(Updated March 2018) Baler is known for many things. Surfing, being one of the more famous reasons. But, since it is also sitting on our eastern seaboard, sunrises can really be lovely this side of the country. Ber months won’t have good sunrise photos but you can try your luck. The photo above was taken in November 2014 using a gopro hero 3 BE.
Baler got its name from an old Spanish dictionary-like book, which said the name originated from the word batod referring to a mountain dove. Another theory was that in many Spanish books, the place was referred to as Valero thus the name Baler. (source: http://www.aurora.ph/baler-aurora-book/spanish-occupation.html)
So, after getting my history books checked, it was time for a tour. The tour guide knew where to take me, so I let him lead the way -which I have in turn to all my friends that I brought there in the years that followed.
My first ever tour of Baler started with the nearest – the humble abode of President Manuel Quezon (obviously from whom the province was named after – Aurora only became an independent province in 1979 and before that it was a part of Quezon Province) and wife Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon (again, from whom the province was named after). But the times I came back, I only brought friends to Ditumabo, Dicasalarin, Ermita Hill and the Hanging Bridge to the tour. The rest, because they were just in sentro, like the museo, the church, and Doña Aurora’s house can be explored on foot without the need for hiring a tour guide.
The Baler church (San Luis Obispo de Tolosa), where the siege of Baler (movie with Jericho Rosales and Anne Curtis) took place, was already renovated and didn’t look like the ruined version anymore. The siege of Baler, which lasted for a year, ended the 300-year reign of the Spaniards in the Philippines.
Then we went to the Baler Museum, where Sen. Angara has a very huge contribution on.
Then we went to the town of Maria Aurora (named after the youngest daughter of the powerful but humble couple) – the only town in Aurora that doesn’t have a coastline. The eerie, curiosity-filled experience I had when I literally walked in to the 500 year-old Balete tree was amazing. I was scared at first, but there were resident kids there who guided me as I braved the dark, cold inside of the tree.
The boys could climb it, which is about 5 floors high, in 10 seconds. It was just breath-taking to watch them do their stunts as fellow local tourists like us crowded and cheered them. I wanted to try to climb it, but flat-footed as I am, I decided against it.
So we went off to the great Mother Falls as what they call it, in San Luis. The rough road was bumpy (haller, rough road nga eh), and on top of that, you would have a 1.3-km trek before reaching the actual entrance to the Ditumabo Falls.
We had to cross a few streams and make-shift bridges, before we got to “heaven”.
Oh my, the water is so clean, the majestic falls lorded over the entire place. Then I understood how it got its name. The basin used to be much deeper the first time I went there. But recently, I could stand without being submerged on the way to where water fell to the ground. Some rocks are slippery so be careful.
Anyone trekking there can not bring any form of food, nor bottled water (that was 2012 but in my recent return in Sept 2015 – people brought bottled drinks). They encouraged water in jugs or tumblers because they wanted to preserve the virginity of this wonder. A donation of any amount is accepted at the entrance (2015-an entrance fee of PhP 30 is mandatory per pax). You won’t regret a penny once you experience Ditumabo.
Stopping over for lunch at Baler Sentro is always a good idea. Mary loved the “violet suman” sold in town, as well as the local breakfast place serving tapa – one of the best we’ve had.
Also included in the northern part of the tour is Diguisit Beach – entrance fee: PhP20.00. It had brown stone formations and pebbled shores.
Very nearby are the Lukso Lukso (Aniao) islets, so called because you needed to HOP from one rock to another to move around.
Diguisit falls can also be seen from the road. It is small and when you stand under it, you’d feel like you’re just taking a shower–with your clothes on.
You can also stop by the fishing port to have a glimpse of the Cemento Reef, where most experienced surfers go, with waves as tall as 15 feet on a good surfing day. That day, because of the habagat, no huge waves can be seen.
We then went up the famed Ermita Hill, the highest point of Baler. It was told that families ran to this hill to flee from the raging tsunami, thus the marker at the bottom of the hill to commemorate the survival of these families in that tragedy.
From the top, one can see the classic river-meets-the-see scene.
On a separate, much later trips in 2014 and 2015, we went to Dicasalarin Cove and the Hanging Bridge. Check out the blog!
This is me and my love affair with Baler since 2012.
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