Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Discovering Baler - a mapping expedition

Sabang Beach Surfing - Schadow1 Expeditions

April 17-20, 2013
Part 1 of the Baler Series

In modern times, Baler is known as the place in the Philippines where surfing was first introduced as the waves in this town is always favorable for surfing. Sabang beach, the town's longest beach, is on a strategic location. With its concave shape and facing the Pacific Ocean, its topography supplies a continuous opportunity for surfers to enjoy the sea. Aside from the beach and its waves, Baler offers even much more: with stunning rock formations, waterfalls, and a vivid history. Schadow1 Expeditions went there during a long summer weekend to enjoy it and map it.

Baler is the capital city of Aurora Province and is situated at the eastern edge of Luzon. It is a newly named province which was a part of the larger Tayabas province until the old province was split into two making the southern part of Tayabas as Quezon province and the northern half as Aurora. Aurora is named after Maria Aurora Aragon - Quezon, the wife of the country's 2nd President of the Republic and considered the 1st president after the colonial rule of United States in the Philippines. Baler is also the birthplace of the same president. The province was named after her after her assassination by rebels when she is on the way to opening a school during her active days as a humanitarian worker for the Red Cross.

Baler is located at a flat land just beyond the Sierra Madre range and is facing the Pacific Ocean. Unlike the plains of Nueva Ecija to which Aurora is adjacent to and is protected by the Sierra Madre range, Baler does not have any protection from incoming storms from the Pacific Ocean. As such Baler is most of the time unprotected from typhoons. An earthquake that formed a tsunami during the 18th century have devastated the whole town forcing its residents to flee to higher ground which is now known as Ermita Hill (coordinates N15.75474, 121.58061E).

Tromba Marina - Ermita Hill, Baler - Schadow1 Expeditions

But in spite of it being disaster-stricken in the past, on moderate times, its location is favorable for surfers as easterly winds continue to bring forth waves to its shores while the mountains at the back blocks the wind and is blown back to Baler, giving an infinite cycle of winds for the town.

Tourist Spots

Sabang beach is the longest beach in the town. The sand of the beach is a fine grayish brown sand. If you are looking for white beach, this is not the place to be, but its condition is meant for surfers and beach-goers who would like to have peace and greet the stunning sunrise every day. The beach is comprised of a 2.2 kilometer strip extending from Duongan River to Camp Revena. The northern half of the strip is proliferated with hotels, guest houses, surfing schools, restaurant and grills while the other half near the mouth of Duongan River is a more serene area with tent-sites and campsites with a few surf schools. This includes Secret Spot where we stayed for two nights during our mapping expedition. (coordinates N15.76092 E121.56929)

Sabang Beach Sunrise - Schadow1 Expeditions

Other beaches that are semi-white and gray is located along Barangay Zabali after passing by Ermita Hill and these beaches are gifted with beautiful rock formations. This inludes the Diguisit Beach and Cemento Beach which is separated by the Diguisit Rock formation. Cobra Reef is along side the rock formation which is also a popular surfing location. (coordinates N15.76426 E121.60018)

Diguisit Rocks, Baler - Schadow1 Expeditions

Further south you can grace through the Aniao Islets which are also popular for its rock formations.

The hill nearby Aniao, and is also the highest location in Baler lies two structures. One is the Baler lighthouse and the PAGASA Doppler Radar which is used by the government to detect storms in a 300-kilometer radius. (coordinates N15.74906 E121.63239)

Traversing this hill is a more stunning beach, the Dicasalarin Cove. (coordinates N15.7390 E121.6347)

Baler also has two waterfalls. Technically, only one as the other falls is already located off its border and is administered by a neighboring San Luis town.

Diguisit Falls is at Barangay Zabali and is just along the road side near Diguisit Beach and is a refreshing escape from the hot road trip to Baler. (coordinates N15.75592 E121.61353)

The Mother Falls, also known as Ditumabo Falls is located at Barangay Ditumabo, San Luis, Aurora is a 4-kilometer easy trek from the main road. The falls is about 50-meter high and supplies fresh water and hydro-electric power for the town. (coordinates N15.6745 E121.4775)

Ditumabo Falls, Mother Falls, San Luis, Aurora - Schadow1 Expeditions

Off the northern border of Baler, the town of Maria Aurora is the largest and oldest tree in Asia at about 5-storey high and is about 400-600 years old. Its trunk is huge as it occupies 191 square meters area. (coordinates N15.76969 E121.47695)

Asia's Largest Oldest Balete Tree - Schadow1 Expeditions

The town of Baler in Aurora and its beaches and tourist locations have been mapped by Schadow1 Expeditions and the mapping data has been contributed to +OpenStreetMap Philippines and RoadGuide Philippines. A map based from Openstreetmap data is being generated by Schadow1 Expeditions in a regular basis which can be used with your GPS navigation devices to guide you on your travels and hikes. This is so a Filipino would not be a stranger to his own motherland.

Google Maps (link)
Schadow1 Expeditions Contributions (link)

How to use for your Navigation System (link)

For a more detailed account of Schadow1 Expeditions on its mapping expedition of Baler, check on the links below:

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