It was my first trip to Aurora Province and it won’t be my last. Aurora is located on the Upper East Side of Central Luzon in the Philippines. The province is generally mountainous but its shoreline spans over 400 kilometers in length. Using a public transport is highly recommended for traveling to Baler, the capital city of Aurora. Genesis buses leave Manila for Baler everyday at 6am and 8am, 7 days a week. Driving a personal vehicle could be difficult because of a long drive through rough, narrow and zigzagging mountain roads along the Sierra Madre although I heard a group of adventurous motorists take their SUV’s through the Baler-Pantabangan Road every now and then to get a thrilling ride. For me, I took a 50-minute SeAir flight from Manila to Baler to speed up my trip.
Upon reaching the airport, I went straight to Bay’s Inn, arguably the most popular resort in Aurora. It boasts panoramic views of Baler Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The resort can accommodate up to 32 guests but its restaurant can serve up to 70 people. Both their Garlic Chicken and Crispy Pata are a ‘must-try’. Rates range from Php400 to Php500 per night. After depositing my things, I quickly began my exploration of this relatively unknown province. I rented a tricycle, the most common way to get around in the area. The driver is friendly and courteous enough to bring me to the historical landmarks in Aurora. I visited the Doña Aurora Memorial Shrine, Aurora Quezon Marker, Baler Catholic Church, Lt. Commander James Gilmore Marker and Quezon Memorial Park. Most landmarks have been instrumental to the development of the province and were made in honor of the late president Manuel L. Quezon. I also found out that Baler is where we celebrate Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day every June 30. It was on this day in 1899 that President Emilio Aguinaldo decreed that the last Spanish soldiers to surrender to the American regime during the Siege of Baler be treated as friends of the New Republic instead of prisoners of war. After I did a walking tour on my own, I found out from a local that there is a Baler Historical Committee who can arrange a historical tour upon request.
The next day, I decided to do a one-day surfing crash course at Bay’s Inn. Local surfers hang out here often and they can readily give you pointers. The months of October and February are the best times to surf in Aurora. These months bring in the larger waves and ideal for surfers to learn the basics. The beach is relatively safe from scratches, since most of the beaches for surfing have a sandy bottom. One of the locals mentioned that they hold the Aurora Surfing Cup sometime in February, pitting the local surfers against their international counterparts.
It was an exhaustive but enjoyable day. Two days are definitely too short to visit Aurora. Because of the vast, untouched natural resources of the province, it is a haven for adventure travelers. I want to go back and have a picnic by Bulawan Falls and go trekking further out into the northern towns which, I heard, are even more pristine and virgin.
Aurora’s natural attractions include picturesque waterfalls, lush greenery on mountainsides, and panoramic beaches. Surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, spelunking, mountain climbing and trekking are some of the activities a tourist can enjoy in Aurora. This past trip is only the beginning of many more adventures to come.
For additional information about Aurora, check their official website at www.aurora.ph.