Assembly was in Pampanga. Since I was the only one coming from Manila, I had to be there Saturday. Going to Baler is an eight-hour road trip from Angeles City, Pampanga. We hit the road on a Sunday morning, at 2 a.m. Having few hours of sleep, I had a perfect plan, to sleep the whole stretch off. It was just normal for me on long road trips, so this was what I did. It was actually working had it not been for ‘s occasional hollering, “Ms. M. Wake up. Take care of your lungs. Wake up,” meaning, time to smoke. And that I heard on our first stop, Cabanatuan.
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I don’t know how long it was to reach the first town of Aurora Province from Cabanatuan. All I know when I opened my eyes again was that we were going slow. I think we have already entered Baler (don’t know much about geography, though). Since the road was built from the slope of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges going up, it’s not unusual that it was very steep and the zigzag seemed endless.
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The roads to going to Bicol and to Baguio are nothing compared to Sierra Madre’s anaconda-type roads. And that just made our trip more exciting. It was quite an obstacle, though, on some portions because the road was rough and rocky let alone under construction due to Typhoon Ondoy in 2009. Judging from it being muddy and wet, it must have rained hard.
Occasional jolts and swerving, lots of going up and down, made it impossible to be sound asleep. That’s how our trip went. Despite there being no electricity at all — I don’t even remember if there was lamppost at all — we manage to look through the window to see what it was like out there in the dark and to think it was almost dawn. The only light on the road were the van’s pair of headlights.
Since there were a lot of inclines, there was a portion on the road that we have to get off the van because the vehicle was stuck while going up on a steep incline. There were 12 of us and we were quite heavy, so we walked a few good hundred yards of muddy, rocky road. We can feel the cool breeze being high up on the mountains on an early morning. Then as we continued to walk, the sun started to rise and lightened up the sky.
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Specifically, I couldn’t tell you what time; but it was sunrise, if you can call it that. The view was perfect with all the foggy mountaintops at eye level. Looking below, the cliffs were just fantastic. This also gave us the opportunity to see how high up we really were. With nature and all its complexities, never mind how dangerous the trip was on the mountains — drive with care, though — the sight was just awesome.
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Finally, low lands, Sitio Bulos. We had to stop at some place for coffee or breakfast. And, again, Jay Jay was yelling, “Ms. M, take care of your lungs. Let’s have coffee.” As we were trying to find a place at least a small eatery where we can pee or use the bathroom, I chanced upon a small sari-sari store.
I got in; but before I could even ask for a place to eat, my eyes were caught by pieces of Narra furniture on display — dining table for four, a Cleopatra chair, a couch bed and a china cabinet — for sale at really cheap prices. Anyway, wishful thinking was good enough. And we were directed by the furniture shop owner that there’s one we could go a few meters ahead.
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We hit the road again to head to our destination. Since it was drizzling, we had to postpone plans of going to Ditumabo for the next day. I thought going steep climbs on the mountain range was over; but, surprisingly, it was not. Only shorter this time, though, and at least the road was paved. Seemingly noticeable about Dinadiawan, I don’t think public transportation buses still reach this place. I didn’t see any on the way there. But I tell you, streets are very clean so is the air!
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Around 11 a.m., we were in Sitio Bulos, Purok 1, Barangay Dinadiawan, Dipaculao, Aurora Province. We scouted for a place to stay, but some of the resorts out there were fully booked. We were lucky to find one, the 88 .
It is not as big compared to the others, but one thing I admired the most about this place was it was cheap and very clean. So after a few haggles with the owners, Kuya Rudolfo Villaluz and Ate Puring, we decided to stay the night there and prepare for the second day of our adventure, hiking to the Mother Falls.
The room cost PhP2,500 and could house at least 15 people. It has a loft good for another 15 people. Since we had the resort to ourselves, we rented the function area with a videoke at PhP500. There are cottages which they also rent at PhP500, shower rooms in the back and a number of restrooms in strategic places.
A big kitchen with a freezer to store our food for another PhP500; however, gas range not allowed — just kidding — actually, expect a provincial setting, cook with firewood supplied by the owners. Utensils were also made available for us to use. Buco was free as welcome compliments from the couple.
As soon as we were settled, the others found themselves sleeping after lunch; while some of us enjoyed the beach; and some enjoyed singing, dancing and getting drunk.
By the way, the only cell phone provider in Aurora Province is Smart. In case you may want to go Maharlika 88 Beach Resort, you can call Kuya Rudolfo Villaluz at 999-961-3449 or Ate Puring at 930-541-1513. Not only that you will love the place, you’ll love the couple, as well.
THE BUDGET: PhP 20,000 for 10 people
Rent for van two days with driver PHP 10,000