Travel Guide : Baler, Aurora

FACTS ABOUT BALER
  • Baler is a municipality and the capital of Aurora province
  • the home town of Manuel L. Quezon
  • Its original name was Kinagunasan
  • Known as a surfing destination specilally during surfing season from September to February. Waves can reach up to nine feet high.
Origin of the name “Baler”
There are different theories about the origin of the name Baler.
  1. Fron the local legend, it came come “Balid” the name of a wise powerful Lakan or chieftain who lived in the village in the area.
  2. From the dialect spoken by nomadic people of the area. “Baled,” a word in the latter’s language, meant waves.
  3. Some people said that it was from a women’s name, Valeriana. Other says it was from a missionary named Fray Pedro Valeriano.
  4. The last version was that Baler came from the word “Balod” which is the name of a large mountain dove which abounded in the area.
HOW TO GET TO BALER
Direct Bus to BalerGenesis Transport Bus provides the only direct route to Baler from Metro Manila. They have 5 to 6 trips daily form Manila to Baler. Daily trips starts from 3:00am to 7:30am. Bus fare is around 550.00 pesos.
Genesis Transport
G/F & 2/F Genesis Transport Building, 704 EDSA cor New York St., Cubao Quezon City
Phone : (02)332.8034 / (02)421.1425 Email : genesistransportinc@gmail.com
They also have luxury trips via Joy Bus (also owned by Genesis Transport) . Travel time is five hours. Bus fare is around 750.00 pesos.
Bus via CabanatuanIf your schedule will not permit you for a direct route, you can opt to take bus going to Cabanatuan City. When you get to Cabanatuan Central Terminal there are Vans waiting going to Baler. There are a lot of buses going to Cabanatuan City. Bus fare is 185 pesos fro aircon buses. Van fare is 220 pesos. Three to four hours travel time going to Cabanatuan then another three hours going to Baler.
via Private TransportationFrom Manila, enter the North Expressway at Balintawak and exit at Sta. Rita Bulacan. From there, follow the highway leading to Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija. From Cabanatuan City Proper, follow signs leading to Bongabon until you come to a fork, where you see a sign “to Baler” headed right. Turn right and you will reach the foot of the Baler-Bongabon highway which eventually runs right into Aurora National Memorial Park. Beware of wild zigzagging roads, fast trucks and landslides during rainy season. After approximately 150 kilometers, you will see the Aurora Welcome Arch. Proceed until you reach the town of San Luis. Stay on the highway until you see the sign going to Baler, and you will be in its town proper within minutes.
To go back from Baler to Manila you can take the buses directly going to cubao. But during the day your option is to take van going to Cabanatuan City and then bus going to Cubao.
HOW TO GET AROUND BALER?
The usual way around Baler is via Tricycle. From the central terminal going to Sabang beach cost 15 pesos per person. If you came with private transportation you can also bring your own bike and bike around the area. You also walk. If you want to go to a tour you can hire a tricycle. 500 pesos for half day tour and 800 pesos for whole day.
If you will be visiting Baler, Aurora Province and need someone to Tour you around please don’t hesitate to contact ZOREN VILLANOS of BACTTODA no 0706. His contact number is 09108085109. This young man can give you a tour around Baler and it’s tourist attraction. You can also asked him where you can stay if your in a budget and food establishment where you can eat which are very affordable. This man is very nice, polite and very accommodating.
WHERE TO STAY?
There are a lot of transient houses around Baler. You can do online search if you wish to do reservations (specially during pick season). For regular days including weekdays you can easily find transient houses beside or near Sabang beach. You can asked asked Zoren for an affordable place to stay and he can bring you there and you can choose the type of rooms that you want.
If you are not planning to spend you entire stay in the transient house you can visit SUNRISE TRANSIENT. You can contact Ate Hannah/Anna at 09482665540. Please note this is just a basic aircon room with CR. Has 2 queen size bed good for 4 people but very spacious. Nothing special I should say. Just a good place to sleep after a long tiring day.
You can get a non aircon room for 800 pesos good for 4 person, Aircon rooms start at 1200 pesos also good for 4 person. There are also other luxury resort in baler such as Costa Pacifica.
WHAT TO DO IS BALER?
Learn to Surf at Sabang Beach
What’s the sense of going to Baler, specially if it is your first time without surfing. Surfing typically cost 500 pesos (200 for the surf board rent and 300 for the instructor) good for an hour.
Go for a Tour
Whole day tour cost 800 pesos and 500 pesos for Half day. The tour typically includes the following :
Millennium Tree
It is a Balete Tree, which is more than 600 year old. It stand 65 meters or more than 200 ft tall. has a crown diameter of 60m. It needs 50 people standing side-by-side and hand-in-hand to circle the tree. Entrance fee is 15 pesos.
Ditumabo Waterfalls
Experience the clean and crystal clear water of Ditumabo Waterfalls also known as Mother Falls. The tour only includes the ride going to the entrance. Since Ditumabo waterfalls is located from another town you will be required to get a tour guide. 200 pesos for every tour guide and it’s good for 10 person. Entrance fee is 30 pesos.

Diguisit Beach and Aniao Islets
This is were you can find stunning rock formations. Good for photo ops. Just be cautious as you hop through the rocks because they are slippery. On the left side you can find the Aniao Islets.

Diguisit waterfalls
Along your way to Diguisit Beach you can stop over at the Diguisit waterfalls. It is literally beside the road. In just less than 5 mins hike you can take photos of the falls.

Ermita Hill
As per the story, a great storm came and a huge wave called “tromba marina” washed out the old settlement in Baler, Aurora. The old town location was in Barrio Sabang. It was believed that the known survivors were the Angaras, Bijasas, Bitongs, Lumasacs, Carrascos, and Pobletes who swam (take note of the word ‘swam’) in the nearby Ermita Hill. The families who survived the disaster were said to have climbed up the hill for safety. You can find a chapel, view decks, gazebos, a large picnic area, and restrooms in Ermita Hill.
There is nothing much to see here except to the nice overlooking view of Sabang Beach and Baler. Ermita Hill is open to visitors from 6AM to 7PM. Entrace fee is 15 pesos.

Museo de Baler
First thing that you will notice in Museo de Baler is the building unique facade. This museum is faily new so do not expect too much. The first floor contains dew artifacts while the second floor displays mostly nice paintings.

Dona Aurora Quezon House
Few block away you will find the Dona Aurora Quezon House. Dona Aurora Quezon is the wife of the late Manuel Quezon and the second first lady of the Philippines. The Province of Aurora was name after her. Another familiar place that was named after her is the Aurora Boulevard in Quezon City.
Whats is the house? This is obviously not the original structure of the house. This is just a replica of the original house. It is located at corner of San Luis & Rizal St. It is a two story house. It has a in-house library. The second floor had the portrait of the Commonwealth’s First Couple. There are few old items such as cooking pots, old clothes iron (the one that uses charcoal. I remember I used to that kind of the iron during my younger years. That’s what I’ve used the first time I learned to iron my own clothes. ) and old sewing machine.
Entrance fee is 30 pesos. Make sure to keep your receipt upon payment so you no longer have to pay again.
Hanging Bridge
Experience the Hanging Bridge in Brgy Zabali!

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Travel Guide : Sagada, Mountain Provice



FACTS ABOUT SAGADA

  1. Sagada is located in Mountain Province and part of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
  2. Sagada has two climates, wet and dry season. Wet season is from November to February while dry season is from March to May. It is coldest during February, when the average temperature drops as low as 4 degrees Celsius.
  3. People of Sagada are Igorotos who speaks their local dialects called Kankana-ey. However most residents are also fluent in filifino (tagalog) and english.
  4. Christianity has long been established in Sagada.
  5. Sagada has total of 19 barangays : Aguid, Ambasing, Angkileng, Antadao, Balugan, Bangaan, Dagdag (Poblacion), Demang (Poblacion), Fidelisan, Kilong, Madongo, Patay (Poblacion), Pide, Nacagang, Suyo, Taccong, Tanulong, Tetepan Norte, and Tetepan Sur
HOW TO GET AROUND?

Walk or bike. With the smallest land area of 8,337 hectares from the Mountain Province plus blessed with a cool climate and lush pine forests, walking is a MUST to make the most of the Sagada experience. If you came thruohg private transport, you can also bring your own bike.

WHERE TO STAY?

Inns and transient home can easily be found around the area. Room rates is 150 to 300 pesos per person.

WHERE TO EAT?

There are a lot of small restaurants around the area where you can eat at a very affordable price. People of Sagada don’t serve frozen food or don’t store supplies like in other cities. This is the reason why often time certain dishes from there menu are not available.
Tip : Don’t wait yourself to get hungry before ordering or going to the restaurants since food are made to order. It is advisable to order your food three to four hours before you dine in the restaurants.

Salt and Pepper
They offer a variety of dishes but they are limited specially when there are too many customers. The ambiance will make you feel home. Food is great and very affordable. They also serve brewed coffee and I just love it!
Another plus is that they accept credit and debit cards!

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Sagada Lemon Pie House
They have limited dishes but they are famous with their Lemon Pies. Layered with sour lemon paste as the base, and is topped by a soft meringue icing. They also have egg pie, apple pie and blueberry pie if your into sweets.

WHAT TO DO?

There are a lot of IG worthy sceneries in Sagada but if you think that taking photos is the only thing that you can do around with awesome place, then you are absolutely wrong. Here are some place that you can visit and activities that you can do.

  • Sagada’s Church of St. Mary the Virgin.Sagada is the only predominantly Episcopalian christian city/municipality in the country. The American missionaries established an Episcopalian parish in the very early 1900s called the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. It was originally built under the direction of Rev. John Staunton year 1904, under the American regime and became a parish year 1962. This structrure have survived the World War 2 and was just repaired.

  • Kiltepan Tower/Viewpoint. When you reached the top of the hill you will be amazed with the spectacular scenery and endless mountain panorama. You can also find trhe view of the breathtaking rice terraces. This is also a perfect place to witness the glorous sunrise. As the dawn break the sky will be filled with different hues of the sky. You can see the deep blue sky slowly brightens and turned to bright yellow.
  • Echo Valley and the Hanging Coffins. This is a popular place where you can find the hanging coffins from the limestone cliffs. You will pass through the municipal cemetery before you can see the view of hanging coffins. A short trek is required to get deep  down the valley. The trek is short but it wasn’t easy be extra cautious with your steps.
  • Chase Water Falls. Pongas (Twin Waterfalls). Treking in a narrow trail for 2-3 hours  is required to get to the top of the mountain where you can find the amazing view of the twin falls. Other falls that you can visit are Bomod-ok Falls and Bokong Falls .
  • Spelunking/Caving. Your Trip to Sagada will never be complete without trying their extreme activities, especially Cave Connection. This is spelunking both the Sumaguing and Lumiang Caves for roughly 4-5 hours. The cave connection starts in Lumiang Cave where you can find the wooded coffins in the entrance of the cave. You will then exit at Sumaging Cave where you can find amazing rock formations.Sumaguing is bigger and longer than Lumiang. It is very dark inside Sumaguing cave. It is avisable that you bring your own flash light.

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Here is a list of other must-see places in Sagada :

  • Visit Ganduyan Museum. Packed with precious artifacts and antiques from the Cordillera region of the Philippines. Antique basketry, weapons, farm tools, beads, jars, wooden items and textiles can be seen here. Each display offers an insight into the rich culture of the Cordillera Igorots.
  • Lake Danom – has a small pool where you can watch the sunset
  • Latang Underground River – it is near Matangkib cave
  • Mt. Amapacao – tallest mountain in Sagada
  • Mt. Polis – offers a view of forest and villages
  • Sagada Weaving Shop – sells woven bags, wallets, hats etc.
How to get to Sagada?
Check out my previous post, Travel Guide : How to get to Sagada?

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Travel Guide : How to get to Sagada?

HOW TO COMMUTE GOING TO SAGADA
A. Manila – Sagada

Daily trips are availble at CODA LINES Corporation. Bus leaves Manila by 9:00 am going to Sagada. While from Sagada bus leaves by 2:00 pm going to Manila.
CODA LINES Corporation
Location : HM Transport Inc. Monte de Piedad, corner Maryland street, Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila
Contact number : 0927 559 2197 
Email : codalinescorp@gmail.com
B. Manila – Baguio – Sagada

1. From Manila take a bus going to Baguio. Large liners, like Victory Liner and Genesis Bus have buses that leave every hour and are open 24/7.
2. From Baguio take a local bus going to Bontoc, the capital of Mountain province.
3. Take a jeepney from Bontoc to Sagada.
C. Manila – Banaue – Sagada

OHAYAMI TRANS

Location : Cor. Fajardo St., Lacson Ave, Sampaloc, Manila
Mobile : 0927-649-3055 ; 0917-506-0817 
Telephone : (02) 516-0501 
Book online!

1. Take a bus going to Banaue.

2. Take a van from Banaue going to Sagada or Bontoc. The passenger vans are usually parked at the jeep terminal near the Banaue tourism office. These vans has a quick stop over in view point Banaue where you can take some photos of the famous Banue Rice Terracess.
Total travel time may take upto 12 hours.
HOW TO GO TO SAGADA VIA PRIVATE TRANSPORT?
Drive along NLEX, passing by provinces of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, and finally, Mt. Province.
Get to know more about Sagada from my other post.
Travel Guide : Sagada, Mountain Provice
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Meeting the Sister Islands: Hermana Menor and Hermana Mayor

Zambales is popular with each beaches. However I am sure that a lot of people like me wants to enjoy the serenity of place far from the crowd without traveling too far.

Here is another place where you can enjoy your me time or even with your friends. It’s called Hermana Menor and Hermana Mayor. This sister islands literally mean Younger and Elder sister. They are not as famous as Subic, Anawangin, Nagsasa, Capones, Magalawa, and Potipot. However you will surely enjoy its raw beauty and crystal clear water.

Though Live more Adventures and Tours I was able to visit the smaller island called Hermana Menor. It is also called Makatira Island by the locals.It is a 30 mins boat ride from the port.

When we landed, “Wow!” was the very first word that came out of my out. It has a long creamy white shore surrounded by crystal clear water.  For those who love sand bars, you will surely enjoy it’s long creamy sand bar.

We were not able to visit the bigger island called Hermana Mayor because it is now privately owned by the Toda family.

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Photo by Chi_Aguanta

Travel Guide : How to commute going to Hermana Menor and Hermana Mayor Island Zambales

  1. Take a Victory Liner bus bound for Sta Cruz Zambales. Fare is from P450-490 and travel time is from 5-6 hours. Tell the driver  drop you off at the Petron Station in Brgy. Lipay, Sta. Cruz. Terminal is located in Sampaloc, Caloocan and Pasay.  Note that there’s no direct Sta. Cruz bound bus in Cubao terminal. (Check out their trip schedules)
  2.  From Brgy Lipa’s Petron station, ride a tricycle going to the port. Fare is PhP 10 per person and the ride will take 3-5 minutes.
  3.  From the port, rent a boat to take you to Hermana Menor and/or Hermana Mayor. Travel time is from  30-40 minutes.  Boat fee is from PhP 1,300-1,500 (two way) with a maximum capacity of  5-6 pax.
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Photo by Chi_Aguanta
Notes :
  • There’s a mini-market just across the gas station. You can buy fish, meat, vegetables and fruits that you can cook in the island just in case you did not bring cooked food.
  • Make sure to bring your drinking water.
  • Water is avalable but for rinsing only. 
  • Hemana Menor entrance fee is Php 100.00 per head
  • Four picnic cottages. You can rent a cottage good for 15-20 persons for PhP 1000. Three cottages good for 8-10 persons can be rented for PhP 500 each cottage. There’s also a Victorian-inspired dining set available.
  • Separate basic rest rooms for men and women is available
  • No store in the island so make sure to bring your basic needs before heading to the island.
  • Camping overnight is not allowed.
  • Leave No Trace Princile