(naks! parang ang dami lang napuntahan.)
I availed a scheduled leave last April 6-9, 2013 but I failed to book a flight prior to that date so wala akong lakad kung nagkataon. Chaka naman na apat na araw akong walang pasok tapos sa bahay lang?! Purica Paralejo?!? Yoko nga. So I decided to just go to Baler with my whole family since I've never been to that place. Zac is turning two but we never got the chance to test drive it that far. So I thought... this is the moment in time. Let's make it shine.
|Clean Sabang Beach|
We embarked on our journey early morning since we are expected to arrive in Baler at 12:00 noon. We left our house in Rizal at around 6am in the morning.
We took that purple road. Longer but smoother equals shorter time. But if you aren't good enough to read maps like me, here's the very wordy yet helpful tips:
Via Private transport
1. Go to Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija via the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) or Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). You can reach Cabanatuan via NLEX-Bulacan-Gapan route or NLEX-SCTEX-Tarlac-Sta. Rosa Route. The latter route would be longer but takes a shorter time.
- NLEX-Bulacan-NE route. Go to NLEX. Take the Sta. Rita exit. Take the road passing through Plaridel, Baliuag, San Ildefonso, San Miguel, Gapan NE, Sta. Rosa to Cabanatuan.
- NLEX-SCTEX-Tarlac-Sta.Rosa route. NLEX up to Clark Logistics Interchange. Enter SCTEX going to Tarlac. Exit at Amucao, Tarlac (End of SCTEX). Turn right to La Paz up to Sta. Rosa, NE. Turn left going to Cabanatuan.
2. From Cabanatuan City, there are two routes going to Baler, The Baler Bongabong-Road and the Canili-Pantabangan Road. We recommend taking the Canili-Pantabangan road because the roads are better even though the route is longer. The Baler-Bongabon road is for the more adventurous kind and will take you to winding rough roads across the Sierra Madre.
- Canili-Pantabangan Route. From Cabanatuan take the Maharlika Highway going to Talavera, Nueva Ecija. Turn right to the road going to Rizal, Nueva Ecija then Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija. The road will take you to Canili, Maria Aurora, Aurora. The road will pass through the Sierra Madre until you reach the Poblacion of Maria Aurora. From Maria, Aurora you can then go straight to Baler.
- Baler-Bongabon Route. From Cabanataun take the Maharlika Hiway and turn right to the Nueva Ecija – Aurora Road (landmark: crossing with Shell Gas Station and NE Restaurant). The road will pass through Palayan City and Bongabon, Nueva Ecija. From Bongabon turn right to the road going to the Sierra Madre mountains. After two or three hours of winding road you will reach the municipality of San Luis and then Baler.
Via Public Transport
1. Ride a Genesis bus with daily trips to Baler. Genesis transport terminal is located at #33 Edsa corner New Yor St., Cubao, Quezon City. The earliest Genesis trip to Baler is 1:00 am in the morning. Fare is less than 400 pesos.
2. Ride any Cabanatuan bound bus. Recommended buses are Genesis, 5 Star, ES and Baliwag (fare: less than 200 pesos). At the Cabantuan Central Transport terminal, you can ride buses (Genesis, D’ Liner, etc.) or vans going to Baler (fare 200 or below). Trips going to Baler are only up to 5:00 or 6:00 pm.
The zigzag road is unbelievable. Feeling Baguio lang. I felt like throwing up after several hours. We passed by Nueva Ecija, the Rice Granary of the Philippines (kumu-kuya kim?! lol!). It was my first time to see those huge rice fields. Gusto ko sumakay sa kuliglig. hihih! Promding Promdi kasi ang peg. Retired na ata ang mga kalabaw. I was lucky enough to try the old version during my childhood.
You won't get bored on the long drive. Some sceneries are comparable to Baguio or Tagaytay believe it or not. I saw a lot of pine trees. Yey! Though we did not try opening our windows to see if the weather's cold too. Sayang!
I already have contacts to Baler beforehand since I have read a lot of blogs about it. I was planning to try Gonzales homestay but there are conflicts with my family's schedule so I did not pursue it. Basta. Mr. Edwin Gonzales passed us on to his cousin, Sherwin. I was very excited since I already read a lot of great reviews of this guy as an artist. He's famous I supposed since most of his artworks are displayed in Museo de baler. The house is not located at the beach front. You can reach Sabang beach via tricycle for I think 7-10 minutes.
Here are some of my pics of the house:
The place is ok and decent since we can cook our own food; it has 2 bedrooms and bathrooms; we owned it by ourselves. I was just disappointed at some point. The water stinks bigtime. I'd rather soak myself in sea water rather than using it. My mother already told the owner that we really couldn't bear the smell. He got an excuse that it is due to the earthquake few days before we arrived. Thought he was spared by that reason but no. My younger brother and I transferred to his classmates' family owned business - Carlito's Inn on day 2 but the water was clean and no signs of dirt or anything. Had I known that it would be much better, we could have booked there on our entire stay. I hope he would be able to read this because his place needs some serious renovation.
Moving on.. (I noticed I'm always on the nagging mode. Not good.) The reason why I went to Baler is only because of one thing. Naku pwede ba wag na tayong magpanggap, surfing lang naman ang nangungunang activity dito no! Dali!
Surfing is one of the sports I've been dying to try. Gusto ko lang malaman kung may sense of balance pa ba ang katawan ko. Isa pa, kulelat na ko sa lahat ng bloggers. Lahat sila nasubukan na yun. hihihi! I was hesitant at first, but after watching a lot of newbies having their own ligwak moments, hindi na ko nagpatumpik tumpik. We chose Mahdox Surf School only because it's the first stall we passed by. hahah! Tamad lang.
Surfing rate is 350/hour with a trainer (or should I say taga-tulak? ^_^) As a newbie, you really can't get up without their help. I highly recommend it. Believe me since we tried renting just a surf board on second day but none of us was able to stand. They brief us a bit. For those who don't know how to swim like me, you can tell your trainer so he won't position you on the deeper part.
I asked someone before if you can wear life vest while surfing. The answer is no. Shokota Fanning! hahaha!
|I really can't figure this out|
Sinabi ko lang kay kuya na ready na ako.. pero di ko talaga alam kung ano ba dapat ang stance na para sakin. Itutulak ka niya para malaman niya kung ano ang paang unang babagsak. But it's for you to know kung san ka talaga kumportable. Game!
Since it's 3pm, waves are not in a rush. It's actually perfect for first timers. You'll have more time to contemplate on life, love, happiness, world peace.. charot! Best time to surf for pro and feeling pro is early in the morning and late afternoon.
We waited for a few more minutes.
|then we slept.. hahaha!|
Suddenly the trainor shouted "READY!"... I felt the rush. Then he finally yelled "Up!" and then I plunged into the water. hahah! Walang kalaban laban. Minsan, sa kabagalan ko, di pa man nakakatayo, lusaw na ang wave. Badtrip lang. hahah! For 1 hour, I can proudly say I was able to stand only once. Ang yabang ko na nun. hahaha! Tsk!
|uy! happy na siya..|
|San ang marathon teh?|
Semplangs are the best part isn't it? Here we go.. lol!
|"huwag ka lang mawawala"|
My brother and I stayed for one more day just to surf. Kami ng naadik. Unfortunately we weren't able to visit few of the scenic sites in Baler due to extreme body pain. Alaxan iF-R moments. lol!
More of Baler sa aking pagbabalik.. Ciao!