Road trip to Baler, Aurora… almost – August 17, 2009

Road trip to Baler, Aurora… almost – August 17, 2009

Since the Lakwatsero embarks on trips without set plans. Sometimes trips just don’t have happy endings. And sometimes… you never make it to the destination. Such was the road trip between my self, The Lakwatsero, and Patrick, The Bakasyunista.

To start off, we started out late leaving from Manila. I picked up Patrick from Ortigas around 8am (at his request). And with our “just-in-case” bags on hand and armed with cameras and a map (yes the paper kind), we were off to go to Baler, Aurora.


There are two possible routes to take. The shorter route would have taken us from Bulacan up to Cabanatuan City. I theorized though that the national road would have comprised a narrow road wrought with Jeepneys and Tricycles… which is usually the case. So I opted to drive up NLEX… take the SCTEX, then at the end, hang a right headed towards Cabanatuan City… and onwards to Baler passing through the Sierra Madres.

We got to Cabanatuan City at around 10am… we were doing great time. We followed the signs heading through Nueva Ecija towards Baler.

Baler Aborted

Most of the roads were, as expected a two lane road. And the roads were nice and cemented. Until we got to the Sierra Madre mountain range.

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We hit dirt road. The trip up the Sierra Madres was beautiful to say the least.

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While the road was pretty flat for the most part. I don’t think it was appropriate road for a sedan. And my poor Civic could feel every bump on the road.

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I’d say the road was semi-developed. Short of putting cement or asphalt, the roads were fairly “ok”. If I riding a horse, a dirt bike, or a 4×4. We went up the mountains, we went down the mountains. And sometimes we would encounter… a bridged.

And of course the stretch of the Sierra Madre was devoid of much civilization. There were occasional houses and what could be “towns” (if you call a town 8 houses or less). Our paper map states the distance through the Sierra Madre was around 130 km from the foot hills or so.

I got worried. I was averaging around 20 kms/hr on the dirt road. And we had no way of knowing how far off we were. Then the roads had gotten worse. We passed some bulldozers whose role in life was probably to level off the roads. After that the road became rockier. It was then that I decided we turn back. I turned the car around and with a big sigh… we headed back to Manila. Not knowing how far Baler was had we proceeded. But I wasn’t about to put my car through more anguish. It was around 12:20pm.

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Oddly… some sections of the road. Particularly on some turns and rivers were cemented.

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As is usually the case, the trip back didn’t seem as long.

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We ended up eating lunch in Cabanatuan City around 2pm. We ended up in a variant of Razon’s and feasted on Pancit and Halo Halo. We got back to Manila round 5pm.

Yeah, it was a disappointment. But with it came some learnings. Sometimes when you take the road less travelled, there is a reason the road is not travelled that much. Like maybe it isn’t paved.

I plan to eventually reach Baler. In the near future. Perhaps better armed with a pick up or 4×4. Or perhaps find an alternate route if there is one.

So that’s the story of the Road Trip to Baler. We went on the road trip. We just never got to Baler.


We did go back and actually make it to Baler in Feb 2010 (

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  1. I like this quote: “Sometimes when you take the road less travelled, there is a reason the road is not travelled that much.”

    Hope you make it to Baler next time…

  2. We are also planning to go to baler this summer and i just hope the roads are better this time. To bad you were not able to reach Baler. Better luck next time guys.

      • Congratulations! How’s the road condition this time? Is it ok for a 4×2 suv to handle?

        • Hi Ruben. Please refer to with the successful trek to Baler. We discovered that there were two routes to Baler. The second route, which is mostly paved is farther north of Cabanatuan. A car (sedan) could make the trip. This is longer in distance, but because it is paved is shorter in time. This is the bus route.

        • Thanks for the info. We hope to go to Baler at the end of this month. Your information and pictures about the road trip is definitely a big help in encouraging our friends to come with us.

  3. We just arved from there yesterday May 29. We left Manila at 430am last Monday May 27 with our reliable L300 passing through Palayan City, Bongabon then the Sierra Madre, very exciting route to pass until wreached San Luis and then Baler. On the way home we took another route from Baler passing through the town of Maria Aurora going up the Sierra Madre, Castañeda, Pantabangan where you can see the Dam and proceed to Cabanatuan.WE change route from here to pass the NLEX and then to Manila. Unforgetable experience.

    • just got back from baler yesterday we took the pntabangan road travel is easy with some portion uncemented road…better drive an SUV than KOTSE


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