May 24, 2011

Baler - Part 2 - The hidden gems

The town of Baler may be one of the smallest town I've been into and if not, it is the quietest town I've been into.  We woke up as early as 5:30 A.M. so that we could go around town and see some history and other attractions that are somewhat "underrated". 

The first thing we did was eat breakfast and we ate mostly fishes and "okoy" - it is like a burger patty but it is made of tiny shrimps.

The replica of the house of Aurora Quezon.
It was late in the morning and the host of our trip said that we have at least an hour to tour the town, as for me I've always wanted to have a tour around the town because it's where one can feel the culture of a place.

I was a disappointed with Aurora Quezon's replica house because when you entered the house, it's empty! Not even one chair that belonged to her remained. But with whatever happened to the belongings of Aurora, I bet the immediate family still has it.

The famous Catholic Church of Baler
Then just at the back of Aurora's house was the Church of Baler. It was originally built in 1611 and was later on renovated in 1939 but the church's facade remain the same. The church is best remembered during the Spanish-American war in the Philippines, it was called "The Siege of Baler" where the last standing battle hardened Spanish soldiers garrisoned inside the church for 337 days. 

Read all about the "Siege" HERE.

The Presidential car of commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon.
After we went inside the simple but historic church of Baler, we went across the street and tada! There was the town's museum, how bout that? all three historic sites in a couple of blocks. It was kind of funny when I entered the museum. I was excited to see new stuff for I really love history of just about anything!

When I entered, I laughed because I found out that the National Museum of the Philippines is touring the country with different relics and artifacts and I've seen all of it back in Manila.

The coastline of Aurora Province
After the town tour we rode in our cars for an hour of driving from the town to a religious hill which I forgot the name (I'm so sorry I didn't have notes in this trip!). We saw this beautiful beautiful landscape from above. One weird thing though about Baler is that I don't think there is a lighthouse in the coast.

While I was hiking to the top of the hill, I saw a monkey out of the cage and I tried to sound like my wildlife conservationist idol, the late Steve Irwin but I guess I failed. Anyways check it out:

Natural wave barriers at the port of Baler.
After the coast lines, we drove for another hour to bath in a waterfall famous for its chilling waters. The road there is most dirt road and to get there we had to pass by roads that offer shortcut by cutting through someone's land or backyard. Each land we cross cost less than $1. 

But after we reached there, it is as if we forgot all the beating our wallets took place! The place was so clean and if I could say in nature terms "Still a Virgin".

Here's a vid of the locals jumping from the waterfall:

The last night of our trip ended with cold bottles of local beers and laughter but we won't waste the last day for we all know there's more to be seen at the beaches of Baler. See you on the last blog series of Baler next time! :)

May 21, 2011

Baler - Part 1 - The Road to Baler

It's as if like something in a dream that happened so rapidly, I never thought that I could finally be inside the car with my family on a very rare occasion. To travel with them is like a Michael Jackson Superbowl halftime performance.

We went out early in the morning to gather at Quezon City to meet with my cousin's family, and the destination is widely unknown to most Filipinos. 

BALER, it is most remembered in history as the "Siege of Baler" where Spanish forces turned a Church into a fort to fend off Filipino revolutionary forces for almost 1 year, feeding on everything they could find, only to find out that they were the only Spanish soldiers fighting all along because the war was over.

It was a bad start for me because I was having my Loose Bowel Movement (LBM) so I had medications with me and I wasn't eating nor drinking anything because I might "explode" in the middle of our trip.

The road to Baler is mostly smooth-sailing, the roads were healthy and wide, well except when you reach Nueva Ecija area where some farmers dry their rice grains on the street, but even if they do that, it's a sight to see.

WOW PHILIPPINES! Not the usual rolling stores.

Going there from highway to highway is not boring, that is what I love about the Philippines, when I travel I can't close my eyes because I might miss something strange or different. Every city gives something about their unique culture, can't even imagine the rarity of different cultures in this small archipelago-one maritime country.

Baler is originally part of Quezon province, where the commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon once lived. He also graduated to two Dominican owned educational institution, Colegio de San Juan de Letran (Letran College, oldest college established in 1620) when he was in high school and University of Santo Tomas (oldest university established in 1611) for his college years.

This is the one way bridge going to Baler, so if you're on the other side, you just have to wait :)

Today Baler is part of the Aurora province, in honor of Quezon's wife who lived a few blocks from where Manuel was living. It is a small town in the North east corner of the country.

The sleeping town is slowly becoming a tourist destination for those who love surfing, the town was best featured in the local historic movie "BALER" where the plot was the Siege of Baler.


Going back to my LBM problem, we took short breaks at gas stations for my "Morning Glory" time, I was kind of a minor delay to them but I didn't want it. Even with the virus, it won't stop me from traveling...

"IF THERE'S TISSUE, THERE'S A WAY" - That was my motto for the trip.

Shell Gas travel guide map's description about Baler
We arrived finally after 6 hours of road watching and pit stops. The town was quiet and simple, one can clearly see the old houses preserved for generations although some appear modern.

After we ate our lunch, we headed to the rocky beaches to see how powerful the waves really are and my God how wonderful it is to see the roads so developed and the view is dumbfounding!

An amazing scene just off the street.
That's a rock beach! 
As the Sun took a deep dive into the horizon, the cold night engulfs Baler and we would wait for the Sun's return.