Baler, Aurora Province: Part 1

My friend Belle who is starting to get the hang of surfing invited me to travel to Baler, Aurora. We were supposed to leave the weekend of Nov. 1 but it did not pushed through so we rescheduled it the next weekend. Soon, Gretz came on board to join us on the trip. I have traveled with her to Caramoan way back in 2008. Yolanda, a facebook friend also joined us. It was my first time to meet her in person at the Genesis Bus Terminal in Cubao, on the eve of our departure. Belle, Gretz and Yolanda all met each other for the first time.

Lakbay Norte
Traveling it seems is also a great way to meet new friends. I have difficulty forming friendships on the fly - at schools, office, neighborhoods but when it comes to traveling I get more comfortable and at ease with forming close personal relationship with others who like myself, have an itchy feet and has a place for both the madness and ecstasy of being on the road in their own selves.

After a couple of hours delay, the bus finally left Cubao around 2:30 AM early Saturday morning. We slept most of the way waking up in random stops before finally waking up for good when the sun made its appearance. I enjoyed the view from the bus window as I could see the Sierra Madre mountains, we passed narrow zigzag roads, sleepy towns, rivers and a lake that can be seen on the left side of the bus window while on the opposite side you'll see a deep ravine.

We arrived at Baler around 10:00 AM and took time to roam around the town after getting a quick breakfast.  At first I really thought we're heading to Baler, Quezon province. I SMS a few friends telling "I'm off to Quezon Province". Then I later found out that "Baler" is a part of Aurora Province. It was formerly part of Quezon province but in 1979 a legislation was passed to name it as "Aurora" in honor of President Manuel L. Quezon's wife Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon who was also born in Baler.

Baler's most famous son is none other than the first President of the Philippine Republic, Manuel L. Quezon, making Baler a very historic municipality. Aside from being the birthplace of the Quezon couple, Baler was also the site of the last Spanish Garrison in the country.

The Siege of Baler was a year long siege between Filipino revolutionaries allied then with the Americans and the last remaining bastion of Spanish forces holed up in the church of Baler. A detailed historical account can be seen in clear visual and text presentation at the Museo de Baler.

Inside the museum there are sections honoring President Manuel L. Quezon with various framed newspaper clippings, photographs and other historical facts displayed for immersion into one's historical knowledge.

Aside from being a popular surfing destination for both surfer fanatics and wannabe surfers like myself, Baler is also known for being a historical place. Birthplace of the founder of the Philippine republic, a beloved first lady and the Siege of Baler - I'm not sure though if the Jericho Rosales - Anne Curtis movie "Baler" was based on those events.

The people just like in any other part of the Philippines are very friendly. It's a rustic seaside town with an edge of romanticism, adventure, sleepy at first glance but very lively when immersed on deeply. Places like Baler makes me wonder of someday setting up a small house in such Baler-like place. Quiet, peaceful and hearing only the chattering sounds of friends and the rampaging waves that has many falling gripped into its allure enough for them to make a long 7 hour journey just to experience (or in my case - a continuous process of trying to learn) surfing.

We stayed at "Bahia de Baler" where we chose a relatively affordable room for 4 people (P1500 / 4) for the night. Surf boards are rented by hour for 200.00 PHP with an instructor its 300.00 PHP.

I'm glad that the road has again led me to a place like Baler one supposedly boring weekend that turned into something awesome. Now that I'm back in my full time job in an office with the view of Makati - I am not complaining but there's something pulling me out of this 'corporate' world and I hope someday I could make it longer than just a long weekend, until then I can't wait to make another trip even for just a couple of days.

Next day, we went SURFING