Thursday, April 1, 2010

Discover BALER For A Day

I was once asked by a colleague if I have been to Baler. ‘I was only able to watch the movie. But what’s in Baler exactly?’ I asked. ‘Why not come and see for yourself.’, he insisted. Having that motivation in mind, I decided to hit the bus to Baler from Cubao via Genesis Transit at 4:00 am one Saturday morning. The trip would usually take more than 8 hours, but thanks to SCTEX – it was shortened by one hour.

Upon entering Aurora province, the Sierra Madre Mountains welcomed me with the breathtaking vast green mountain scenery – perfect for mountain climbing and nature trekking. These rainforests are the only few of the remaining rinforests in the country and mostly of ancestral domains.

I finally reached Baler at 11:00am. Not having any clear plans in mind, I decided to go somewhere which interested my eyes. I instinctively walked towards the nearby Pasalubong Center from the bus terminal – where I was able to meet the owner herself, Baby. Surprised that I went to Baler alone with no business other than sight-seeing, cultural exposure and picture-taking, Baby thought I should meet Noli Guerrero, an artist and indigenous culture advocate, who could provide me with information about Baler’s culture and history. Baby then took me to Noli who likewise got surprised about my agenda or me having no agenda at all in coming to Baler. After a very rich discussion about Baler's history and culture, he insisted I should see some attractions but with a company. He asked one of his artist-students, Elias, to go alongside and take me in and around the town.

We toured Baler the whole afternoon on a tricycle for only P150. We went to Cemento Beach with a great view of the islets of Dimadimalangat, climbed the top of Ermita Hill, walked around the town proper visiting the adjacent historic Baler Church, Dna. Aurora Quezon’s old house, the Baler Museum, the Provincial Capitol, the Manuel L. Quezon Monument and finally, Sabang Beach – where the Aurora Surfing Cup is being held every year. I checked-in at Bay’ Inn which is located along Sabang Beach - a single aircon room costs P900 . That same evening, Noli and his company invited me for a drink at the nearby Bahia De Baler KTV Bar (the only upbeat bar in town with acoustic singers) and again, enlightened me with historical, cultural and environmental significance of Baler focusing on the preservation of indigenous culture of the Ilongot and Dumagat tribes. He also told me how he abhors the fraudulent and indirect destruction of the town’s heritage by some cold-blooded town officials.

I left Baler the following morning and took the 10:00am bus to Manila.

There are still many things I need to learn and discover about Baler. That one-day experience may be significant enough but I wanted more - enough reason why I definitely should go back there.

with Noli, Baby and Jun

Cemento Beach and Dimadimalangat Islets

Ermita Hill

Quezon Park, Museo De Baler and Manuel L. Quezon Birthplace Marker

House of Dna. Aurora A. Quezon

Bayan Ng Baler Marker

The historic Baler Church

Aurora Provincial Capitol

Sabang Beach
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