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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Spontaneous Hey Ho Baler Weekend


When I was a kid a spontaneous trip to the beach means going to Matabungkay or Punta Baluarte in Batangas, when I reached puberty it became Puerto Galera until it became Pundaquit, Zambales and more recently Baler became a popular endpoint for that spur of the moment "are you bored? let's go to the beach" kind of sprees. I've almost next to nothing memories of Punta Baluarte anymore and images of a still un-crowded and resort-free Talipanan beach in Puerto Galera remains in my head, same with Pundaquit in Zambales when my older brother first took me there back in high school, I can still vividly remember its long stretch of white sands with only a few huts scattering far out from each other. Places have a way of converting itself, until you realize the one in your head is more preferable than the present state.

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The jury is still out with Baler however, since the last time I've been here in 2010, the presences of new establishments are more conspicuous now than during that time. I can't pass culpability to anyone yet, as Baler has become a favorite surfing spot for board junkies and water sports fanatics alike. It has a laid back setting made idyllic by its long coastline hemmed in by the Sierra Madre mountains is nothing but stunning.

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It was during a random FB chat that Sharlyn and I decided to go to Baler. I've traveled with her in the past before, at Calaguas, Palaui Island and Bolinao, Pangasinan and she has passed (barely) all trials for the 'travel buddy challenges' I had her go through. I first met her at our office building when I was still working at AskMeNow.com in Makati and she was still with Eastern Telecoms. I would bump into her at the elevator and would marvel at her long smooth legs left bared by her short office skirt. 

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We ended up becoming bus-mates going from Makati to Taft Avenue where we both take the MRT ride. Oh, I remember having kicked out of her 'friendzone' for quite some time until we reconnected back and became travel buddies in 2010. It was a bit complicated alright, but Sharlyn is a wonderful girl, if she quit acting like a funny Ruffa Mae Quinto and take me seriously, I might take a crack at escaping the 'friendzone' border and scamper into more-than-friends-territory. Seriously, she's one of the few people I would gladly take on a backpacking boot camp as evidenced by our long road Cagayan - Ilocos roadtrip with Lauren before. So when we took the 2 or almost 3 AM bus from Cubao to Baler, Aurora with nada a sleep, I know I won't hear complaints from her. During the bus trip we just dozed off and didn't even noticed that we were gone that long when we arrived at our destination at around 10 am. 

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We stayed on this small house converted into a resort whose name I already have forgotten. It was located beside this bigger resort whose name I also can't recall. Anyway, the waves were a bit abnormal coming from all direction when we arrived there, that even advanced surfers weren't keen on riding their boards that day, except for a few local hardcore skilled surfers who needled through the waves as if its the easiest thing in the world to do.

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It was alright too since I'm not really looking forward for indulging in water activities that day. I didn't even go to the waters, Sharlyn and I just spent the morning drinking beers while we count the waves and imagines having the balance and skills to ride the waves. During my last visit to Baler I wasn't able to see Ditumabo falls, so by afternoon we took an hour hike going there and it was there that I decided to take a dip in the cold waters. 

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It was on to more drinking after that as we sat stretching our legs at this cool bench in the fancy resort next to ours and stared at the pitch black skies, illuminated by a few stars visible that night, you could see patterns forming in the sky.  Skipping the story to next morning, while walking along the beach we bumped into Lois of We Are Sole Sisters and she told me she was in Baler for a couple of months perfecting her surfing skills while helping with the management of a resort called Secret Spot. Ever since I became a part of this cool travel community called 'Pinoy Travel Bloggers' I would always cross path with someone from there anywhere I travel here in the Philippines.
  
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Instead of spending the weekend at home surfing channels, I was able to go to a beach, drink beer while the sound of waves echoes in the background and enjoy the company of a crazy woman. I 'm looking forward that next time, I would be able to paddle a board, catch some swell and avoid falling from the surfboard for some satisfying long rides.

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