I have always wanted to go to Baler. Do you also like going to the beach? I mean, the sound of waves, breath of fresh air, slow moving clouds, blue sky, enticing sunrise, calming sunset, footprints on semi-white sands, close Sierra Madre mountain range, coconut trees, what else? We can add good food, party at night, and hospitality of locals. Can you picture those in your mind suggesting relaxation? Yes? So, let’s go!
I or some of you may have mistaken Aurora as a part of Quezon. Are you guilty of that? Let us search on Google through Wikipedia and dig some info. The Aurora Province was named after Doña Aurora Aragon-Quezon; the wife of one of the Philippine presidents; President Manuel L Quezon. Doña Aurora has a very interesting biography. Aurora Province is located in the eastern part of Central Luzon, its capital is Baler.
Doña Aurora Aragon-Quezon
President Manuel L. Quezon and First Lady Doña Aurora Aragon-Quezon
It used to be a part of Region IV, however in May 17, 2002, the president by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued an Executive Order No. 103 which made it a part of Region III. While on March 6, 1979 through Proclamation No 1828, s. 1979 on this date was set for the holding of plebiscite to decide the conversion of the sub-province of AURORA into an independent and separate province. In May 20, 1979, President Ferdinand E. Marcos set the date by virtue of power vested by law and pursuant to Batas Pambansa Building 7 for the holding of the plebiscite to determine whether the sub-province of Aurora shall become a separate and independent province. Having said so, Aurora is not part of Quezon anymore, it is a separate independent province called Aurora Province. I hope that helps. Quezon and Aurora are two neighboring provinces.
Political map of Aurora
Political map of Quezon
Aurora consists of 8 municipalities namely; Baler, Casiguran, Dilasag, Dinalungan, Dingalan, Dipaculao, Maria Aurora, and San Luis. The common languages spoken are Tagalog, Kapampangan and Ilocano. Its climate is Tropical rainforest, expect rainfall throughout the year, which we unexpectedly experienced when we were in Dinadiawan beach. We actually traveled back to Baler from Dipaculao on a moderate rainfall. We were soaked wet, but it was still fun. Let me start the journey.
Dinadiawan Beach, Dipaculao, Aurora Province
First stop, Dinadiawan beach! Nowadays, if not with our kids, my husband and I travel using his motorcycle (Yamaha Aerox S) which he also use for motovlogging (YouTube channel: Motor ni Juan). Travel on a motorcycle lessens the heavy traffic experience. During a long ride, we usually leave between 3am and 4am to make sure we start the day early and less exposure from the heat of the sun. We targeted 2 towns in Aurora; Dipaculao and Baler. According to Waze, our travel time will take us almost 6 hours going to Brgy. Dinadiawan, Dipaculao, Aurora Province from Bulacan.
Our route to Dinadiawan, Aurora
Why Dinadiawan? Because we wanted to swim first. We all know that Baler is one of the surfing spots in the Philippines, which suggests stronger waves. If you want a relaxing swim experience, Dinadiawan Beach is the place to be. We went on a weekday, (most of our travel days), because we always hope for less crowd to enjoy the views and experience. We had few stop over to stretch our back, gas up, and took our breakfast which made our trip 7 hours in total. After 3 hours of ride, we stopped by at the eatery which we encountered along the way, somewhere in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija; Kainan ni Mai. The distance of every eatery is far from each other, so you’ll never know where is the next one. Unless one is familiar with the location. We were starving already. To be honest, I was not happy with the food choices. We were supposed to take breakfast but the menu were for lunch already. I was on NO RICE DIET and it was hard to choose. I ended with Pork Sisig and Monay. hehe.. I was expecting something else. But because we were so hungry then, though it was a difficult decision to make, but I had to eat.
On the way to our destination, we were mesmerized by the beauty that nature presented to us. Caption these:
Along Nueva Ecija
When I chose our destination, I opted the one with an infinity swimming pool. Not all resorts in this area has a pool amenity, I just want to keep my option open. From the picture posted below, the pool looks like the beach is an extension where you can freely swim and enjoy the waves. But in reality, the pool was few meters away from the beach. The resort has hospitable and attentive staff. There were only few guests, it is the advantage of a weekday trip; there was some sort of privacy. They also offer Filipino food if you do not have time to buy outside the resort. It is a perfect location to fly the drone and capture the breath taking view. Needless to say, watch the video to be posted a little bit later. For update will post the video link here.
Sabang Beach, Baler, Aurora Province
Next destination, Sabang Beach is known for strong waves which made it a surfing venue for surf enthusiasts whether you are a beginner or a pro. Local surfers are just waiting anytime you need their assistance, with a fee of course. The fees are reasonable and worth it. Fee starts at PhP 300 and up. If you need boards only, surfing boards rental are also offered. When we arrived there, strong waves and high tide welcomed us. Honestly, I did not have the courage to go and try surfing. Boring?! I really have phobia in water even on shallow part of the beach or a pool. I enjoy being in the beach and wearing swim suits for photo op. I almost lost my pair of sandals because it was high tide. From the step of the stairs where I put them, the water unexpectedly reached the step. I just saw them floating away from me. I hurriedly run after my sandals (my own pace of hurry). I was lucky enough to recover them. In the afternoon, my husband and I played around the beach and the splash of waves and see where it will bring us. I find it really fun. I do not know if it was the “Tita of Manila” in me saying this. ;,) (wink) Given the chance, I will do it again. By the way, Happy Women’s month (March) and Women’s Day (March 8) 😉 March is also the birthday month of Juan, Fourth and Cheska, celebration awaiting soon.
Strong waves in Sabang beach
While Juan; my husband was flying the drone to get a birds eye view of Baler, a local who sells pearl accessories approached us. He identified himself as a Muro-Ami. That they harvested those pearls by themselves without any safe as oxygen or any diving paraphernalia. Impressive huh! According to Wikipedia, Muro–ami or muroami is a fishing technique employed on coral reefs in Southeast Asia. It uses an encircling net together with pounding devices. These devices usually comprise large stones fitted on ropes that are pounded into the coral reefs. Just like what we have seen in the movie Muro-Ami by the actor Cesar Montano, directed by the late Marilou Diaz-Abaya. They are also called Reef Hunters. Sad to say, he sold to me the bracelet at a higher price compared to other peddlers. I learned about it when another peddler approached us and offered the same item. My bargaining skills did not work in Baler. I cannot do anything, anymore, I was just thankful that we are blessed. Still, it was a beautiful piece of art and nature. I wear them even when we were back home. Love, love, love
Muro-ami and the Pearl bracelet
Our accommodation in Baler was sponsored, booked via Agoda. The building has several rooms enough for 2 guests with a swimming pool within the vicinity. Other rooms are bigger and can accommodate groups. Having an option on where to swim is always an advantage. There was also shared kitchen where fee is P300 (per stay? not sure). We did not really cook because food place was just around the corner. We just want to eat, swim, rest and repeat. 7-Eleven was walking distance like less than 1 km from where we stayed. We had food and drinks even in the middle of the night. And how can I forget Angels Burger which is the landmark of the block you will turn to going to the Sabang beach, Buton Street to be exact.
Baler Tourist Information Center
On the following day, we tour around Aurora, not too far from where we stayed. We were tired to go farther than what we can imagine. To help the BALER TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER with the data of their tourists, we went to their office not too far from Sabang Beach and enlist our names. The lady was very helpful in giving information about the towns of Aurora and the famous spots. They handed as a map to guide us through. Like this one below.
Baler 400 Years Monument
Walking distance from the tourist center, the Baler 400 years monument is situated. On the 400th year anniversary of Baler Township, this monument was dedicated to all the people of Baler. Jaynee; the artist of this monument designed it with 4 pillars representing 400 years, interconnected with 100 horizontal bars. The symbol of this solid monument is the inner strength and bright future of the town. The platform of the 40-foot monument is made of Vigan tiles which symbolizes Baler’s Kayumanggi race. The town gave birth to the first president of the Philippines and 2 Senate presidents. It is located few feet away from the famous BALER letter signage.
Museo de Baler
After the monument, we went to Museo de Baler with a minimal entrance fee of PhP 30 per tourist which comes with the entrance to Doña Aurora’s replica house. The Museo de Baler was built with the help of Senator Edgardo Angara. Commemorative items can be found in the Museo, even the Filipiniana dress of Dona Aurora is in a glass house for proper safe keeping. On the second floor is a gallery of latest work of art by students as written on each piece. Not sure how long they are going to stay in the gallery. Few steps away from the Museo, we found the monument of President Manuel L. Quezon.
Facade of Museo de Baler
Doña Aurora Biography
President Manuel L. Quezon
Large Portrait of Doña Aurora
Doña Aurora Filipiniana Dress
One of the Filipino Soldiers Uniform
2nd floor Art Gallery
Monument of Pres. Quezon
Baler Church (San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish)
On our way to Dona Aurora’s House, we found the Baler Church. Mass was on-going for a special event where students were the attendees. I just had a shot on the facade of the church. It looks new compared to the other churches which seem 100 years of age or so. Reason is, it was renovated in 1939. It was first constructed in 1611. It is also called the site of the “Siege of Baler”. 54 Spaniards were trapped inside. It took them 11 months to surrender without knowing that the Spanish colonization already ended when Philippine independence was achieved.
The front of the church has a path with footprints which looks like they are going away. It was believe that it represents the surrender of the Spaniards when they were under siege.
Doña Aurora Aragon-Quezon’s House
This house is just a replica of Dona Aurora Aragon-Quezon in honor of her fine cooperative efforts in social welfare to the people of Aurora Province as the first lady of President Manuel L. Quezon. The house is made of native materials such as nipa, bamboo/kawayan, and wood. Parts of the house include dining, living, kitchen with native made furniture and wares, mini library, walls with memorabilia, and garden outside.
Gerry Shan’s Place (Eat-All-You-Can)
It was lunch time and we were dead hungry. We learned that there were some eat-all-you-can for 200 each only in town. We found Gerry Shan’s Place. There we had lunch with Filipino-Chinese cuisine with lots of choices plus desserts. Drinks have separate charge and their drooling seafoods as well. Not bad for 200 per pax. Credit to the blog of HellowKimmy on Blogspot for these mouth-watering food images. We were not able to furnish photos, because what we had in mind was just to eat. It was past lunch time then. Basically, they have Filipino and Chinese fusion on the buffet table.
Balete Tree (Millennial Tree)
When we were done with lunch, next destination was the famous Balete Tree or also known as Millennial Tree. It is huge. I am just a petite lady but I felt smaller like a dwarf when I saw it in person. I tried to climb few steps up, but it is limited to 3 meters only. We also experienced being inside the tree with huge branches or stems of Balete Tree. Some pasalubong items and souvenirs can be bought at the shop near the giant tree. Entrance fee was PhP 15 pesos plus parking fee which starts at PhP 10 depends on the vehicle. You can also try to get inside this huge tree for only PhP 10 each. Watch in the video, to be updated here.
The huge 600 year old Balete Tree
Shot from inside the Balete Tree
Yellow Fin Bar and Grill
After the tour within Aurora, we had rest and enjoyed the beach again. It was night time and we wanted to have dinner in a cozy place. We first targeted Baler Surfer Grill, to our disappointment, it was closed that night. Yellow Fin Bar and Grill is one of the famous go to in Buton Street. It was so easy to find. Food choices are not limited. They have Silog options, grilled meat and seafood. Alcoholic drinks are available by the glass or in bottle.
Caute Bar and Grill
The night actually was so quiet. It was Thursday night, not yet the weekend, so party was not the ambiance yet in Baler. We walked along Buton Street and was lucky to have found Caute Bar and Grill. Cauti I think was farthest from the entrance of Buton Street. They have LIVE BAND every night. The band for the night (sorry forgot the band name) played acoustic music. The music was relaxing. We ordered drinks and finish them. It was a little off for me though because the lead vocalist was pregnant and rubs her tummy every now and then. The Baler Beach Club was open yet no live band, it was open mic night. We did not intend to listen to other guest’s videoke songs. Their place looks cozy. Maybe next time when we come back on a weekend, we can enjoy night life in Baler. Credit to the source of these images http://quedank.com/, our phone was drained in battery.
Cauti Bar and Grill
Overall, our Aurora trip was a blast! We really enjoyed the ride, the beach, the view, the food, and the hospitality of the people. All of which, we encountered during the trip. We will surely go back. Looking forward to be with our kids on our next visit.
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