Travelling to Baler has been part of my itinerary since the time I learned about its existence through the movie “Baler” that acquired 10 0f 21 trophies handed out during the 2008 Manila Film Festival Awards.
I didn’t watch the movie personally but I saw the trailer. I know less bout the story and I ain’t gonna be talking about the movie’s plot, but how I was taken by the place, the setting, the background. No wonder after that movie was released Baler’s existence became more prominent. The stories I heard from friends and strangers alike who’ve been to Baler are enough to awaken the curiosity in me. And the request from Bryan urged me to finally set my feet to this land.
Baler is the capital of Aurora Province, east-central side of Luzon. It is known as the site of the last sack of resistance of the Spanish Armed Forces during the Filipino-Spanish War. Travel time from Manila to Baler through Genesis bus (the only bus company that travels from Manila to Baler directly) can take 8-9 hours. Since the province's main link to the rest of Luzon is through a narrow mountain gravel road that twists through the Sierra Madre Mountain Range (discover Aurora) expect a very non-comfortable trip. To have fun, try to enjoy the view of mountains, rivers, people and terrains.
Since Baler is facing the Pacific Ocean, it is known for its waves which are present almost all year that are good for surfing. Baler was featured also in one of the Hollywood film Apocalypse Now , a 1979 American epic war film. The US soldier’s surf scene in the said film was taken in Baler.
Knowing these details, I made it a point to take a dip at the Pacific sea and conquer Baler waves the way I did with La Union.
This is one of Baler’s highest points. From the hilltop you will see the panoramic view of sea water and nearby mountains. This place features a chapel, an ancient viewing point (to know when to send advance warning for incoming threats), cages of monkeys (yes, all caged animals are monkeys) and a ‘said-to-be’ tunnel (we tried to enter this tunnel but it appears to be just a hole and nothing more). It is about a 10-minute drive (thru tricycle) from the town proper.
|view from the hilltop of Ermita Hill Park|
|one of the monkeys in a cage|
|the steps towards the cross located at the top of Ermita Hill|
(if my counting was right, the stair has 275 uneven steps)
The life size stone sculptor dramatizes the catastrophe that Baler experienced December of 1935 when a tsunami hit the area engulfing almost the entire community that spared only 14 families.
Located in Brgy. Zabali, a rugged coastline that characterize waves of the Pacific Ocean. The place is indeed worth visiting. Diguisit Bay features pointed sea stones against shallow water. You can pick pieces of corals that are just anywhere in the area. Sea stone heaps are just a few meters from shore.
|the stony bay of Diguisit beach|
|locals picking corals|
Museo de Baler
If you want to go back to the timeline of history, it won’t hurt to pay a visit at Museo de Baler. This is just near the city center; you can either walk or take a tricycle (Php13.00) to take you here.
|the former President Manuel Quezon; a native of Aurora|
|The 1937 Cadillac series 90V 16|
(especially built by General motors for President Manuel L. Quezon)
|facade of the museum with its intricate wall carvings|
This beautiful falls is located roughly 30 minutes away from ‘poblacion’ (city proper) passing though a dirt road to Brgy. Real San Luis.
Basic and Necessary Information – Projected EXPENSES!
Fare from Manila to Baler -- Php500 (one way)
Transient (Bay’s Inn) -- Php700 (per night non-air conditioned room)
Cunayan Falls Entrance -- Php40/Php150 (two gates/cottages)
Museo de Baler -- by donation
Surfing -- Php350 (one hour lesson – board and instructor)
-- Php150 (surf board only)
Tricycle rental (tours) -- Php400 - Php500
Foods -- (there are ‘carenderias’ and restaurants in the area)