Soul Surfers in Baler: Warming Up

They say people get emotional when their birthdays are coming near. Last year, it was proven to me. I was depressed. My goals were blurry. My people were busy. And I can’t seem to feel my worth. I hid it. Because I am supposed to be Mr. Optimistic and I should chase silver linings. Maybe it was about work. Maybe it was about relationship. Whatever it was, I needed to breathe.

It was November and my travel squad was planning to go on another adventure. No matter how busy my schedule was, and no matter how broke I was, I said go. That was exactly what I needed.

It was Mark who usually organize such trips. He contacted several travel agencies and looked for the best bidder. And it was 8 Wonders Travel which was picked. I left the negotiation to them since I am never good with bargaining. At least, what ever happens to us, it will be Mark’s burden. Haha.

Fast forward to the trip proper, we were picked up by a private service at Eastwood Libis since most of the travel buddies were working there. The road trip started at exactly 1:00 AM. Most of us just slept through the trip since we were all from office work.

It was 7:00 AM when we reached our first stop: the giant Balete Tree at Brgy. Quirino. My friends who have been here before told me that I should try going inside the tree. Unfortunately, it was raining when we arrived so the tree was wet and the land was muddy. So our first stop somehow just became a restroom break / merienda break.

1 Balete Tree

It was unfortunate that I wasn’t able to experience becoming Bran or the Three-Eyed Raven.

Our accommodation was in Pacific Waves Inn which happened to be just walks away from Sabang Beach. We just left our bags in the room, and proceeded with our itinerary.

1 Sabang Beach

Sunrise at Sabang Beach. Just blocks away from our room.

So we started the trip anew. First stop part 2: Ermita Hill. Stories say that Ermita Hill served as an evacuation area for the residents when a huge tidal wave hit the province back in 17th century.

2 Ermita Hill 1

Morning hiking at Ermita Hill.

2 Ermita Hill 2

Ermita Hill is always in the itinerary of every Baler traveller.

2 Ermita Hill 3

Let’s play soccer! Or golf!

2 Ermita Hill 4

Cobra Reef, as seen from Ermita Hill.

Well there’s not a lot to do in Ermita Hill except for taking pictures and appreciating the majestic view of Aurora.

Next stop: Diguisit Beach. There is a P20 entrance fee per head. Not that big of a deal since the view here is just amazing.

3 Diguisit Beach : Aniao Islets 2

I can look and listen to those waves for hours.

3 Diguisit Beach : Aniao Islets 3

Aniao Islet, as seen from Diguisit Beach.

3 Diguisit Beach : Aniao Islets 1

From left: Ian, Mark, Laurence and Romeo. Back row: Jonathan, Kevin and me.

Even if the waters were so clear and the waves were just mild, we weren’t ready to swim and get wet at that time since we still had a lot in our itinerary. Just near the beach was a lighthouse. We had to trek up the mountain to reach it.

4 Lighthouse 1

We’re sorry Laurence that you always have to face your fear of heights whenever you’re with us.

4 Lighthouse 2

The climb was extra difficult since it was slippery. Thank you rain.

Climbing up that mountain was not easy. It rained the night before so it was slippery. And I was just wearing slippers. And I was carrying a camera. The struggle was real. I was palpitating and had difficulty in breathing. But I just kept it myself. I didn’t want to spoil their happiness. Besides, it must be nice to die in such a spot. Haha.

4 Lighthouse 3

It seems that Laurence can’t believe that he did it. Haha.

4 Lighthouse 4

The Best Vandal Award goes to…

We weren’t able to go inside the lighthouse because its gate was locked. But it was fine. The view up that mountain was good enough.

4 Lighthouse 5

The view was perfect as a desktop wallpaper.

We just rested there for about half an hour before going down. We then went to the town proper to visit several heritage sites of Baler.

5 Museo

At Museo de Baler. We didn’t enter for reasons I forgot. We just ate ice cream outside. Haha.

7 Dona Aurora House 1

At Doña Aurora House. Doña Aurora was the wife of former president Manuel Quezon.

With all the walk and talk, we were all starving. We searched for buffet, and we found Gerry Shan’s Place. For just P200, we were able to eat as much seafood and other Chinese delicacies that they offer.

8 Gerry Shan 1

Beware of our Nen. 

After lunch, we went back to our room to rest because in a couple of hours, we’ll go surfing at the nearby Sabang Beach!

9 Sabang Surf 1

Dog: “Noobs. I can surf better than all of you.”

9 Sabang Surf 2

Free surfing lessons were included in the travel package.

9 Sabang Surf 3

Romeo, being a pro surfer in just minutes.

I felt frustrated while I was trying to surf. In my peripheral vision, I can see the squad managing to get on the board while on the waves. All of them but me. I couldn’t. I always get thrown away. Then I try to analyze myself while on the board. I always lean on just one side of the surfboard. Then I realized I always have this problem with balance. Same goes when I try learning how to swim. Same goes with my life.

Surf

I handed my camera to Kuya who taught us. He took no pictures of me while I was on the waves. Just this one.

The night had come and we had to rest. I know that it won’t be the last time that I’ll try surfing. It may take years. It may take decades. But I will learn. I know, in time, I will master balance.

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