Baler: Nine Things To Do At The Heart Of Aurora Province
The northeastern province simply has tons to offer every intrepid traveler, thrill seekers, and wanderers, both local and foreign, could not resist. This Aurora trip, however, was not about us but a very good friend who crossed the vast Pacific and flew halfway across the world in search of the American dream. Returning to the Philippines for a short vacation, squeezing an activity-filled vacation would be difficult. Fortunately, there’s Baler to fill in the gaps.
Sixteen hours earlier, the eager beaver trio left Manila and when I was packing my stuff, they were getting busy with their tan under the Sabang Beach sun. Direct buses to Baler were only until 7AM so I was left with taking two transfers. Five Star Buses have regular trips to Cabanatuan, and from there I could catch a van to Baler. However, the Cabanatuan-Baler schedules were indefinite. I just hoped I’d be able to catch the last trip, and fortunately I did. After my grueling 7-hour trip, I arrived in Baler past midnight. The long haul gave me a safe journey through the pitch black roads of the Siera Madre Mountains in Nueva Vizcaya to Baler Terminal.
Green sawali walls of BBC Inn.
Dining in the so called, “Rolling Store”, with lots of viands to choose from.
Among the numerous guest houses and hotels along Sabang Beach, BBC’s P700.00 room with a single queen size bed and a private C.R. installed would suffice our 4-day endeavor in the coastal province. Distinct green ‘sawali’ (woven split bamboo mats) walls make BBC easy to find when wandering along Sabang Beach’s breakwater. Across the room is an open hut guest may use for dining or viewing the huge waves of the vast Pacific.
If in search of a hefty but low cost meals, rows of eateries called, “The Rolling Store”, offering budget-friendly viands, tons to choose from. Under large colorful umbrellas, indulge in authentic Filipino home-cooked dishes al fresco style. At The Rolling Store, one would definitely get a bang for their buck. Why named Rolling Store? Even its vendors do not know the history.
Inside the house of Dona Aurora.
Get down to Baler’s cultural and historical roots in Museo de Baler located just behind the Rolling Store. The museum holds significant artifacts, cultural heritage, and famous residents of the town like Dona Aurora Quezon, the wife of Former President Quezon. Might as well visit the home of one of Baler’s prominent figure Dona Aurora Quezon’s house which is a few meters from Museo. Getting to know the colorful history of Baler and the rest of Aurora is best done with a stroll around town.
Automated Teller Machines (ATM’s) are a tricycle ride away from Museo de Baler. Landbank and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) ATM’s are located along the national highway just in front of the Aurora Tourism Office and Aurora Government Office. Travelers, and residents as well, would never run out of juice.
Aurora Tourism Office
Aurora Provincial Government Building
Steps leading from the park to Aurora Provincial Office.
Part of our day’s itinerary is a trip to one of Baler’s coastal baranggay called Zabali which holds an isolated counterpart of the bustling Sabang Beach.Through occasional drizzles in cliff side bumpy roads and landslide paths, we made it safe and sound to Digisit Beach (click to read full article on Digisit Beach).
Spending the entire day in Digisit‘s kilometer stretch of coral beach was worth a visit. Our awesome but tiring day has come to end so we made our way back to Sabang Beach, while dropping by Baler Wet Market in Suklayin to buy meat and vegetables for our gourmet dinner back in BBC.
The cool breeze of the night swept Sabang Beach’s shores. Ocean mist brought by strong winds sends salty sprinkles on our faces. While we were cutting and slicing parts of our chicken barbeque, the winds were howling like wolves stalking their preys. We celebrated our night with a nice dinner and chit-chat over a few drinks. A swim in Sabang Beach, home-cooked viands in Rolling Store, a cultural visit in Museo de Baler, a whole afternoon in Digisit Beach, ending the day with beers and barbeques – my first day (second for them) was very well-spent.
Having dinner and some few drinks.
Early morning swim in Sabang.
Thundering roars of waves crashing rampaging towards the beach can be heard from our beds. It was an invitation for an early morning dip in Sabang Beach’s refreshingly cool water. After a morning bath, where else to get a hearty breakfast rather than The Rolling Store.
An adventurous addition to our bucket list of activities is a day hike at the feet of the Siera Madre Mountain Range to San Luis’ Mother Falls. Going to San Luis is about an hour tricycle ride from Sabang until reaching Baranggay Ditumabo where our on-foot adventure kicks off. Under huge tree canopies of the rainforest we hiked through moss-covered paths and muddy trails, crossed streams with strong currents, and hopped one boulder to another before we reached the majestic Mother Falls of Baranggay Ditumabo.
Challenging the strong currents of the stream.
Hiking in Ditumabo got us tired and worn out, but the thrill of accomplishment was rewarding enough to keep us going. Again for the nth time, we went to the Rolling Store to fill our rumbling tummies seeking something to digest.
In Bay-Ler View’s restaurant, we watch the full moon rise illuminating the sea and sat under the glittering stars, while consuming Filipino “pulutan” (finger foods matched with beer and alcoholic drinks) delicacies and drinking ice cold beer. Instead of getting our own table, we sat by the break water as we sang beach tunes in harmony with the ocean’s waves in an orchestra of their own.
Lit by the full moon and under the glittering stars we sat and celebrated such a beautiful night.
Any Baler vacation would not be complete without surfing, or at least try to surf. Before we end our four-day frenzy in Aurora, we borrowed a long board hoping to catch some waves and at least try riding it.
Waves in Baler reach a staggering height of feet during the surfing seasons from September to February which attracted visitors from locally and across the globe. Waves during our visit weren’t even half as tall on surfing season but I was not able to stand up, but at least I tried. My hopes are still up and with a little more perseverance and commitment, I’d be able to ride like a pro.
Instructor teaching student what surfing is all about.
Surfing in Baler.
At least we tried… at least we tried.
Souvenirs like shirts, fans, treats, sweets native products, wallets, and everything you can think of can be bought in Baler Pasalubong Center which is conveniently located beside the bus terminal. Prices begin as low as P10.00 coin purse which goes up depending on the item. With Baler’s Pasalubong Center you’ll never go back home empty handed.
Tons of souvenirs to choose from in Pasalubong Center.
Summing up our Aurora Province experience is the joy ride back to Manila on board Genesis Transport’s Joy Bus. With it’s wide 2-1 seater unit, a pillow and blanket, and more added features, Joy Bus guarantees a comfortable 4 to 5 hour trip.
Genesis Transport’s Joy Bus.
Baler is a town with lots to offer and destinations to see. You may not do everything all in one visit but there’s always a slot in our must-do list on our next journey. So before I end this blog, let me recap 9 things you can do in Baler.
1. Eat at Rolling Store
2. Know the culture and history of Aurora in Museo de Baler.
3. Visit Dona Aurora Quezon’s house
4. Isolate yourself in Digisit Beach
5. Trek to the Mother Falls.
6. Dine and drink in Bay-Ler View’s restaurant.
7. Surf in Sabang Beach.
8. Buy souvenirs in Baler Pasalubong Center.
9. Ride the Joy Bus.
This blog is dedicated to my friend, Tammy, whom I never seen after high school, and after a few years I’ve heard she’s halfway across the planet. Our Baler trip was tailor made not to include any American thing, but make it 100% all Filipino. We wanted to show her what Juan Dela Cruz can offer which Uncle Sam cannot.
Thank you very much, Tammy. Your B-52’s will be waiting for you. Until next time.
Now here are some fast facts which may help on your trip:
1. Commuting via Cabanatuan:
Take a bus to Cabanatuan-SCTEX Five Star Bus cost around P180.00. Alight at the Cabanatuan Terminal and where the van to Baler is. Fare cost P220.00. Now, I’m not sure about the last trip but I was there around 8PM. A fellow passenger who lives in Baler told me that there’s still a next trip.
2. BBC’s Green Room cost P700.00 per night. It has one bed, a regular C.R., and a fan. The gazebo/hut is free of use. It has a bench, a cabinet, and a long table. A nice view of Sabang Beach is also included with the package.
3. The Rolling Store is at the town proper, beside Museo de Baler. To go there, ask the tricycle to take you there. Food cost P30.00-P40.00 per order.
4. Tricycles are the best way to get around town. If you’re going on a tour better hire a tricycle for the whole day. Finding a tricycle in some baranggays might be difficult.
5. Surfboard rentals cost P150.00-P200.00 per hour.
6. More destinations in Aurora Province in Biyaheng Aurora.
7. Like BIYAHERONG BARAT on Facebook.
8. Be safe and enjoy your trip.