Aurora. A province named after the lady-love and wife of the late President Manuel Quezon. If anything, this story is just utterly romantic.
One of its towns is Baler, considered to be one of the last frontiers of Central Luzon. With a sizable forest cover to this day and 328 kilometers of pure coast, it is a seaside town that offers surfers the best waves.
The town also boasts of a unique place in Philippine history as the last stronghold of the Spaniards during the Spanish-American War. Depicted in a movie aptly titled Baler, the unrelenting Spaniards took refuge in a church for an entire year unwilling to surrender to the Americans then. The town’s colorful history are relived in the halls the town’s Museo de Baler, that has also kept artifacts from the Spanish era.
Getting to Baler is even more convenient with only a five-hour drive or bus ride to this coastal town. Maybe, a convenient alternative to Boracay, Baler is a quieter places as well. Deciding not to drive ourselves to this coastal town, my family and I all boarded the luxury Joy Bus from Cubao to Baler. Leaving past midnight, we arrived in Baler by breakfast. In fact, getting on the bus turned out to be a wise and convenient choice for a weekend getaway.
Despite its size, Baler town has well-organized tourist amenities with tricycle drivers accredited as tour guides. This little town is very clean and well-kept. The red life-sized Baler sign is a fantastic landmark for tourists to remember the town by. Sabang Beach is where most tourists drive to with Costa Pacifica, a sprawling resort with glass floor-to-ceiling view windows fronting the beach. Staying here, one wakes up to a magnificent view of an early sunrise. With wide and spacious rooms, a room can accommodate large families.
The service at Costa Pacifica though was not quite impressive. Dining choices are a bit limited in town and Thelma’s is the place most hie off to. But, of course the best treats in Baler everyone simply has to savor are Nanay Pacing’s Peanut butter and coco jam.
Along Sabang Beach, one will find a myriad of restaurants and surf shops. There’s Dialyn’s bakeshop that bakes really yummy red velvet cupcakes and breads. From burgers, shakes, to fishballs, the stretch of Sabang Boardwalk will not disappoint.
Sabang boardwalk is quite busy day and night with swimmers, vendors, and surfers strolling along its entire span. The huge Pacific waves though a bit tame that weekend proved to be a good challenge for the tweens and teens in the family who bravely hopped on surfboards for the first time. Surfing is about P350 an hour with a guide who stays with you as the waves surge high or low.
Aside from the beach, there is so much more to see and do around Baler. And so, my brother decided that all 15 of us would tour Baler province on a tricycle. Hence, we found ourselves on board a convoy of tricycles driving from Ditumabo Falls, to the Balete Millenial Tree on the other side of town, to as far as Dicasalarin Beach, and then to the Hanging Bridge. Oh my! It was a unique and bumpy ride all day that was worth it! Yet, it was the trek towards the Ditumabo “Mother” waterfalls in Baler, however, that we enjoyed most. Wading through gushing water and rocks till we reached the waterfalls was simply fun and exciting.
Lest I sound like a travel brochure, Baler is really all about sun, surf, and snorkel. And if you have plans for a last summer weekend, Baler might just be the perfect place to see!