Baler, Aurora – Feb 27-28, 2010

Baler, Aurora – Feb 27-28, 2010

This blog post might as well have been called “Baler, the comeback.” In August last year, Patrick and I attempted to make a trip to Baler… by driving in my Civic. On the way up the Sierra Madre Mountain range, I decided to abort. At the end of the trip I decided to attempt the drive again… better equipped in the right vehicle. Last December I got my Lakwatsero Mobile, a second-hand Ford Escape with the sheer intent of conquering Baler. As I told my friends, this wasn’t about being in Baler, it was about getting there. So here we go!

To make the trip interesting, I had just come back from a two week trip to the US the day before. So that meant that I was supper jetlagged! Joining me on my trip are Patrick Mineses, RD Cimafranca, and Jonathan Guevarra. I picked up everyone around 6am from Ortigas (well, Jonathan was late as usual) and we were off.

Map to Baler

So here we go again. This is one of those adventures where its about getting there. We started at 6:04am. We drove leisurely on the NLEX… then to the SCTEX and made our way to Cabanatuan City (getting a little lost along the way despite having a GPS which had a mind of its own).

The hairpin turns en route to Baler

And now… the Sierra Madre mountains… again.

Upon reaching that same dirt road that conquered me the last time… I took the Escape as fast as could (which considering the road was around 60 kph).

Roadtrip to Baler

We went uphill, we went downhill, then we went back up again. And eventually we got a river with a downed bridge. I had attempted to cross a makeshift bridge. But then decided to conquer the river.

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After around 5 hours drive across the majestic though winding roads of the Sierra Madre mountain range… we made it!!! We got to Baler around 1pm.

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Mind you, we had no hotel booked. The idea was pretty much “bahala na.” But I did print out some references for when we got to Baler. I then consulted Ivan Henares’ Travel Blog and noted his mention of a place called Bahia de Baler. So it was there where we ended up. Luckily they did have a room for four.

Bahia de Baler

It was a nice and very clean hotel. They had free WiFi… but alas, we were on the third floor.

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Above is the view from our balcony.

So we were hungry… crossed the road to the resort’s seaside restaurant…

Bahia de Baler Bar and Grill

It was a very nice little place. Good food!

Bahia de Baler

Aaah… Lechon Kawali. WIth taba and laman!


The famous Baler Bay! The Pacific Ocean!!! There were indeed a lot of surfers on the beach… locals!

After lunch… the others took a swim. I took a nap. Hey, I was tiered from diving. Anyway, the guys had to memories from the swim because Patrick’s camera became victim of Baler’s waves and was lost to the sea.

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Before sun down, we rented some bikes and decided to go around the town. Above is a statue. Behind the statue is the Museo de Baler… which of course was closed by the time we got here. I didn’t stick around, I was still sleepy (and jetlagged remember!) so I went back to the hotel.

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Chile Earthquake! Tsunami Warning!!!

Later that evening we heard on CNN that there was an earthquake in Chile. After dinner, just as we were busy Facebooking and e-mailing, the front desk calls our room. In a very calm voice, the lady on the end tells us that we were at Tsunami Warning Level 1 and just to be ready in case we needed to evacuate. I put down the phone. Thought for a moment. Then told the others.

Of all the luck. The one time that I am on a trip to the Pacific Ocean and I am told that a Tsunami might hit. Wow. As in.

We spent most of the night watching CNN and I surfed the net looking for more details. Pagasa then reported that, if ever there was one, it would hit around 2pm the next day.

Ok. I then decided. Just to be safe, lets leave after breakfast.


Catching the sunrise

I got up early to catch the sunrise. I dressed up and went to the beach to take pictures.

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Ok… so I got to the beach around 6am or so. Kinda early in my mind. Here is a scene which amazed me…

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The beach was full of people! Most were locals. Some tourists. Do you know what they were doing. They were waiting for the Tsunami!!! Haha… everyone was talking about it. It was so Sureal!!!

Nonetheless, the was still beautiful!

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After breakfast we made our way back to Manila. We left around 8am.

The alternate route

The trip back was also fascinating. At a particular fork in the road, my friends suggested that we follow this bus that was also coming from Baler. I decided to follow it and overtake it so we knew where it was passing. It was a Genesis Bus. I passed the bus and noted… it was heading for… PASAY CITY. We consulted the GPS and it recalculated an alternate route. This route was mostly paved and this is where all the traffic going to Baler passed. Hahaha! It was of course THE bus route. We probably passed around 4-5 Genesis Buses heading for Baler.

The route was actually longer. But since it was paved, it took us the same length of time. So note. There are more than one route to Baler. A scenic winding dirt road. And a longer paved bus route.

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    • hi! i read your first trip and second trip to baler. i justbfeltbhow frustrated you were when you had to back without reaching your destination. ihave longing to see baler for a long time! but we were so busy climbing mountains. this time i am planning our trip to baler! my kids love to surf! i havent tried it yet. but we are definitely going. we plan to rent a genesis bus because my group is so big! i like your pictures esp the one wherein the people were waiting for the tsunami! i could just imagine the expressions on their faces. i like the pictures of the roads too coz they gave me an idea on what to expect on the road trip. i hope our plans will push thru. thank you so much for the infos! bty, we plan to stay slso at bahia de baler! thanks again!

      • thanks for the visit to my blog. on the locals waiting for the tsunami… alam mo naman pinoy, basta may happening, lalabas mga usi… so there they were… waiting with anticipation. it was rather amusing.

        By the way please note that the route we took going there is different from the route we took going back.

  1. Yes! You really made it and via the harder route! We really are planning to go there at the end of this month but my friends seems like they want to back out after viewing some videos about the road conditions going to Baler like the river crossing, muddy roads etc. Is that a 4×2 escape and was it able to perform well negotiating the rough conditions of the road? Just want to make sure that you don’t need a 4×4 to go there. Thanks guys. Nice pictures by the way!

    • Hi Ruben. As menioned in the original post, 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.

      The first route we took has hairpin turns that a bus could not take. With the first route, a car would not survive. But a 4×4 like my Escape did well.

      • Hi! Enjoyed reading your adventure. Am going to Baler myself this weekend and I am really confused about which route to take. One route is the Canili-Pantabangan (via the town of Maria Aurora) and the other is the Bongabon-Baler route (via the town of San Luis). Which was the better route? Thanks, Joey

        • I don’t blame you for you confusion. The one that passes Pantabangan is the paved road that the busses pass. I recomend this route. It is longer, but again… it is paved. The other route is more scenic. But your car will curse you.

  2. Thanks again! I hope our road trip will push through. Be posting some pictures soon.

  3. Hi. I was happy to know that you have made it to Baler, at last. But too bad you were not able to go and see Ermita. It was an overlooking of Baler Bay. Hope you can come back to Aurora to see more of its beauty. Also, try to go to Dinadiawan, Dipaculao, Aurora. They have a beach there that has a yellowish-white sand. Goodluck on your trip!

  4. Hello,

    My friends and I are planning to go there (and stay at Bahia) this coming June 12 and we will bring 2 sedans.

    I just would like to ask – “The second route, which is mostly paved is farther north of Cabanatuan. A car (sedan) could make the trip” – if you could provide a detail on how to take this route? Maybe just a list of towns to pass by? (e.g. Cabanatuan – Talavera – Bongabon?) Any info would be much appreciated :)

    • Hi Dennis. Hmmm. As the route we took was coming back. I really didn’t knote what part we came out. The road isn’t on Google maps. All I could remember is we came out on Maharlika Highway and we went tthough San Jose and ended up in Cabanatuan. The direction I can give you is that we passed through Pantabangan. If you find signs to Pantabangan, Pantabangan Lake, or Pantabangan Dam, you are probably on the right directon. Other than that… I don’t have much more info.

      • Just did some more research and the two routes are:

        1. Baler-Bongabon Road
        2. Canili-Pantabangan Road

        I went to Powerbooks and there are two Philippine travel books that have different perspective of the two roads but since you’re the one who personally went there already recently, I will base my decision on your suggestion :)

        Super Thanks! Canili-Pantabangan it is for my Vios! :)

        • Good luck Dennis. Please do let us know how it went :)

    • Good catch. When I originally wrote the post, I accidentally placed 2009. I could have just left it as is, but I decided to fix the permalink. Since it had past, I didn’t repost it on FB anymore :)



  1. Road trip to Baler, Aurora… almost – August 17, 2009 | Lakwatsero Travel Blog - [...] We did go back and actually make it to Baler in Feb 2010 ( [...]

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