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The Town of Baler in Aurora, the Philippines

PHILIPPINES | Friday, 22 May 2015 | Views [127] | Scholarship Entry

Situated on the northeastern coast of the Philippines, Baler has been steadily attracting surfers of all ages for some time now. The most popular surf spot, Sabang Beach, is now lined with a number of hotels to support the spike in tourism.

The huge waves of the Pacific Ocean are what drive adventurous spirits to brave the long, winding and mostly steep journey through the mountain range, in alternating paved and rough roads, in order to satisfy their thirst for the sun and waves.

So what then powered the drive within a non-surfer like me to take my wife on a slightly uncomfortable ride to Baler? I would say it was the thought of finally discovering a new wonder to love as we both got tired and bored of our travels to the same places every year.

Upon reaching the town after a long six-hour drive, we immediately felt there was more to it beyond the towering and roaring waves of the Pacific. The roads, structures and walls, even the people's demeanor, tell of something beaming with so much history and tradition.

Sabang Beach was just our starting point. In a matter of minutes, we found our way to Ermita Hill, one of Baler's most historic spots. It was where locals sought refuge when a tsunami washed out the entire old town in 1735.

In 1798, it again played a vital role in saving lives as locals fled to the hill to hide from pirates who invaded the coastal areas. Now, it stands proud as a true beacon of life, offering a picturesque view of Baler from approximately forty meters above sea level.

We also paid a visit to San Luis Obispo de Tolosa Church where the infamous Siege of Baler took place. Although it could have been a better experience had the town officials retained the hispanic look of the church, still there's no denying the fact that this was where hundreds of Filipinos fought for their independence against Spanish troops more than a century ago.

Seeing all these pieces of history blend harmoniously with modern day activities the town has to offer, it would be quite difficult not to fall in love with the historic and majestic gem that is Baler.

And after a long day of exploring the town and reconnecting with history, nothing beats relaxing to the sound of the waves while enjoying the sight of surfers conquering the might of the great Pacific Ocean.

Tags: 2015 Writing Scholarship

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