Caught in the Moment – Baler, Aurora

Baler, Aurora Daytrip Series (Part 2)


The Dicasalarin Cove

Right after a walk down the historic Baler Plaza, Kuya Michael and I met up and resumed our adventure. I was a little cautious while driving the single motorcycle I rented, but it didn’t took long before the adrenaline started pumping as I got faster along Cemento Road. We happened to pass by almost everything the province has to offer from beaches to waterfalls to stunning rock formations and the like. But we opted to go for the last and least visited place, the Dicasalarin Cove. You can also reach this place by boat.

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Around 20 minutes on a steep uphill road, we caught glimpse of the PAGASA Weather Station and its doppler radar, first in the country and the light house. It was no easy drive going to the cove since the inclination of the road is rather frightening if you had just one wrong move. Then upon reaching the gate we paid for the entrance fee as well as the parking fee and the cove welcomed us in its full tropical glory. The place is a private property owned solely by the Angara Family.

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Upon reaching the cove by 1:10pm, I immediately took a good walk on its fine white sand beach and had a good look on its clear blue waters and the accompanying raging waves.

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Since the tide is low, my guide suggested that we visit the Punta Encanto Cave which only appears when the waters go low. A good 10 minute walk facing the pacific and we reached the cave in no time. During high tides one may opt to swim to reach it.

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This is a good place to swim if the stifling heat becomes unbearable. The water inside is just around 4 to 5 feet and varies according to the tide.

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After a good swim, I headed for the Dicasalarin Light House which is just above the gargantuan islet housing the cave. It will take you 140 steps before you reach the origami like structure that serves as a beacon for the vessels passing by the Baler Bay and the cove.

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The afternoon siesta time finally hit me, so I headed back to one of the cottages to catch some good zzzz’s before tidying up and get on the adventure mode again.

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A quick nap by the beach and I tidied up and explored the place some more, from the Ifugao Cottages, an old bridge will lead you to a forested area that contains a treasure inside it called the Artist’s Village. An hour more of trek and a waterfall is waiting for any visitor who wants to visit it.

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The Artist Longhouse perfectly represents the province’s skill in wood carving, architecture, and the love for the arts. This is a three-storey open structure that has paintings inside, furnitures, sculptures and many more.

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The Diguisit

One thing I noticed about Aurora is its unlikely penchant for places that start with the word “DI” (Dinadiawan, Dingalan, Dikildit, Ditumabo, Dicasalarin) but this time I’ll be heading to the famous Sitio Diguisit of Brgy. Zabali.

Heading back to the Cemento Road is again a challenging task of going back through the steep roads where we came from. And first on our list as we got down is the Tromba Marina.

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Since tgere’s not enough time for me to climb the Ermita Hill, that happens to be Baler’s highest peak overlooking the bay, I just took a good look at the sculpture of seven people holding each other’s hand as a wave comes after them. This commemorates the devastating tsunami that wiped down the whole town on December 27, 1735. They represent the seven families that seek refuge at the top of the Hill. The Angara’s and the Bitong’s of which are the oldest surviving clans up to the present day Baler.

Next is the Dimadimalangat Islets, consisted of massive rocks protruding from the shore, and is battered by the waves and scuplted by nature over time immemorial.

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Next to the Islets is the Diguisit Falls, which happens to be just a short walk from the side of the road.

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By 4:40pm, we reached the Digusit Beach and its rocky shore that leads to the Aniao Islet. Also dubbed as the Cobra Beach, due to the waves during swell months that looks similar to cobras slithering up with its head held up high, high waves indeed.

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Then our last stop for the day was the Baler Hanging Bridge which is at Brgy. Zabali, the sun has finally set from the horizon and my trip is now coming to an end. I reached the hanging bridge by 5:30pm and the sunset from here was quite awesome.

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From the Hanging Bridge, I had my last ride with my habal-habal going to the public market where the commuter vans are now waiting. I got back at Cabanatuan by 11pm, and was back at Manila by 1:30am the following day.

I can now finally say that Baler is indeed a great place to spend your vacation, and if not applicable, a day trip is still possible but not for the faint hearted. Only a day passed but it felt like several days to me. It is good knowing that whatever challenges that you are facing right now, a good adventure will take away all your worries of the hustle and bustle of the city, just remember that everything seems to crazy until you prove them otherwise. Get caught in the moment, live it!

Budget and Itinerary

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 Islets
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

Total Damage:
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, or to Dingalan, Aurora which is an hour and a half away and the one bordering the Quezon Province

It’s like Forrest Gump said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates.’ Your career is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. But everything you get is going to teach you something along the way and make you the person you are today. That’s the exciting part – it’s an adventure in itself.
– Nick Carter

Go, Carve That Niche,
Rex

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