Solo Travel: Baler, Aurora

Baler is the capital of Aurora Province located on the Pacific Ocean Side of the Philippines. It was the birth place of surfing in my country through the movie Apocalypse Now way back. Obviously, it is a surfing haven for enthusiast and that is one of the reasons I decided to go there for my birthday last May 16.

Yes, inevitably, we all age every year. I still have two years left before my age doesn’t appear in the calendar (yes, the freshness of my youth is slowly fading LOL). It has been a custom of mine that I go out and have an adventure on my birthday despite the disagreement of my parents. But hey, I guess I am old enough to stick to my decisions.  I take this “me” time to think and access myself and plan for the future. It does sound selfish but getting out to an adventure makes me think more plus the adventure of course.

So for this year, I went to Baler. It was a quiet town but very busy on the shores of Sabang Beach (one of this town’s beaches) as it is the popular stop of the surfers and enthusiasts. In the town, it follows the same plaza complex, there the government building, church and park are located at the center. But the town also boasts of history.

I say Baler has a touch of history but is more for eco adventurers and beach bummers.

Below are the places of interest:

  1. Museo de Baler – this is a small museum in front of the Quezon Park which holds some artifacts from the Spanish galleon trade and artworks from local artists. There is also an exhibit about the town’s history and one for the movie Baler. I think you can watch the movie there but it wasn’t playing when I got there. There were also portraits of people on the second floor but I didn’t bother to stay there because I got weirded out because of the portraits.

The amazing thing about this museum is the façade. It has a sculpture or mural that graced the walls on the entrance side of the building. Really nice!

There is no entrance fee but there is a donation box. It would help if you donate a few coins that will help in the maintenance of the museum.

  1. Baler Church – also known as San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Parish holds the most history in the town. This was where Spanish soldiers stayed as revolutionary people surrounded the church demanding that they, the Spaniards, leave the town.

 

The façade of the church was already modernized. Well I guess am just used to the neo gothic designs that old churches normally have. It was also a shame that there was a covered basket ball court next to the church. I thought it would have been better if there was a big space or garden in front of the church. Just a thought!

 

I made a wish (they say that if it is your first time in a church you should make a wish. Guess what I wished for? LOL) and said a thank you prayer for another year of my life and the opportunity to travel.

 

  1. Donya Aurora Aragon House – this was the house of Donya Aurora Aragon whom I think was the reason for the entire province’s name? (am not sure of that). In honesty, this was a let down because I thought it would be a really old house which boasts of old items used in the Spanish era. To me it looked like a refurbished wooden house. It has a nice view of the Baler Church though.

There isn’t much to see in the town BUT there are amazing places to eat! And here they are:

  1. Rolling Stores – I think they got the name from the Rolling Stones. Located near the Baler Museum, this is a good place to grab a bite of Filipino dishes at a very affordable price. I did had a chance to eat there.

 

  1. Gerry Shan’s Eat All You Can – only PHP 200/ person baby! And it comes with over flowing iced tea! Filipino dishes are there: beef steak, caldereta, adobo, spaghetti, pork chops and so on an so forth. Food is really good also. Desserts are also available.

 

It’s like a carinderia all you can but a bit better.

 

Many people flock here during meal times and there might be a line outside to greet you.

 

All the tricycle drivers know about its location.

 

  1. Angelea’s Café – this is pizza and pasta all you can at PHP 200 only! I ate here and found myself in pizza and pasta heaven!

 

There are only 4 pastas available: spaghetti, carbonara, baked mac and lasagna. Despite limited options, it was GOOD! There’s also a small plate of toasted beard with pesto. I didn’t need any fancier pastas. These 4 were GOOD!

 

There is only one pizza available but they make one right away. I ate two Hawaiian pizza slices and about 6 slices of a meaty pizza. It was also GOOD! What made it unique is that instead of using canned tomato sauce as the base for the pizza, they used pureed tomatoes! So imagine my delight.

 

Desserts they have fruits and Graham cake which was OK.

 

Now, not all tricycle drivers know about this place. This is located on the road to Sabang Beach from the city after the Tourist Center. The café also sells flowers.

 

  1. Kusina Luntian – this is good dining with value for money! A trip to Baler is not complete without eating here.

From Costa Pacifica, look for the Bike Rental shop where there is a line of tricycles on the side. Walk through that street and you’ll find a new street that winds to the left. At the intersection, turn right and take a look out for a bahay kubo on the right side of the road and you’ll arrive in Kusina Luntian.

Owner Kuya Biboy runs the place. He left Manila and decided to settle in Baler and he put up Kusina Luntian.

They have the following food options:

Wapang-wapang na Liempo = PHP 85

Akaw!! Longanissa = PHP 85

Adoy… Chicken Adobo = PHP 75

Daing na Bangus da = PHP 65

Wang Patawad na Tapa = PHP 95

Each food option comes with one cup of rice, half salted egg and a handful of edible fern

So there you go. These are the place of interest in the town of Baler.

There are other place to visit around the province and I rented a bike to get there. I’ll share it on another post.

flippin’ out!

 

 

Things to do to combat “Petsa de Peligro”

What does “petsa de peligro” mean?

Well, this is a term that I have heard in the course of my professional life. Literally, it translates to “day of danger”. But it is not like danger as in danger in life that will eventually lead to pain, injury or death.

This phrase is commonly used during a period wherein your wallet or ATM or cash on hand is running low and payday seems so SO far away and it gets you wondering “how will get through?’. So you got it? I hope so.

I think almost every young professional at one point experienced petsa de peligro. Heck, I am still experiencing this even now that I’ve been working for more than 6 years now. I know what your thinking, I should have had some sort of savings from all those 6 years but unfortunately, I have nothing. I even have to make “katok sa ginintuan puso (knock on the golden hearts)” of my parents at times when all else fail. In short, I borrow money from them to be paid off or to be compensated by doing errands or helping them out for something they need. I know, I should be self sufficient by now. But like i said, I have nothing. Well, I think I’m richer in other aspects.

So what are the causes of petsa de peligro?

1. Spending beyond your means – Yup. You might have not budgeted your cash on hand well to a point that you over spend and leave nothing for your day to day spending.

2. Emergency cases – Well, there are things that happen unexpectedly that will mess with ones budget plan.

3. You got less than what you were expecting – What I mean by this is that what you saw in your pay slip was less than the usual you got for that cut off. Reasons may include deductions from tardiness, increase in taxes or monthly deductions.

4. Absence of Budget plan – Let’s face it, majority of us have no budget plan. Or rather, the discipline to stick to that plan. Am I right or am I right?

It is really not sure if I covered it all but am sure that I got the major ones.

So, can you relate?

You might be asking, how can we prevent entering petsa de peligro.

1. Be in the KNOW – Simply put you need to know the following things:

  • What you EARN – know what is your income and how often it comes
  • What you SPEND – daily, weekly and monthly spending is crucial. What I mean is daily is as in every thing you spend on a day: from a transpo expense, a pack of cigarettes, your snack. EVERYTHING. Tally everything up so you know where your money goes
  • WANT or NEED – from your list of expenses, identify what is a necessity or luxury

2. PLAN – given the data that you have, you need to determine expense that you can afford to cut off or at the least, trim down.

3. Put SAVE in your equation – you can put money from the trimmed down or cut off expense into savings. I know finance people say that the proper equation is INCOME less SAVINGS is EXPENSE. But I think this only applies to people who have enough income to cover their expenses. Don’t you agree?

4. Stick to the PLAN – this is the difficult part honestly. Sticking to it. I have problems on this area. I always say ” Stick to the PLAN or the world will STICK you up”. I wouldn’t want that believe me.

But if you are already in the “petsa de peligro” phase, then here are the things that I recommend doing:

1. COUNT your pennies – I know it sucks but you got to know what you have remaining. So take a look at your last withdrawal slip. I would also recommend scouring your bags for spare change. It will help believe me.

2. PAY DAY – Oh yes! The much awaited day! One needs to know how may days left you have till your cup will be full again. Divide it with what you have to know how much you have to spend each day.

3. Know your OPTIONS – More often than not, the resulting everyday budget is a big STRETCH! So adjust your spending particularly on your necessities like food and transportation cigarettes (they’re one of mine). Go for the cheaper ones For example, food from a carinderia/ food stall/ jolly jeep (if you work in Makati) are cheap! Convenience store like 7-11 and Ministop have options too. Oh, and eat slowly. It will make you feel full longer. As for transportation, go public or if you can walk to your office, the better Just remember to adjust your time though to factor in.

4. Make and stick to the PLAN - this is really crucial. It is hard to do it but it is not impossible.

And if all else fail…

5. Borrow with the INTENTION to PAY - borrowing entails a responsibility. Make sure that you also plan for this and commit to settling it.

I’ve been through a number of petsa de peligro days myself and have no sufficient fingers to count for it. And to be honest. I’ve learned the hard way with the help of some of my friends’ and parents advice.

Yes, I acknowledge that it is a reality but it can be over come and ultimately preventable. I am still fighting to be debt free at the moment.

Now, I do take these steps to heart but have lapses of my own due to lack of discipline and that “bahala na si Batman” attitude. But at the end of the day, I always say to my self, Batman won’t pay for my dues as he is a fictional character. Plus I don’t want to live by the pay check.

I hope this was of help somehow.

flippin’ out!

Tips on Bus Travel in the Philippines

I know each and every one of us have ridden a public bus at some point in their life. Well except those who were born in a silver spoon that have their own car or can rent a bus for their trips. But for majority of the population, we take the bus to get from one place to another.

Our family is from the north of Luzon. My mother’s place was in Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija and my father’s in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. And whenever we traveled to those places we would take the bus. This was when our family didn’t have a car. I remember before that the buses were still al fresco, meaning no air conditioning system yet and the buses has three by two seating configuration. And since we were around 4 to 6 yrs old, instead of rushing through the bus doors, we would be hoisted into the bus through the windows. Yes, I was a skinny kid before and I can enter easily through frame of the window. I remember sitting on the lap of my parents or my auntie so that I would be free of charge (I was skinny back then. Right now, I’m obese class 1 as per my latest APE. LOl!)
Fast forward to the present. Buses nowadays, have taken enhancements that makes bus travel easier. Like air conditioning, TV and radio, some buses have comfort rooms already. The seats are now cushioned. Some have WIFI access. And with the emergence of RO-ROs (roll on and roll off ferries), buses can now travel inter island!
In Philippines, even though composed of several islands, there are still those who prefer to travel by bus because of two reasons: 1.) There are no commercial flights available in that destination or 2.) Budget constraints. Some of the provinces still have no airports and flights don’t come cheap! They cost about thousands depending on the destination and how close you are to booking your flight. Really expensive in my opinion, but, hey, it is much faster. You may chance upon promo fares from low cost carriers but chances are SLIM. Believe me I have tried. Seats on sale are only limited so if you are not fast enough, you’ll miss the chance.
Here are some of the destinations that you can reach through buses in Luzon: Baler in Aurora for surfing; Vigan and Laoag in Ilocos for a taste of Spanish heritage; Alaminos in Pangasinan to see the Hundred Islands; Legaspi in Albay to see the majestic Mayon Volcano; Banaue in Ifugao to see the Banaue Rice Terraces; Donsol in Sorsogon to swim with whale sharks and so on and so forth. I could go on but it would be too much. I would leave it to you to
Since buses have now improved, I think it is now time that we consider traveling by bus again. Here’s why:
1. Sleeping and traveling at the same time – this is when you take the night bus. Maximizing your time at its best!
2. Traveling on a budget – did I mentioned that it is cheap?
3. Sightseeing – the sights along the way are either city life, or rice fields, or mountain sides or beaches. Very scenic specially when you get out of the city. So even if you travel by day, your eyes will be entertained. Believe me you will be.
4. Spacious – if you take the deluxe buses, you can recline your seats so that you can sleep comfortably and have enough leg room to stretch around even if you are tall
5. New bus amenities – long bus travel can be somehow more bearable when you have WIFI and is connected with the rest of the world. And it is now available. No need to hold your pee in as some buses have build in lavatories.
Sounds good right? It is.
I was able to take the bus in different occasions in the last six month. I traveled to Baler, Vigan, Laoag and Banaue from Manila and to Caticlan from Kalibo Airport. And here are my tips to make it fun:
1. Know where to get tickets – Of course you need to know where you want to go but where to get the tickets is a more important question. Obviously, tickets are available in the bus terminal but there might be a chance that the bus seats for your trip are sold out and the next one will be by tomorrow.

But it would be more advantageous to visit a travel agent as some of them can book tickets for you at an additional fee of course. But hey, the additional fee would be worth the hassle if you do it on your own. Just a tip: ask them if they can book buses through VIA Philippines. Or you can go online, although not all bus operators have website or online ticketing capabilities.

2. Travel light and secure it– I know this is already a rule of thumb and the same applies to bus travel. Buses have compartment where you can store your bags BUT make sure that it is properly secured with a lock and a bag tag with your name. You must have a smaller bag (a sling bag perhaps) to hold you money, passports and other personal stuff to bring with you on the bus. Don’t worry about your bag being mistakenly picked up but someone else, as the bus conductor will check it.

3. Dress properly – by “properly” I mean, depending on your travel time. If you are traveling at night in an air conditioned bus, it’s not wise to wear shorts as the air conditioning can get through your bones. If you are traveling by day in an airconditioned, shorts would be great but don’t wear sandos. A light t-shirt would do. If you are traveling in a non airconditioned bus, sandos are still a no-no in my opinion. Just aim to look decent.

4. Jacket or blanket or hanky or face towel – Jacket or blanket if you are traveling in an airconditioned bus. Specially, if you are traveling at night. Hanky and face towel if you are traveling in a non airconditioned bus as it might get hot and sweaty or more like oily at times. Remember, the air may look and smell clean but for sure there are some dirt suspended in it that slams on your face.

5. Spare change – if you want to use the toilets on stop overs as you will be asked about PHP 2 to 5 for the maintenance of the toilets. Now, I were you, make the most out of the toilet. But don’t take too long or you might be left by the bus. We wouldn’t want that now would we?

6. Take note of your bus number – you wouldn’t want that awkward moment when you get in a bus and find that you are in the wrong one right?

7. Bring your own food and water – yes you can get food and water at the stop overs but they are overpriced! Sometimes double! So it would be wise to bring your own.

8. Something to cover your eyes – whether it is shades for day time or patches for the night. Shades because the window shade might not be enough during the day. Eye patches because sometimes, the bus does not close their lights. So if you can’t sleep with the lights on better have something to shade your eyes from the light.

9. Have liniment or ointments or balms or motion sickness medicines ready – specially when you are traveling with kids who have motion sickness issues. It pays to be prepared as some of the roads are winding as it curves in and out of the mountainsides.

10. Enjoy the sights – you will enjoy the Philippine country side I guarantee it.

I hope this helps and encourage you to travel the Philippines on a bus. It would be a nice experience I assure you.
Like in any mode of transport, you just got to enjoy the ride.

Flippin’ out!

Roundup Philippines: A country that has it all

quiti2x:

told you our country, the Philippines is one of the best! take it from him

Originally posted on ESCapology:

El Nido-Nacpan Beach-PhilippinesIt’s been a quiet some time now since I have traveled the Philippines but I never got to write my final roundup. Recently thinking about it, I wasn’t even sure if I should write it at all since it has been so long ago already. But giving it a second thought, I just had to do it. In the end it was the country where I spent the longest time (three months), the country where I found new friends, fellow travelers and locals alike, the country of many adventures and the country with probably the friendliest people I have met. No, not writing this final roundup wouldn’t do this beautiful country and its people justice. A country that has it all and that is probably my favorite country after all.

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