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Saturday, April 14, 2012

how to commute to BALER AURORA

Baler is a 3rd class Municipality in the province of Aurora located 230 kilometers northeast of Manila. It is fast becoming a tourist destination these days due to surfing which peak during the surfing season from September-February. It was last Holy Week, April 6-8 when me and my friends decided to try the place and if you are familiar with the Philippines, commuting during Holy Week could be hellish. The 5-6 hour ride could get longer and more messy.

GENESIS BUS is the only passenger bus liner with direct daily trips to Baler. They have good aircondititioned buses and if your budget can afford, take their luxury couch called JOYBUS for 600+ pesos.It's non-stop joyride to Baler.

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 how to commute to BALER AURORA

In our case, the Joybus was already fully booked 2weeks prior to our trip and they are on "stop operation"on Good Friday so it was an additional challenge. I told my peers that the best strategy is to get our asses to CABANATUAN city in Nueva Ecija which is the center of economic activity in the region.From there, well think of our next move.I was pretty positive there will be a lot of rides from there to Baler.

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the heavy buildup of vehicles in North Luzon Expressway

We left Manila 2:10am via 5STAR BUS Cubao on Good Friday. It was the last trip we were told and we barely made it to Cubao. After 2 hours, we were already in Cabanatuan. 

That's where the challenge started. We took the tricycle to Cabanatuan Central Terminal where buses, jeepneys and vans to Baler are stationed. It's 4kilometers away from the intersection in downtown Cabanatuan (layo). It was still dark when we got to the central station and we were immediately told that there are no more buses and jeepneys to Baler as they are also on stop operation coz it's good Friday. The only option left is to hire a van for 3,500php. Each van has a capacity of 14pax, but there were only 6 of us so we waited for other passengers to come so that we can fill the vam It was a non-airconditioned van. We were originally told that the rate is 220php per pax but since there were only 12 of us, we paid 250php each. Okay na yun, at least di siksikan.
Genesis Joybus
Genesis JOYBUS luxury couch


Turns out that 250php is so sulit.Come to think of it. It took us more than 4 hours to navigate the route.Mabundok kasi.Masasabi mo na sulit na yun talaga. There were only 12 of us so we were not very crowded inside.Me room pa to toss and turn.And to take good photos along the way. :)

our contact was kuya Mac
 ---0919.862.9950


THE VAN from Cabanatuan

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THE BEAUTIFUL SCENERY
along
 THE SIERRA MADRE MOUNTAIN RANGE

If you look at the map, Baler is already near Cabanatuan, I think you can travel the expanse for 2 hours if not for the SIERRA MADRE Mountain Range which separates the vast plains of Nueva Ecija and that of Baler Bay area. All in all, it took us more than 4.5 hours to get to Baler from cabanatuan (turns out that our driver was too sleepy that morning so we were very slow, I thanked him though for being cautious knowing that he is very sleepy. Yung iba kasi inaantok na pero mayayabang parin mag drive) , and 3.5hours on our way back, with the same van and same driver.

Then  again, the view leading to Aurora as the van cuts trough the mountains is breathtaking.Perfect for somebody like me who don't usually sleep on the road. With my 200mm lens and camera at hand, pyesta,pyesta sa sightseeing. :)

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PANTABANGAN LAKE

The route we took passed by Pantabangan Nueva Ecija where the famous Pantabangan Dam is located.


"Pantabangan Dam is an earth-fill embankment dam on the Pantabangan River.The multi-purpose dam provides water for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation while its reservoir affords flood control. The reservoir is considered one of the largest in Southeast Asia and also one of the cleanest in the Philippines. Construction on the dam began in 1971 and it was complete in 1977."---wikipedia

Pantabangan Dam
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THE HOLY WEEK RITES

Along the way, we saw a couple of catholic faithfuls doing their Lenten Vows of  Good Friday flagellation. They were in the middle of nowhere, nakakatuwa and nakakapangilabot at the same time.Not the usual sight on an ordinary day.

how to commute to Baler Aurora
Holy week_in Nueva Ecija
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Good Friday flagellation in Nueva Ecija

THE FINAL APPROACH TO BALER

the other side of Sierra Madre is another plain leading to Baler Bay. You can still notice the mountain rages on both directions as you pass trough wide rivers where people were already flocking to swim that time. It's already summer in the Philippines!

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 Baler Aurora_river
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Baler Aurora

THE RETURN TRIP

Baler is where we surfed, dined and hiked the waterfalls. Baler is host to spectacular geographic formations and is situated on a vast plain at the mouth of Baler Bay, a contiguous segment of the Philippine Sea.I will be talking about some of the best Surfing Deals similar to mediterranean cruise deals on my next post.

We went back to Manila on Easter Sunday and it was already 3pm when we got to the central terminal. there were no more buses directly servicing Manila so we ended up waiting for passenger vans to Cabanatuan again.We waited for almost an hour but it seems that the next van was not in sight.Good thing Marvin, one of our colleagues saw Kuya Mac, the same van driver we hired going to Baler, together with 4 other travelers, we rented his van for 3,000php and off we go for a smooth ride back to Cabanatuan then Manila. 


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waiting for the van at Baler Central Terminal
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EN SUMMARY
How to commute to Aurora on a Holy Week
(if you miss the direct bus to Baler )

1.Bus from Manila to Cabanatuan
aircon---200php
2.Cabanatuan crosing to Cabanatuan Central terminal
20php per head
3.  Van/jeepney from Cabanatuan to Baler Central terminal
ordinary-220php
aircon--250php
4..tricycle to accomodation
10php/head--within downtown
15php/head---Sabang Beach


our VAN contact was kuya Mac
 ---0919.862.9950

PS: We navigated the Sierra Madre section for only 3.5 hours this time. Kuya Mac was kind enough to take us directly to ES Bus Station in downtown Cabanatuan where we took the bus to Manila. Summary of our Baler Getaway coming up!!!!
_____________________________

7 comments:

  1. if you are familiar with the Philippines, commuting during Holy Week could be hellish --- naku sir sinabi mo pa! kami nagporthopping from Romblon to Mindoro to Batangas makauwi lang ng Manila...

    ReplyDelete
  2. wagas talaga pag mga ganyang panahon.. kelangan minsan cowboy.. parang gusto ko magbangka dun sa may lake..

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the info. :D This will help us a lot

    ReplyDelete
  4. thanks for the info. Actually becomes even more beautiful if you know its historical significance. Ever heard of the Siege of Baler? Aurora and Palencia, Spain have signed a sisterhood pact because of this historical role.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey there! Did you know that you can now book your bus ticket online?
    You can check out http://www.iwantseats.com.ph for Joybus schedule of trips and bus ticket booking. You can even get confirmation of reservation in 1 minute! Try niyo! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. The last photos are actually not part of Pantabangan Dam, it's already Canili-Diayo Dam/Lake that's under Nueva Vizcaya :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. kung manggagaling po ng manaoag church pano po papuntang baler?

    ReplyDelete

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