Discovering Baler: Going Around Town

Discovering Baler from Ivan Jose on Vimeo.

To see the most popular sights in Baler, you only need a day or two depending on where you are staying, the places you would want to visit and on how long you would stay in one location. The best way to go around town is via tricycle. The standard tricycle rate for a day of roaming is P800. We were very fortunate to have met a driver who was very professional and who was conversant with the different tourist spots in Baler. He is Kuya Boyet Gomez and his number is 09381127335. 

A view from inside our service, Kuya Boyet’s tricycle

Here is a rundown of the must-see places in Baler:

  1. Ermita Hill

Located in Barangay Zabali, Ermita Hill is around five kilometers from the town proper of Baler. To reach the top of the hill, we had to pass by a steep slope. When we got to the top, we were greeted by the breathtaking sight of the Pacific Ocean. Apart from the expansive view of the Pacific, however, there weren’t really much to see on top.

On the way to Ermita Hill
Looking over Diguisit Bay from Ermita Hill
The Pacific Ocean
The safehouse, to be used as shelter should there be a tsunami
Stairs to the shelter
In full bloom
More flowers
Activity area in Ermita Hill
The town’s name rendered using bottle caps
Bottle caps
A panoramic shot of Ermita Hill

At the foot of the hill, there were sculptures depicting how the people of Baler fled the great tsunami that ravaged the town in the 1700s.  

At the foot of Ermita Hill
For the more adventurous, there is a stairway going up to Ermita Hill
Sculptures depicting how the people of Baler fled the tsunami

Balete Tree

2. Diguisit Bay and Rock Formations

From Ermita hill, our guide brought us southward to Diguisit Bay. We stopped by the roadside to have bird’s eye view of the bay.   From where we were standing, we had a good view of Dimadimalangat and Aniao Islets, which was a cluster of rock formations from afar. These group of small islands are collectively called Diguisit Rock Formations.

Diguisit Bay and a bird’s eye view of the Diguisit Rock Formations
A majestic view of the Pacific Ocean
A steep fall awaits from where we were standing but the view was indeed spectacular
Looking at the deep aquamarine sea

Afterwards, we drove further down to Amco Beach Resort to see the islets up close. Amco Beach resort charges a minimal entrance fee of Php20 per person.

The resort is a quaint strip of property standing on cream-colored sand with a generous sprinkling of pebbles and crushed shells. It also offers accommodation for tourists.

At the entrance of Amco Beach Resort, we were greeted by a mini bus converted to a store

A good way to recycle an old vehicle 

A piece of driftwood in the middle of the beach

The rock formations were very near the shore and it was low tide so were able to go near. The rocks were very sharp and can be slippery so one has to be extra careful when having your photos taken.

 

Between two huge rock formations

Dimadimalangat Islets 

These are rocky formations jutting out of the sea and shaped by the pounding Pacific Ocean waves.

One of the islets
Close up of the rock formation
Looking like the ruins of an ancient pyramid
Dimadimalangat Islets
Panoramic shot of Dimadimalangat Islets
The Dimadimalangat Islets behind us
Another shot with the islets
Another one of the Dimadimalangat Islets
One of the smaller islets
Taken from another angle

Aniao Islets

These are small islands near the Dimadimalangat Islets. These islands are characterized by lush shrubberies growing on top.

Aniao Islets
We would have wanted to approach the Aniao Islets but a boat is needed to do that

Watching the waves

We spent a few more minutes at Amco Beach Resort to get dramatic shots of a heart-stopping wave. Here are the results:

Waiting for a big one
Here’s one
And another one
A pipeline
Heart-pounding wave
Another pipeline

Surf’s up!

3. Hanging bridge 

After our visit to Diguisit Bay, we drove back to Zabali road and made a right turn when we reached the end of the highway. We passed through a rough road with thick foliage by the roadside until we reached a clearing with a few houses. There, we saw the hanging bridge. It was not really a tourist destination per se but it provides a nice view of the Sabang River emptying to the Pacific Ocean. Our driver Kuya Boyet told us that it connects the two Barangays of Tibang and Sabang.

On the way to the hanging bridge
The hanging bridge as seen from below
Sabang River
Not for those who fear heights
It may look easy at first but it can look intimidating when you are actually on the bridge
One more shot
Another shot from below
Nipa palm, our first time to actually see the plant. The nipa is the only palm species adapted to the mangrove environment
Final shot of the Hanging Bridge of Baler

 

  1. Aurora Aragon House

Our next stop was the replica of the ancestral house and birthplace of former first lady Aurora Aragon-Quezon. She was a well-loved humanitarian and served as the first chairman of Philippine Red Cross. Mrs. Quezon was assassinated together with her daughter five years after the death of President Manuel L. Quezon while they were on their way to the inauguration of a hospital. The province of Aurora was named after Mrs. Quezon.

The house retained the details of the original one, as well as the old furniture and utensils. It had a library that also served as a gallery of antique photos.

The Aragon House
At the staircase
The balcony
The front window
The living room
At the living room
Antique iron

The dining area

Clay pot and stove
From the back entrance of the Aragon House
More clay pots

Old sewing machine

Old sewing machine in close-up

A clay pot in close-up

Lamp inside the library

Old books

Antique lamp

Volumes of old books

The Presidential card behind us

President Manuel L. Quezon’s car

A short description about Pres. Quezon’s car

5. Baler Church

Just across the Aurora Aragon house is the Baler Church, the site of the Siege of Baler. It was a turning point in the history of Baler when Filipinos rose against Spanish colonizers. In the end, the Filipino troop emerged victorious.

Baler Church (San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish)

Entrance to the Church

Marker providing a brief account about the Siege of Baler

The aisle

The altar

Baskets

Collection baskets

A statue of the Virgin Mary

Melted candles

View from inside the Church

Foot steps outside the Church

6. Museo de Baler 

The Museo de Baler provides an account of Baler’s rich history as well as artworks by local artists. Entrance fee is a minimal Php60 per head.

Baler town marker

Bronze statue of President Manuel L. Quezon on the exact area where he was born

Museo de Baler facade adorned by intricate artworks

The colorful history of Baler

A taxidermied Philippine Eagle

A wall about lost galleons 

Potteries recovered from the galleons

Various paintings and photographs

A painting depicting the Christianization of the natives

  1. Balete Park

We drove to the nearby town of San Luis to see another attraction — a 600 year old Balete Tree standing proudly in the middle of the park. Before proceeding to have your photos taken, you have to pay a minimal entrance fee of Php10 per head.

There are personnel inside the park who can assist you with your photographs. They are very well-versed when it comes to using the Panorama setting of a smartphone or camera.

The Balete Park marker

The centuries-old Balete (Banyan) Tree

Before entering the hollow trunk of the tree

Cave-like entrance to the tree

Inside the tree

Still inside

Outside once again. The Balete Tree is gigantic!

Panoramic camera “trick” courtesy of the park personnel

8.   Ditumabo Falls aka Mother Falls

Our last stop was Ditumabo Falls, also known as Mother Falls, in the town of San Luis. Normally, tricycles and cars are allowed until the beginning of the trail to the falls. However, during our visit, the road was under construction so it was passable only by foot. Thus, we had to add an extra 30 minute trek to the actual 45 minute hike to the falls. At the start of the trail, do check out the small hydroelectric power plant which supplies electricity in Aurora.

We had to pass by large boulders, small steams and slippery rocks on our way to the falls. All the while, we had to tread alongside an aqueduct that channels water from Ditumabo Falls to the hydroelectric power plant. Do keep your eyes also on the small falls that you will pass by before reaching the Mother Falls.

When we finally reached the Mother Falls, we were greeted by a column of raging water of about 50 meters high. The pond which catches the water from the falls was clear and very cold. We initially wanted to take a dip to cool us down from the long trek but the water was as cold as ice. Instead, we waded in the pool until we felt energized for the long journey back.

Marker at the entrance of the trail leading to the Ditumabo Falls

The hydro-electric power plant powered by water from Ditumabo Falls

Aqueduct transporting water from the falls to the power plant

Cool, clear mountain water

The smaller falls that you would pass by on the way to the Mother Falls

Moments before we reached Ditumabo Falls

The majestic Ditumabo Falls also known as Mother Falls

Crystal clear water

The water was too cold to swim in

We were informed by Kuya Boyet that there were such other beautiful falls in Aurora, particularly in Casiguran town. These are still not accessible to tourists though because of lack of a good trail.

One must-see sight in Baler, the Dicasalarin Cove, was unfortunately closed to tourists that time because of the damage and litter caused by the recent Typhoon Kabayan.

Tired from our day full of activities, we headed back to Casitas to rest, freshen up and get ready for dinner.

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