These islets are a Baler trademarkAfter researching on the internet and asking several friends where they wanted to go, we ended up in Baler in the province of Aurora.
From our office in Pasig, we headed to Quezon City. We were picked up by our rental van at 9:30 p.m. at the SM North EDSA Annex, got on EDSA and ate dinner at the Shell Oasis gas station on NLEX.
We arrived at our temporary residence, AMCO Beach Resort, at 4 a.m. We freshened up and started searching for an available joint to have breakfast.
Near the town hall, we saw the Baler 400 Years monument dedicated to the people of Baler. Our next stop was the Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon House on Rizal St. cor. San Luis St. A few steps away was the Quezon Memorial Park, a quiet park developed in honor and in memory of Pres. Manuel L. Quezon.
Museo de Baler opens at 8 a.m., so we visited the Baler public market in the meantime and returned later to check out the artifacts.
We ate lunch at the Hungry Surfer along the beach and headed back to the resort to finally check in and prepare for the second half of this day’s adventure.
By 2 p.m., we were at the PAGASA Baler Radar Station 178.2 meters above sea level.
Our next stop was the Aniao Islets. With two of them standing side by side like twins battling the mighty waves of the Philippine Sea, this is one of the iconic locations in Baler. A great spot for nature photography buffs!
Already covered with wooden slabs, one can nonetheless glimpse an ancient escape tunnel used by the people of Baler in the olden days to escape raiding Moros.
A watchtower at the back of the tunnel is connected to Santa Isabel Church. The tunnel leads up to Ermita Hill where the chapel now stands.
Trudging 110 steps to the top, you will see the Pacific Ocean from a view deck. Also visible is the exit point of the tunnel as well as the Dicasalarin Bay from another view deck nearby.
Feeling a bit exhausted from all the walking, we went to La Cez Food House and also took photos near an old lighthouse at the Sabang Beach area.
Waking up at 4 a.m. the next day, I got ready to attend the 6 a.m. mass at Baler Church.
Most of the gang later went straight to the beach to experience what Baler really offers—surfing!
The group contracted instructors from Panatag Surf School to teach them this most famous activity in Baler.
After that unforgettable undertaking, we went back to AMCO to freshen up and to check out.
Next on our itinerary was Ditumabo Falls, the largest waterfall in Aurora.
We arrived at the jump-off site at past 2 p.m. We had the option to trek to the site on our own, which would take around two hours, or avail of a tricycle to take us nearer to our target, followed by a 30-minute trek.
The hardest part of the trail was the large water crossing. The tricycle drivers, our guides, greatly assisted us during this part.
In a few minutes, lo and behold, right before our very eyes was the spectacular view of the Ditumabo Falls. It was majestic indeed!
We returned to the parking lot and sped off to Balete Park in Quirino, Aurora.
The park has a 600-year-old balete tree that was designated as the official “Millennium Tree” of the Philippines. It would take 60 grown men holding one another at arm’s length to encircle its gigantic trunk.
The tree has grown aboveground roots, such that “caves” have formed under parts of the trunk.
After taking several shots, we said good-bye to the province of Aurora.
Yes, Baler is really a wonderful place to visit, especially for water activity enthusiasts and nature lovers and photographers. The trip from Manila is definitely worth it. (Excerpted from http://larga-bista.blogspot.com) (Story/Photos by: Gerbs de Castro)
Man vs. ‘Millennium Tree’!