Choose Philippines (and other enticing songs dedicated to visiting Pinas!)

As i gear up for my upcoming travels (including a regular uwi sa Cebu later this afternoon, the Singapura getaway w/ family on December and the Bicolandia trip next month), i came across these videos specially made to entice foreign and local tourists alike to discover the PHILIPPINES’ hidden wonders that are well worth a visit.

nakaka-indak, napapasayaw ka, and these songs make you CHOOSE the PHILIPPINES and definitely TAKE U TO THE PHILIPPINES, kaya TARA NA BYAHE TAYO!

PILIIN MO ANG PILIPINAS – Angeline Quinto & Vince Bueno [Official MV]

Take U to the Philippines – Apl.De.Ap.

…and the classic…who doesnt know this song or havent heard this in fast crafts and buses during travelling.

WOW Philippines – Biyahe Tayo

The Long and Zigzaging road to (and from) Baler

Laiza’s SMS i recieved 2 hours before our scheduled trip: ‘guys sorry dili ko kakuyog, ingon sila naa daw bagyo and grabe ang lubak sa dalan. sorry kaayo pass lang sa ko.’

anybody who’d receive this kind of message just hours before the trip would go berserk. i had to rely on my quite convincing powers and assure her that there was no storm at all and that the ‘lubak2x na daan’ in Aurora is already history. around 80-90% of the roads leading to Aurora are now concrete. i just had to call her and tell her to pack up fast and we’ll just see each other at the GENESIS Bus Terminal in Cubao, Quezon City. whew! 1 hurdle down.

Off to Baler we go!

all the while i thought this trip is going to be a smooth sailing one. i knew that buses plying the Aurora route doesnt have a 24-hour schedule. they leave Manila the earliest at 12mn, 1am, 2am and the next will be at 430am, 530am and 7am.. since we were on a tight schedule w/ just over the weekend to travel, i planned to take the 12mn bus, early enough for us to have more time to explore Baler in the morning. Much to our dismay, when we arrived at the bus station at around 10pm, the 12MN and the 1AM buses were already full. that left us w/ the 2AM bus as our only choice.

the delux Genesis Bus photo credits:

the catch: there are 2 kinds of buses that ply the route, all under Genesis Bus. its their regular bus (aircon deluxe) w/c is priced at P418. w/ a couple of stop overs, the total travel time is 6 hours. the second one, is the Joy Bus, their executive bus w/c is priced at 650P with no stop overs. travel time is 4 and a half hours. obviously besides the price and the total travel time, one of the major (for me) difference is its comfort. deluxe bus is just like the usual aircon buses that i ride for an hour or less. i was quite unsure if i can handle that kind of ride for 6 hours. too bad the 2am bus is the delux bus. well, for the budget conscious in us, we were left with no choice.

A dam in Nueva VIzcaya

we left Manila at around 145am since the bus was already full, we were still traversing EDSA when i got into deep slumber already. i wasnt really sure how many stop overs we had but the last stop over was in Pantabangan Nueva Ecija (remember the great Pantabangan Dam in our HEKASI class?), the last town before we set foot a part of Nueva Vizcaya and finally the province of Aurora. and yeah before i forget, the zigzag part, roughly an hour, was actually the time when we crossed the Sierra Madre mountain range. Carlo and Rovi got sea sick and had a difficult time sleeping while were driving along the zigzag road. me on the other hand didnt have the slightest recall about it because i was totally asleep, the movement inside the bus didnt wake me at all. we finally arrived in Baler at around 830 AM, my back hurt like hell even if i was asleep most of the time.

our last stop over in Pantabangan Town

The Return Trip

if the ‘to’ trip was a bit of a struggle and adventure, the ‘from’ was the exact opposite. it was seamless, no hassle, no backpains and it felt like we were on a business class flight! mind you we had a lady stewardess instead of a male ‘kundoktor’ (add also the lavatory)! we decided that for the return trip, we must gather enough rest and sleep since we came from a strenuous surfing activity. we decided to take the Joy Bus which only has one trip a day that leaves Baler at 3PM and travels none stop to Manila.

i was only able to sleep when we were already in Cabanatuan so i was able to experience the zigzag road they were raving about. and indeed it was quite a crazy nausea-inducing ride with bags dancing left to right and back. we arrived in Manila at around 7PM and finally touched base in Cubao terminal by around 730PM.

with its perks, olats si cebu pac and airphil

complimentary snacks composed of a cup cake, biscuit and mineral water...not bad!

complimentary morning kit consist of a toothbrush,toothpaste, a soap and a comb

the P650 worth executive couch...

spell comfort... 3 in a row seats

Tips and Figures:

Be Early. usually weekends gather many passengers travelling to Baler and Casiguran so chances are you might have little possibility of getting into the 12mn trip. i asked one traveller who got in the said trip and she told me she was already there as early as 8pm.

Direct Manila to Baler Trip Schedule

Genesis Bus Co.

12mn – Joy Bus (650P)
1am – Mla – Casiguran via Baler (418p)
2am – Mla – Casiguran via Baler (418P)
430am – Joy Bus (650P)
530am – Mla – Casiguran via Baler (418p)
730am – Mla – Casiguran via Baler (418p)

For Manila -Cabanatuan – Baler Trip

there are so many buses plying the Manila – Cabanatuan route so there is no problem in choosing what bus to take. e.g. ES Transport, Genesis, Baliaug Transit, 5 star and other local buses.

Cabanatuan to Baler also has a lot of local buses with dynamic schedules. Vans / Vhires are also available.

Baler to Manila

Now here’s the tricky part, when i asked around Cabanatuan if there are frequent trips coming from Baler, i got quite a number of different answers. one said the latest direct trip from Baler to Cabanatuan was at 3pm and another one told me that its 7pm. just to be safe. i strongly suggest you take the 3PM sole direct trip from baler to Manila to avoid any hassle especially if your going to work the next day. what we did was when we arrived, we immediately went to the ‘Genesis garahe’ and looked for the dispatcher and convinced him to reserve us our seats for our return trip. we even offerd him to pay in advance so that we can choose our seats. luckily he agreed. actually when we got into the garahe there were already 3 passengers who reserved their own seats for the 3pm trip.

drink Bonamin. if you get sea sickness when travelling, trust me, the zigzag road was like a theme park ride

Genesis Contact Nos.

Telephone Number: Cubao (02) 4211413 Pasay (02) 8533115

Riding (and loving) the waves of BALER – part 1 of my Baler adventure series

Its not how many times you fall that matters, its how many times you rise up from that fall that counts. – a ‘gasgas’ cliche we always hear yet its completely applicable to the world of surfing.

insert background music: miley's the climb...i can almost see it...

last weekend i was again at the peak of my ‘beach bum’ element as I and 3 of my college and travel buddies Rovi, Laiza and Carlo went on to fulfill another adventure in our bucket list – surfing in Baler.

w/ surfer buddies ...naks!

Baler is an emerging destination for local and foreign tourists. by word of mouth it has slowly paved its way in the list of must see places in the country, surfing is a huge contributor to that. add also the historical value of this town for being the birthplace of the country’s only commonwealth president, Pres. Manuel Quezon and home to the political clan of the Angara’s (they deserve the credit for promoting Baler and the province as a whole). it probably also has the biggest number of surfing community in the country numbering to about 30 to 50 surfers. they are also the ones who tutor surfing enthusiasts who frequent the place.

the waves of Baler

because of the intense excitement to finally hop on that surf board and ‘do’ the huge waves of Sabang Cove, i might have to apologize that i had to forgo the other attractions that this quaint little town (and the province of Aurora in general) offer specifically the waterfalls and the largest balete tree (they say in Asia) in the adjacent town of Maria Aurora. please do refer to Sinjin’s for his more in depth feature on Baler. we only had the weekend for this trip so the slight mix up with the itinerary caused us a huge chunk of our time thus the failure to visit the said attractions. for redemption purposes though, i have alloted the second part of this series for the other places in Baler we visited.

many think, including me, that surfing is one heck of an extreme sport. the ‘dare devil’ factor is high and that it sometimes equate itself to either injury or even drowning. it gave me such thought- maybe, just maybe, if there’s one extreme sport i can handle, i guess its surfing. for one, i know how to swim and for two i dont mind drinking liters of sea water. my being a beach bum is nothing if i dread the taste of salty sea water.

the mid afternoon sun coupled with the sound of the crashing medium sized waves in Sabang Beach was a classic hit for us that we wasted no time and hit the beach in our (at least for me) most stylish board shorts. finally my board shorts was used fit to its REAL purpose. lol.

thanks to maui and sons for the board shorts

the training, (actually it was just a briefing) only took 2 mins. for basic surfing there are only 3 steps, the ‘ready’ the ‘position’ and finally the ‘go’ -meaning you have to do the whole balancing act thing which if you master, gives you the right to be ma-angas and covets you with that rightful surfer dude look! when we were done, i was like ‘yun na po ba yun?’ then my trainor, in the name of Arnel told me ‘opo kuya, mas mahirap pa po ang skimboarding kaysa surfing.’ so what happend to the extreme part of it? oh well, better try it first hand. the next thing i knew i was already in knee deep waters but waist deep waves, oh i thought this was easy…


‘maling akala’– perfect!, what i thought was easy and doable was actually the exact opposite of it. it took me 30 mins to even stand at the board. and i withstood it for roughly … 3 steps, and well, i fell off right after.

as they say practice makes perfect. it took me about an hour more to finally look ‘stable’ on top of a board. i pretty much got addicted to it that the whole surfing experience took me 3 hours before i said ‘ok, its a wrap….malufet!!!’ arnel thought me a couple of tricks from walking/balancing on top of the board, to how to u-turn when waves are coming and paddling among others. but he told me that the most important thing in surfing is you must get to know the waves. as a surfer, one must know how to make ‘kilatis’ the waves. unfortunately though this was the hardest part and we werent able to perfect the skill. he said it will take me about at least a day more of intense training to finally get the hang out of it.

see the nag mama-angas photos below….lufet!

it was already around 6pm when we got out of the water to watch the famous Baler sunset. much to our dismay, this place is also a ‘stop over’ of heavy clouds and thunderstorms that we again failed to see the sun bid farewell for the day. we ended up sitting on the beach front, with a bottle of RH and in silence trying to absorb what just happened earlier…or maybe we were starting to feel the body pains already that moving in and around (and even talking) was already a struggle.

rovi is loving my surf board...

laiza 'was' excited until...haha!

post surfing analysis w/ carlo

i got injured in my left ankle by the way…but still…it was one heck of ‘MALUFET’!!!!

tips and figures:

surfng lessons w/ surfboard rental is at 350P per hour

surfing school is located at the beach front of Bay’s Inn

surfing lessons come w/ a FREE bottle of water or softdrinks.

surfing trainors are really a kind bunch, if only i have the extra bucks i would have invited them over a drinking spree after lol.

surfing doesnt necessarily need any requirements, for beginners even if non-swimmers pwede.

skim boaards are also available for rent at 100P per hour but no tutorial

the best time to go to Baler for surfing is of course summertime to make the most out of the summer heat (thus the absence of ocassional rainshowers and thunderstorms w/c i dont like when travelling on a beach destination). BUT the waves are still the same even on none-peak seasons such as August.

you can learn basic surfing in half a day, but if you really wanna LEARN it, save 2 days.


more details of the Baler trip on the second part..coming up next!