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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Baler, Aurora: More Than Just Surfing

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers
Diguisit Rock Formation, Baler

Before I visited Baler, the first thing that comes to my mind, always, is surfing.. just that.. and oh, non-whitesand beach! But now that I have come to see this what-is-known-to-many as a surfing paradise, I realized, geez, there's more to it than surfing!

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

So shut off the idea that Baler is only for surfing because guess what? It has a majestic waterfall, a breathtaking rock formation that oversees the ocean, a hanging bridge, a tree so huge you can even get inside it and breathe through its history, a mansion of a former Philippine first lady, and a museum that will take you down memory lane.

Here are the beautiful sceneries Baler etched in my memories..

1. Millennium Tree of Asia

Baler's "Millennium Tree" is claimed to be the largest Balete tree (strangler fig) in Asia at 200 ft tall and 49 ft in diameter. It is estimated to be about 600+ years old. You can actually fit inside its core at the base! Amazing!


2. Baler Hanging Bridge

One of our stops on our first day before heading on to our hotel is this hanging bridge in Barangay Zabali. It's a nice Baler kickoff to take a few groupies or selfies. A "fresh" refreshment also awaits you at the end of the bridge courtesy of the fresh coconut juice being sold for just 15 pesos.


3. Doña Aurora's Mansion and Museo de Baler

Baler is the birthplace and hometown of Philippines' second president, Manuel L. Quezon. In fact, the province of Aurora was named after her wife, Maria Aurora. Museo de Baler has bits and pieces of the province' deep history, as well as works of art from well-known Filipino artists.

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

A few walks from Museo de Baler is Doña Aurora's Mansion. Though it has gone through several restorations and renovations, stepping inside the mansion feels surreal. You get a feel on how simple life is back then, even for the rich and famous.

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers
Dinning area of the mansion

4. Of course, SURFING!

Surf haven as what this small town is known for and what most tourists come to see. Baler was once tagged by Google as one of the best beach destinations in the Philippines, and by Yahoo as one of the top surf spots in the country. And it surely is! A paradise for surfing enthusiasts!

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

Our tour package included a free 1 hour surfing lesson, so yeah, surf board's up! :)

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

5. Ditumabo Mother Falls

Our reward after subjecting ourselves to almost one hour of muddy and slippery trek! You will literally forget how tired you are when you get a sight of the majestic waterfall.

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

Yes, I slipped! :)))
Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

Now I know why they call it the "mother falls". Enchanting!

Warning: the water is freezing cold! Haha!

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

6. Diguisit Beach and Rock Formation

Our last destination on our second day in Baler, probably the most challenging one, well, if you dare to climb the rock formation. Otherwise, it's gonna be a relaxing chill time at the beach while you watch the waves and the beautiful rock boulders all over.

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But I chose to push my limits, so yeah, I climbed the rocks!! :D It's quite risky since you don't get to wear any harness or safety gear. Climb at your own risk!

Warning: Be extra careful in choosing which rock to step on because one wrong move, and the raging waves + killer rocks are waiting to cradle you!

Baler, Aurora, Sabang Beach, Costa Pacifica, Ditumabo Mother Falls, Surfing, Beaches, Travel and Leisure, Travel Itinerary, Philippines, Diguisit Beach Rock Formation, Baler Surf Grill, Millennium Tree of Asia, Hanging Bridge, Rock Scrambling, Pinoy Mountaineers

I have provided a detailed tour itinerary below for everyone! :)

Follow me on Instagram @enjayneer for real-time travel updates!

Detailed Itinerary
Driver's Name (includes accommdation and tour): Ses Cabral - 09175940238

Goodvibes Transient House PHP 2,500/PERSON
• Available room set up: dorm type rooms (3,4,8 and 12pax/room)
Inclusions:
• Accommodation (3 days and 2 nights)
• Roundtrip Van Transfers (QC-Baler-QC)
• Tour Guide (Mother Falls only)
• Driver; Professional Fee, Food and Accommodation
• Fuel and Toll Fees
• Full tour around Baler

DAY 1
0000 Market Market, Taguig Assembly Time
0100 ETD
0330 Mega Shell Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija Stopover / CR break / Snacks
0600 Pantabangan Lake Sunrise
0800 Millennium Tree of Asia
0900 Sabang Beach Breakfast
1000 Sabang Beach
1200 Museo de Baler
1230 Baler Church
1245 Dona Aurora mansion
1300 Hanging Bridge
1330 Lunch
1400 Hotel check in + rest
1630 Surfing
1900 Sabang Beach Dinner
2030 Back in the hotel

DAY 2
0700 Wakeup call. Pack up for Mother Falls
0830 Breakfast
0930 Mother Falls hike
1200 Lunch
1345 Hotel - freshen up
1445 Diguisit Beach
2030 Hotel - chill night + videoke nearby

DAY 3
0700 Wakeup call
0715 Sabang Beach – Breakfast and free time for surfing
1100 Check out
1145 am Lunch
1230 Souvenir shop for pasalubong
1600 Cabanatuan City stopover
2100 ETA Trinoma

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What to See at the "Heart" of the Philippines, Marinduque

Ungab Rock Formation, Mongpong Island, Maniwaya Island, Marinduque, Philippines, the Heart of the Philippines, Balanacan Port, Itinerary, Accommodation, Hotel, Resort, #VisitPH2015, #VisitPhilippines2015, #itsmorefuninthephilippines
Ungab Rock Formation, Mongpong Island

 Maniwaya Island, White Sand, Beach, #VisitPH2015, #VisitPhilippines2015, #itsmorefuninthephilippines, Marinduque, Philippines, the Heart of the Philippines, Balanacan Port, Itinerary, Accommodation, Hotel, Resort
Maniwaya Island

Checked another Philippines province, yeah! Marinduque is an island in the Luzon island group of the Philippines, east of Mindoro, south of Quezon and north of Romblon. The province is home to the Moriones Festival held during Holy Week. It is dubbed as the "Heart" of the Philippines because one, it's shaped like a heart and two, it's located at the heart/center of the Philippines.





Our destinations: Maniwaya and Mongpong Islands

It was a roughly 3-hour bus ride from Manila to Lucena. From Lucena you need to take a roro to Balanacan port which takes around 2-3 hours as well. From the port, another 45-minute boat ride to Maniwaya Island. See detailed itinerary below.

What to see in Marinduque:

1. Palad Sandbar

Palad Sandbar, located two miles away from the northeast coast of Maniwaya Island, boasts of crystal clear water and ivory white sand and is only visible at low tides.

"Palad" means palm of the hand in Filipino. The circularly shaped sandbar looks like a palm of the hand.




2. Powdery-white sand + serene and peaceful beach

If you're looking for a nice beach to just relax and unwind without the noisy crowd and all that jazz, Maniwaya Island is the perfect beach getaway. Unlike any other tourist-y beaches in the Philippines, not too many people flock here (except on Holy Week, Moriones Festival - Marinduque's star festival).

Mongpong Island on the other hand, is perfect for the more adventurous or those who wish to be away from the rapid-paced life in the city but want a bit of adrenaline pump.






3. Sumptuous seafood!

Balakwit was the star of our meal during our stay in Maniwaya. Balakwit, also known as conches, is a type of edible seashells found along the shores of Marinduque. The locals consider it as one of their staple food and can be cooked into different kinds of delicious dishes.



4. Ungab Rock Formation

Mongpong Island is famous for its beautiful overarching bridge rock formation called Ungab which towers about 100 feet above the water.

From Maniwaya, the Ungab rock formation in Mongpong Island is definitely another site worth visiting.



 

5. The hospitality of the people

We stayed at Villa Atilana Resort–a guesthouse that features nipa hut accommodations at an affordable package. The accommodation package does not include meals, but they can cook for you at an added cost.

One of the many things I enjoyed at Villa Atilana is the warm welcome of the staff, including the owner, Atilana. Tita Atilana was hands on during our stay, as if we were just staying in a relative's house. A lot of chit-chats during our free time and she even gave us Korean Ampalaya (Bitter Gourd) seedlings. Filipino hospitality for the win!!




Follow me on Instagram @enjayneer for real-time travel updates! :)

Detailed Itinerary:

DAY 1
21:00 Meet-up JAC Liner Buendia
22:00 JAC liner bound to Lucena (Only 10pm and 12am trips)

DAY 2
03:00 ETA Lucena (Dalahican Port). Buy tickets to Cawit Port, Marinduque
04:00 ETD to Marinduque (Balanacan Por)
07:00 ETA Cawit or Balanacan Port. Take jeep or Van to Sta Cruz
07:30:00 ETA to Sta Cruz town proper (Palengke) Breakfast, Hire a trike to Buyabod Port
08:00 Rent boat to Maniwaya Island.
09:30 ETA Maniwaya Island and Early lunch
11:00 Island hopping (Polo Island, Ungab Rock Formation, Palad Sandbar, and swimming onwards.)

DAY 3
06:00 Wake up. Breakfast. Swim-photo ops-swim
11:00 Break Camp/Clean-up
13:00 ETD to Buyabod Port
14:00 ETA Buyabod Port. Buy tickets to Lucena Port
18:00 ETA Manila

Estimated Budget:

Php 230.00 Jac Liner bus, Buendia - Lucena-Dalahican Port
Php 30.00 Terminal Fee Dalahican Port
Php 270.00 Roro to Balanacan Port
Php 20.00 Terminal Fee Balanacan Port
Php 100.00 Jeep form Balanacan Port to Sta Cruz
Php 80.00 Van Sta. Cruz to Balanacan Port
Php 270.00 RoRo to Balanacan Port
Php 240.00 Bus Lucena to Edsa (Ortigas)

Php 230/head = Php 4,000 chartered boat (includes island hopping) / 18 pax
Php 473/ head - Villa Atilana accommodation for 18 pax

Total Damage = Php 2,313/head
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Talk soon!
- Jaypee