Philippine Love: Colors of Baler

10:26 AM

It was afternoon, I just agreed to work for my alma mater because no company wants to hire me at that point. I looked at the academic calendar and saw two words that excited me: Baler, Aurora. Then my new boss suddenly said, "So you'll be joining our Baler trip on Monday". It was Friday afternoon.

I spent a week in Baler. I was spoiled despite the work. And looking back, I think I can describe that experience in two words: "rich and colorful". Baler is a not-so-quick escape from civilization.

If you're commuting from Manila, you can ride a Genesis bus in their terminal in Cubao. It's past the MRT Cubao station and the last trip to Baler leaves at around 7am. I paid around P380+ for my ticket but was reimbursed since I wasnt aware we had our own private bus rented by Sen. Angara. So I had to ride the public bus from EDSA to Cabanatuan where it stopped for passengers to go to the bathroom and buy food. I met up with my boss and rode the rented bus (still a Genesis bus since they're the only bus line that goes straight to Baler). We had lunch in Cabanatuan City. I grabbed some shut-eye and woke up seeing mountains and trees. It was Sierra Madre. We were in Nueva Vizcaya and by 5pm we were in Baler. The road isn't smooth and at some point you'd think the bus will fall into the cliff. So be sure to pack your medicines or candy and get ready for a whirl. Dont forget your iPod also since it's a long ride and you'd love to have your roadtrip music with you.

We checked-in at Bahia de Baler 2 (there are two Bahia de Baler, one are the bungalows, the other one is the hotel-type). If you're commuting, you go down in the town proper then ride a tricycle to the resorts by the beach. I believe tricycle drivers are familiar with the names of the resorts.

Bahia de Baler was such a nice place. The rooms were big enough (although I'm not aware of the room cost since we were sponsored). One room even had an upper floor inside it. It was like a small condo unit. It's great for families who are staying since you dont have to get an extra bed for your kids. You get free breakfast buffet. I loved their shredded beef tapa! Also, they had good choices of tea and coffee. Yes I was spoiled - from the pretty wooden floors to the yummy shredded beef tapa and the lunch buffet (again, sponsored) with yummy desserts. I greatly enjoy trips if the food is good. Expect a lot of seafood for obvious reasons.

shredded beef tapa! I hope we meet again

We were there to celebrate Araw ng Baler and to review the status of the UP School of Health Science. Everything was sponsored so I cant really say much about expenses. However, do take advantage of the beach. I wasnt able to swim for the whole week since we were busy attending events but the sand looked fine and the water was calling me the whole time. Locals warned us not to go far if we were to take a dip since we could end up straight to the Pacific Ocean.

If you're buying souvenirs, dont forget your sabutan products. Sabutan is an indigenous screwpine abundant in Baler. We took home a fan and a summer hat made of sabutan. You can also buy bags and slippers.

My freebie sabutan hat 

Even though I felt like I was spoilt since it was a work/getaway, I was sad not to have experience Baler as one great adventure. Baler is known for surfing in Sabang and Cemento beach. Also there are dive spots you can visit. Maybe next time I visit we can do these things.

We got to celebrate with the locals the 400th foundation day of Baler because we went in August. Every part of town was decorated . I got to see Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and some ambassadors during her visit to honor the town. We watched "Gabi ng Musikang Pilipino" at the Baler Sports Complex where Isay Alvarez, Bo Cerrudo, Rachelle Gerodias, Ervin Lumauag,  the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, UP Singing Ambassadors and the local Baler Youth and Children's Choir performed. I loved the love songs medley done by Isay Alvarez.

they really know how to celebrate
Baler has a rich history and culture worth exploring. And from the food to the souvenirs to the places, the place will definitely put color in your escape.

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