February 5, 2014

Baler: The Waves are Calling

“I want to say somewhere, I've tried to be forgiving. And yet, there were times in my life, whole years, when anger got the better of me. Ugliness turned me inside out. There was a certain satisfaction in bitterness. I courted it. It was standing outside, and I invited it in.”
- Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

It takes a lot of patience and a forgiving heart to get a midnight Genesis bus seat amidst sea of passengers and surfers, especially if coming from Manila and going to Baler on a long weekend. That’s just the start. The aircon was too cold. The lights were not all dimmed. And the loud radio was on all throughout the six-hour trip, ensuring that the driver is not the only one wide awake. And I tell you, you won’t hear any Mozart or lullaby songs coming out of the radio. There are rough unpaved roads. I didn’t catch a decent sleep but I arrived in Baler in one piece, and still shivering. But these inconveniences were reduced to nothing, compared to the adventure that lies ahead. I forgive the bus ride.

Baler is famous for three things: the birthplace of President Manuel Quezon and his wife Aurora, 1898 Baler Siege, and the killer Pacific waves. The capital of Aurora Province, Baler is gifted with spectacular geographic formations, historical and natural and attractions, and waves that could swell up to nine feet high, making it one of the top surf spots in the Philippines. Because of its rugged beauty, it became a backdrop of the Francis Ford Coppola 1979 war movie “Apocalypse Now”. A historical film by Mark Meiley “Baler” was also made in 2008 about an enduring love story set during the Siege of Baler.

Despite its isolation from other provinces in Central Luzon, I find Baler very tourist-friendly. For a fee of P800-1,000, you could rent a tricycle good for three, to tour the beaches, coves, falls, and other tourist spots of Baler, and neighboring municipalities.

The town of Baler, viewed from Ermita Hill

Baler Church

Quezon Memorial Park

Museo de Baler

Aurora Aragon Quezon House

Diguisit Waterfalls

Tromba Marina sculpture in honor of the 7 families who
survived the tsunami that wiped out the town in 1735

Dimadimalangat Islet

Diguisit Beach

Lukso-lukso Islets

The lighthouse

Dicasalarin Cove, privately owned by former Senator Edgardo Angara

Dicasalarin water tower

Pag-Asa Beach

Artists Village

Suman Baler

600-year old Balete “Millennium” Tree in Maria Aurora

Ampere Beach in Dipaculao

Bahia de Baler

Baler Surfer Grill

Sabang Beach

I hope I could stay in Baler longer. There are yet so many places to explore, more delicious suman to eat, and a surfing lesson to take.

I pray that when I come back, Baler still stays the same. Roaring yet peaceful and stunningly beautiful.

And I wish I could simply tell you this and that you would believe me like a child, that emotions are much like waves, we can’t stop them from coming, but we can choose which one to surf.
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