Baler Bound: Roaming Around Aurora (Part 2)
|Baler Catholic Church|
1. Visiting the Baler Catholic Church
If you have seen the movie "Baler," a 2008 entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival led by the famous Filipino artists Jericho Rosales and Anne Curtis, you might recognize this church as it was used as a venue in one of the scenes in the movie. History reveals that around 54 Spanish men were besieged here in 1898. It was the last episode of resistance of the Spanish Armed Forces to surrender to the Americans. The siege ended in June 2, 1899, almost a year after it had started. This left many Spanish soldiers dead of starvation, disease, wounds, and execution.
|A photo of the original structure of the church in Baler as displayed at the Museo de Baler|
There was mass when we went to the church, so we just went in fast to say a little prayer and continued our historical tour. Our guide pointed out a line of footsteps on the ground, explaining that these footsteps are actual guide to the historical sites in Baler. Just follow the steps and you'll be able to retrace history even if you are travelling solo. Nice idea!
2. Be enchanted at the Balete Park and Millenium Tree
Our next destination was the famous Millenium Tree in the town of Maria Aurora (the town was named after President Manuel L. Quezon's daughter who died with his wife, Doña Aurora in an ambush incident). It has a humongous balete tree of about 600 years of age. It is said to be the largest in Asia.
|The gigantic balete tree|
|Do I look terrified?|
|Hubby attempting to pose like Tarzan|
|Pomelo is also abundant in Aurora|
|Inside the tree|
3. Paying tribute to Manuel L. Quezon at his birthplace
We then visited the original site of the former president's house just adjacent to Museo de Baler. The original house was shattered by a typhoon many years ago so the locals decided to create a replica beside Quezon's monument. The replica was closed during our visit.
|Manuel L. Quezon's monument on the exact site of his birthplace|
|The replica of Quezon's house|
|Quezon's presidential car|
Right behind Quezon's birthplace monument is the Museo de Baler, a showcase of Baler's rich culture and history. We were asked to log our names and remove our shoes before entering the museum.
|Museo de Baler|
|Intricate art installation at Museo de Baler|
During our visit, there was an exhibit of the award-winning movie, "Baler". The costumes, props, as well as trophies garnered by the cast and crew of the film was there in flying colors.
|A costume worn by Jericho Rosales in the film|
|Awards from the Metro Manila Film Festival|
|Surf's Up photo wall|
|Dia del Galleon|
There were also installations of visual arts at the second floor by the artist Sherwin Paul Gonzales entitled "Portraits of Fortitude." It includes a long artwork showcasing the milestones of the province.
|From the ancient times...|
|...to the time when a tsunami wiped out the province...|
|...to the Siege of Baler...|
|...to World War II...|
|...to the present.|
|Survivors at the Siege of Baler|
|The stairs at Museo de Baler|
|The ground floor|
Our last stop was the pasalubong center just near the integrated terminal. Here, we were able to find colorful products made of sabutan (a local weave from a pandan-like plant that grows abundantly at the forests in Aurora).
|Footwear made of sabutan|
That concludes our historical tour of Aurora. This quick tour of the towns of Baler and Maria Aurora may be short and brief, but the things we had learned are definitely priceless. We were thankful to have been able to retrace a slice of history even for a day.
Where to stay in Baler:
Nothing beats the facilities and food at the newly-opened Costa Pacifica Raintree in Sabang, Beach.
Costa Pacifica Raintree
80 Buton St, Sitio Labasin,
Barangay Sabang, Baler, Aurora, Philippines
4/F Universale Building,
106 Paseo de Roxas cor. Perea Street, Makati
tel (632) 576.4555 | fax (632) 893.2561
Special thanks to Mr. Randy Salvador,
Ms. Mela Sison, Mr. Sherwin Cruz,
and Ms. Pettina Mae Cruz for making
our stay memorable.