Live the Moment – Baler, Aurora

Baler, Aurora Day Trip Series (Part 1)

Explore your options and go for the less chosen, less conventional one; that is when an adventure sparks up the inner wanderlust. It may sound real crazy, but having no option for long vacations, nor leaves from your regular job, a spur of the moment decision  made me pack my backpack with a day’s worth of provisions for travel. They say that the secret is balance, find that contrasting spot between work and what you enjoy and make it work from there.

The Mother Falls

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Market Day at Baler

A day trip at Baler has been logistically possible, many had done it before and now’s my time to do it myself, solo backpacker mode: ON. 11pm I already queued for a seat at the Genesis Bus Terminal in Cubao for the 12 midnight trip, but the trip came in later than expected, by 1:00am the bus departed. Must’ve slept like a baby and I woke up by 5am somewhere in the mountain passes of Aurora, and two hours later, I arrived in Baler.

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Bucolic as it is

Prior to my arrival, I already contacted a local tourism guide before I rode the bus last night, he agreed to meet me by 7:30am, so I snagged a quick meal before meeting Kuya Michael. The time came and with no further ado, the tour started. First on the list is the Ditumabo Mother Falls located in San Luis, Aurora, it was a 30 minute early morning ride through provincial roads before reaching Brgy. Ditumabo. Landmark was a red bridge with a welcome sign then we turned left until we reached the parking area.

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Welcome to Ditumabo!

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We alighted and Kuya Michael also served as my guide as we trek up to the end of the river trail. It took us 30 minutes before the waterfall became a reality, the trek was rather easy since we passed by concrete sidewalks passing through a river that is fed by the falls and no steep inclines to be noted.

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River trekking to the Mother Falls
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Downstreams
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The so-called “Baby Falls” right next to the Mother

Definitely the summer season is in town but the downpour  from the 140 feet height surely was remarkable. Add up the cold and clear turquoise water flowing from is inviting to anyone who visits the place.

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5 more minutes.
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Ditumabo Mother Falls
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Let it rain, let it pour down
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The best will always be yet to come

The number of visitors continued to trickle in so I decided to continue the trip and left the Ditumabo Mother Falls by 9:00am.

The Millenium Tree

We were again back at the jump off point by 9:30am, and we proceeded to Brgy. Quirino in Maria Aurora to visit the famed Millenium Tree. Around 20 mins from Brgy. Ditumabo, is where the tree is located, and by 10am we were already at the area. Entrance fees are collected, but jolly old Kuya Michael has his ways and made me not to pay anything. So I spent a good 15 minutes looking around.

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Seems right out of a fantasy book, the Millenium Tree

Balete Tree or Strangler Fig, is a parasitic specie of tree that grows on top of another tree and eventually drains it out until it thrives on the nutrients the previous tree has. Stories tell that this tree had been here and is a sole witness of whatever transpired here for hundreds if not, thousands of years. A good number of people, 60 at the least shall be needed if tree hugs are to be made.

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You will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory
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Colossal!

The Search for the Perfect Swell

I immediately left the Ronquillo Eco Park and proceeded with my next destination before lunch time. Next on the list is Sabang Beach, almost half an hour before I reached the prime surf spot of Baler. I arrived by 10:40am and initially my plan is to take some surfing lessons before the afternoon. But it seems like the swells have subsided and waves are little to none, the perfect swell must’ve been lost and still on his way to Baler.

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Sabang Beach, Baler
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Seems like the swells have not visited for a while

Moving on, I rested for quite a while before we got back to Baler town proper where we had a good lunch consisted of Inihaw na Pusit, Tuna Sinigang and Pinakbet, all for 200php for 2pax!.

A Walk in the Past

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Baler Museum and its intricately made facade

Since our next destination is quite far, my guide went home to detach his sidecar and get another motorcycle so I could experience to drive my own habal-habal (for a fee). So he went home and I proceeded with some historical walk at the town plaza.

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Statue of Manuel Quezon at the center of the park

First on the list is Museo De Baler, where a number of artifacts are preserved. From the outside is the statue of Manuel Quezon sitting on his chair at the center of the park, and his presidential car licated on the right side that is displayed inside a glass house.

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Baler Town Plaza, where the instagrammable Baler signage is erected and is also where the municipal hall is located.

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The obelisk at the town plaza next to the signage
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Touristy. 🙂

The Church of Baler, San Luis Obispo De Tolosa, home to the 1899 Siege of Baler where a number of Filipino Soldiers died on this very area.

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Baler Church
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Baler Church’s Interior

The replica of Aurora Aragon’s house, wife of the late president Manuel Quezon, this is also where the probince got its name.

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The house of Maria Aragon

By 12:20pm, I did a final supply run for our snacks aboard my habal-habal ride and off we go!.

Baler, Aurora
Solo Daytrip Itinerary

0100  Departure from Cubao via Genesis Liner (450php/pax)
0700  Arrival at Baler, breakfast, meet guide
0730  Start Habal-Habal tour (800php/day)
0800  Brgy. Ditumabo, trek to Mother Falls (30php/entrance fee, 20php/parking fee)
0830  Ditumabo Mother Falls
0900  Trek back to jump-off point
0930  Back at jump-off, travel to Brgy. Quirino, Maria Aurora
1000  Millenium Tree
1015  Travel to Sabang Beach
1040  Sabang Beach
1100  Travel back to Baler town proper, lunch
1120  Baler Town, Lunch
1140  Baler town proper, visit Museo De Baler, Aurora Aragon House, Baler Church and Plaza.
1220  Travel to Dicasalarin Cove, Brgy. Zabali
1310  Dicasalarin Cove, visit Punta Encanto Cave and Lighthouse. (350php/pax entrance and parking fee)
1430  Back at the cottage, rest, tidy up
1520  Explore Dicasalarin Artists Longhouse
1545  Travel back to Diguisit
1615  Diguisit Beach, Dimadimalangat Islets, Diguisit Falls, Tromba Marina
1640  Diguisit Beach, Aniao Islet
1700  Travel to Baler Hanging Bridge
1730  Baler Hanging Bridge
1800  Baler Terminal, Dinner, tidy up
1840  Ride Van bound to Cabanatuan (230php/pax)
1930  ETD of Van
2300  Arrival at Cabanatuan Bus Terminal, take bus back to Manila (120php/pax)
0130  Manila

Budget:
Transportation: 800php
Fees:
Ditumabo 30php (Entrance Fee)
                   20php (Parking Fee)
Dicasalarin 300php (Entrance + Cottage Fee)
                    50php (Parking Fee)
Habal-Habal Tour 800php + 200php tip for Dicasalarin Cove

Total Damage:
Solo: 2200php/pax (Safe Budget: 2500php/pax)
3pax: 1600php/pax (Additional budget depends on arrangements with the tour guide)

Notes:
● From Cubao, you have three options:
– Take Genesis Liner Bus bound for Baler, trips start by 12mn, and bus schedule is on an hourly basis, travel time 6-7hrs
–  Take Joy Bus, the express coach of Genesis Liner, but costs 700php/way, travel time is 4-5hrs, no stop over, same schedule as the Genesis Regular Airconditioned buses
– Take ES Transport or Baliwag Transit Buses bound for Cabanatuan, then from Cabanatuan find Baler bound buses that starts their trip at 6am
● Manila bound Genesis Liner buses from Baler has last their last trip at 10am, if doing a daytrip, one can opt to take Cabanatuan bound vans at the Van Terminal behind the Public Market, last trip is at 7pm, then from Cabanatuan, ride Manila bound buses
● Tricycles can’t reach Dicasalarin Cove due to steep uphill roads, tour operators recommend to take single motorcycles/Habal-Habal, if you are in for an adventure, drive it yourself
● You can contact two of the local tourism guides of Baler for more info, I personally recommend their service:
Kuya Michael Dela Cruz – +639204365056
Kuya Wendell – +639099283851
● You can extend this Itinerary and travel to Casiguran, Aurora on Day 02, it is three hours away from Baler and is adjacent with Isabela Province

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