March 2014 – I’ve never been fond of beaches. That being said, I was not too pleased with my visit to Pres. Quezon’s hometown of Baler in the province of Aurora. Although it was my first time to see the Pacific Ocean, I was not as excited because the beach was not swimmer-friendly. The waves made it difficult to swim, and as I’m not into surfing, I didn’t enjoy the sea as much as my travel buddies did. Lucky for me, Aurora has a lot more to offer, which we discovered in our provincial tour.
First, we stopped by the Millennium Balete Tree in Maria Aurora, Aurora. I think it’s deplorable that there are people who would erect a fence around this 500-year old balete tree and charge tourists P10 just for a closer look, but that’s just my opinion. As tourists, we were allowed to climb the tree to take pictures. It’s cute actually.
What I find more interesting is that beside a tree, there was a cardboard photo of a man and a woman in native costumes with the face cut out for tourists to stick their face in. I’m not sure how accurate the photo was because Baler is one of the most Hispanized towns in the country, so I tend to doubt the accuracy of any representation of pre-colonial clothing. I really don’t know.
Next we visited the Ditumabo Falls, or what the locals simply call Mother Falls, in San Luis, Aurora. We followed a narrow stream to get to the majestic falls, which is a source of pride for the locals. Our guide said that there is a more impressive falls on the other side of the mountain, and as of March, only locals familiar with the mountains can reach the area. They will soon be opening a trail for mountaineers though.
Afterwards, we spent time admiring an unobstructed view of the Sierra Madre Mountains and Sabang Beach on top of Ermita Hill. I couldn’t stop singing Coritha’s Sierra Madre in my head while we were there.
Then we drove to the Aniao Islets,where I had a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. I didn’t see the other side of the rock formations because I refused to step on the living sea stars and tiny little fishes.
Finally, we paid a visit to Museo de Baler, in which several paintings of Sen. Angara are displayed. You know, just in case we forget who owns the province. Hihi! The facade of the building is very pretty, but the galleries are not as interesting.
Overall, Aurora is a very beautiful place, and if ever I get the chance to return, I certainly will. In my next visit, I will drop by the church and spend more time at the local hole in the walls to sample their fresh seafood.