busy roads of the downtowns of Bulacan (false advertisement!). Starting from Pantabangan, the trip was a tiring 3-hour long, zig-zaggy, bumpy, landslide prone with matching ear-popping songs from a marathon of Aegis songs. The scene from Pantabangan up to Maria Aurora was very beautiful to say the least.
There were minor setbacks along the trip. What I have were only places to go to and from the terminal, I was clueless on where I was. It’s a DIY vacation with only one night of preparation so i took a ride to the munisipyo and good thing there’s a university near it and where there’s a university, there will always be an internet shop.
If you’re lost in some place and is afraid or shy to ask the locals, internet is your bestfriend. I quickly browsed the sites I’ve previously checked (but forgot to have a printout) to get some infos. After browsing for a few minutes, a group of college guys requested me to join their game in DOTA since they lack 1 more player to have a 5-on-5. I haven’t played it for ages but hey they’ve asked for it so I just generously gave them what they were asking. Little novices didn’t stand a chance against a Manileño who grew up playing that game after all. After the brutal beating, I was able to have a little chat with them. Napagkamalan pala nila akong college student din sa school nila. They were kind enough to give me directions, infos and suggestions on my itinerary. Infos from the locals were far more accurate than those found in the internet indeed.
I stayed at Bay’s Inn which is just along the coast. Beach in sabang doesn’t have the white sand found in some popular beach spots I’ve been to but being exposed to the Pacific Ocean, the waves in Baler were big enough to make it popular among tourist surfers.
Did I surf? Oh yeah! There are numerous surfing schools along the coast which offers surfing lessons. The lesson was 300pesos per hour (surfboard included) but since it was on the off peak season, they said that they’ll let me use it for as long as I want (too bad I don’t have the time for “as long as I want”). They’ve taught me the basics from paddling, to the control, the positioning up to the standing and balancing. Surfing was hard for someone who doesn’t know how to swim (what was I thinking!) so I was careful not to stray of far from the coast and if something does happen, there are a lot of lifeguards and a lot of swimmers/surfers around to save me. After much perseverance and numerous bump to the head by the surfboard I was finally able to stand up (or maybe just squat) on top of the board (and from my memory) for about 5seconds or 3 or 2 or 1. The fact is I was able to get up with my 2feet!
I didn’t have problems adapting to Baler. Locals were friendly and good thing they don’t speak ilokano or any provincial dialect which will definitely make it harder for me. Prices are still the same. Taho, fishball/squidball, kikiam, tukneneng, bananacue, and internet shop rental costs the same here in manila.
Around the munisipyo of Baler was the Quezon Memorial Park in honor of the late President Manuel Quezon, the museum Museo de Baler, the house of Manuel Quezon and outside was his car parked beside the house, and the Baler Church.
I attended the sunday mass at the Baler Church and gave thanks for the continuity of good health and safety of the people dear to me after that I ate my breakfast and resumed my adventure.
I was also able to visit almost all the places I planned to go to thanks to Kuya Adrian (trike driver). Ermita hill which offers a great view of the town central, Sabang Beach and the different islets around the coast of Baler; hanging bridge at zabali which is the most terrifying hanging bridge I’ve ever been to; the different islets from zabali, cemento and digisit; and the 600year old the biggest tree in Asia the grand daddy of all trees the balete tree in quirino, maria aurora.
The trip back to manila was totally different from the trip going there. Rather than passing thru the towns in bulacan, we used the SCTEX this time. And instead of heading to pantabangan, we passed thru the Sierra Madre. I have some small complaints on the condition of the road from pantabangan to maria aurora before for I didn’t know the status of the road in sierra madre. This was far far far more rockier, bumpier, rougher, scarier, more zigzags, more prone to landslide good thing its the scenes here was more scenic. I can safely say that during my Baler trip, the scenes here in the Sierra Madre was the most beautiful.
I was alone during the trip but thanks to the infos posted on different sites (aurora.ph, provinceofaurora.blogspot.com, trishabiik.multiply.com, sorry forgot the others) and my officemates (rhona, asley and john) who were patient enough to entertain me on my questions about Cabanatuan, my trip was a safe and successful one.
The experience of having gone to baler was truly an enjoyable one it was short but a very much needed vacation. There was so much to see during the trip. Keeping the excitement all to myself wasn’t easy but giving yourself sometime alone in a lovely place really is a great experience. Probably the only frustration I have was not being able to have more time in a place as beautiful as that.