Weekend Getaway in Baler, Aurora
Traffic volume piled up on major thoroughfares due to earlier down pour and I was rushing to make it to our 10PM call time at the Genesis Bus terminal in Kamias. Bus enroute for Baler leave at 1:00 AM but a friend advised us to be as early for large number of passengers anxioulsy await the first weekend bus.Among the anxious passengers were three adventure seekers on their way to kick start the year with a weekend getaway in Baler, Aurora.
Tensed passengers swarm like ants towards the Casiguran bound bus when it arrived but it can not accommodate everyone. Casiguran passengers were prioritized but everyone battle their way in through the tight door of the bus. Instead of hustling through the crowd, we waited for the Baler deluxe bus which shortly arrived soon after.
Waiting for the Baler Bus at Genesis Bus Terminal
On the window side I sat comfortably on the deluxe bus’ wide reclining seats with a lot of room for your tired feet. Even before the bus left I fell asleep. Next thing I knew, my eyes opened to fields enclosed in a wall of huge mountains of the Sierra Madre half lit by the morning sun. The bus came to a halt on a diner called Green Forest Restaurant smacked beside a dirt road in the middle of nowhere.
Deluxe Genesis Bus in Green Forest Stopover
Backyard of Green Forest Restaurant
In the middle of Sierra Madre mountain range
Finally reaching Baler’s Transport Terminal, the last stop, we were on a hunt for a hefty grub before pushing through with our journey. Around the terminal are eateries and carinderias selling a variety of home-cooked dishes. An order of Bicol Express, a small bowl of monggo, and one cup of rice cost me only P50.00.
After a hefty breakfast, a tricycle, the most common mode of transportation, took us from Poblacion to the coastal baranggay of Sabang for a price of P12.00 per person. The 8-hour endeavor rewarded us with a majestic view of the Pacific’s roaring waves towered by thick rain clouds.
A kubo facing the Pacific Ocean in front of Elaine’s Inn.
A hazy afternoon in Sabang Beach.
Before everything else, we searched for a cheap inn to stay for the night. We went from one resort to another until we all agreed to stay at Elaine’s Inn. Our small fan room has one big bed, with a pull out bed under it, a C.R., a sink, cabinet, mirror, and a Fire Exit, and there’s a sari sari store in front that you can knock late at night for beer and cigarettes. Not bad for P600.00.
Baler had tons to offer the intrepid traveler but to our dismay, time was not on our side so we have to make the most out of our time constrained Baler escapade. And on top of our itinerary is a laid back morning on Sabang Beach.
Two languages are spoken in Baler – Tagalog and surfing. Sabang Beach is frequented by surfers for its huge swells during the surf season. In other areas of the beach, there are beginner-friendly waves where surf lessons are held. As much as eager beavers want to have lessons, the sea was pretty agitated not good for beginners. Instead, in Sabang’s smooth shores we skimboarded the entire morning before we headed out to our next adventure.
Surfing the morning waves.
Surfing in Sabang Beach in Baler, Aurora.
Board rentals and surfing lessons.
Another fun activity in Sabang Beach is skim boarding.
Skim boarding the beach’s smooth shores.
South of Baler is a town of San Luis which sat at the foothills of Sierra Madre, and beneath the mountains lie a magnificent natural wonder called Mother Falls. To get ourselves in San Luis, we hired a tricycle to take us in Baranggay Ditumabo for a suprisingly cheap P120.00 ride. Now, that’s a bargain.
From the well-paved highway, we took a right to a rough road before crossing the Ditumabo bridge. The ascent began with a manageable incline on a path of gravel and clay which turned to steep slopes of large rocks until we reached the ranger station.
Ascending through this rocky path
Passing by streams from the Mother Falls.
Beside the ranger station is the Hydroelectric Power Plant where the trail to the Mother Falls begin. Following the enormous pipes lead the trail towards the falls through terrains of slippery paths, strong currents, and moss-covered rocks.
Roars of the mighty falls’ powerful drop echo through narrow gorges and it gets louder as we get nearer. At the end of the trail was a magnificent view of the majestic Ditumabo Falls. The power of the 140-foot single drop can be felt as it tremble its way to the catch basin. The grueling hike was refreshed with the spray of cool mist caressing the entire body. To sum it all up, Ditumabo Falls, also known as, the Mother Falls, was simply breath taking. Our long haul was rewarded.
Strong currents making it a bit harder to cross the streams.
As we head back to Sabang, the tricycle’s back tire went flat due to the rugged terrain it descended from the ranger station. Luckily, we passed by a vulcanizing shop which took almost an hour of repairs. It was a late afternoon when we got back to our small room. Our worn out feet was begging for a quick rest before we feed our adventurous souls.
Revitalized by a quick nap, we got back on our feet to wander around the beach. A few minutes walk from our inn was the lifeguard watch tower area filled with a happy local scene. Friendly smiles greeted us as we went from food stall to another looking for a late afternoon snack of ihaw ihaw or grilled foods. We sat by the breakwater’s makeshift benches while we indulge in our barbeques and grilled intestines. The night ended with ice cold beers we intoxicated ourselves with as we sat by a cottage facing the Pacific’s cool breeze.
Repairs made on a roadside vulcanizing shop.
An afternoon rest in Sabang Beach. Simply enjoying the view.
Sabang Beach’s Lifeguard Post making sure everyone is safe.
Street delicacies sold not far from the life guard tower.
The morning scene at Sabang beach was as vibrant as the blue morning sky. Adults chat with the local neighborhood and at the same time watching over their kids running and playing along the shore. I watched this man armed with a pole and line patiently waiting for his morning catch. Everyone were busy with their local morning routine.
Kids playing at the shore
The fisherman stands still waiting for his catch while waves crash the break water.
Last, but not the least, in our itinerary is to wander around the town proper or Poblacion. Instead of taking a tricycle, we decided to stretch our legs and walk our way to town. It was twice as busy compared to rural scene at the Sabang. Most residents just finished mass at the Baler Catholic Church where the year long Siege of Baler took place during the final days of the Spanish colonial. Beside the church is the Municipal Hall and Town Plaza where most community events are held.
Baler Town Plaza
A vendor waiting for the mass to end in Baler Catholic Church
Like most community layouts inspired by Spanish architecture, around the town plaza are houses of prominent figures in town. In Baler, among the well-known is the wife of a former President, Dona Aurora Quezon whose house still stood as a museum. Displayed inside are traditional Filipina gowns calledbaro’t saya.
Not far from Dona Aurora’s house is Museo de Baler or Baler Museum which was unfortunately closed on my second visit. However, it holds treasures of Baler and most of Aurora in heritage, culture, and arts. Outside the red bricked structure is a statue of the former President Manuel L. Quezon who was a proud resident of the district of El Principe, now known as Baler.
Museo de Baler
Dona Aurora Quezon’s Home
Inside the house of Dona Aurora.
River separating Baranggay Sabang and Baler Town Proper.
Souvenirs sold in a shop beside the bus terminal.
Baler is a mixture of adventure, culture and history any curious traveler would love to experience and learn. Thrill seekers are offered with surfing and nature tripping. Learn the ways of the town’s past by visiting historical destinations. Best thing about Baler, spending a weekend vacation here is cheap.
Now, here are some fast facts that may help you on your trip:
1. Genesis Bus Lines
-They have direct trips from Manila to Aurora.
-First trip is the Casiguran Bus (which passes by Baler) at 1:00 AM
-Fare cost P404.00 from Cubao to Baler, Deluxe Baler Buses cost P500.00 but it is comfortable.
-Contact their terminal to confirm trips. (02) 4211413
2. Check the weather
-since Baler is situated facing the open ocean, storms frequent the place.
3. Inn and resorts range from P500.00 – P2,000 and up. If you are there for the place, better look for cheap but safe inns.
4. Tricycles to Ditumabo Falls can be haggled to P250.00 from Baler to the jump off point of the falls.
5. Meals are cheap, but some canned goods could help with your budget.
6. Enjoy and make the most out of every trip.
7. See Biyaherong Barat Multiply for more pictures.
8. You might want to see
- Baler – Heart of the Aurora Province
- Digisit Beach, Baler
- Mother Falls in San Luis, Aurora
- 1st Surf & Music Festival
9. Please LIKE BIYAHERONG BARAT on Facebook.