Showing posts with label San Luis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label San Luis. Show all posts

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Aurora: Surfing, kayaking, rappelling, mountain biking and more Aurora adventure activities

Rappelling down Digisit FallsAurora is poised to become a major adventure destination in the coming months. More than just the surfing in Baler, which is already very popular, the province of Aurora has even more activities to offer.

During our first day, we went rappelling at Ermita Hill courtesy of the Aurora Tourism Office. What's good about the rappelling activity is that you can contact them for whole-day or half-day rappelling set-ups anywhere in Baler and its environs. In fact, the Ermita Hill rope down turned out to be a preview of an even more exciting descent.

Before going back to Manila, we rappelled down Digisit Falls which is also in Baler. That was quite an adventure. In fact, it was more of a challenge climbing up than rappelling down. Again, I regret not bringing my trekking sandals since my shoes ended up dripping wet! But it was fun!

Kayaking in BalerAnother activity you might want to try in Aurora is kayaking. The river system is clean and the views picturesque which makes the ride all the more pleasant. The Aurora Adventure Center not only has kayaks for rent. You can opt for an adrenaline rush by jetskiing.

Take note that their core offering is scuba diving. Maybe it's the first time you've heard of diving in Aurora. But the Philippines' Pacific side, particularly Aurora, is fast becoming a popular dive destination, especially during the southwest monsoon.

Trekking to Ditumabo FallsAnd since it's located in the heart of the magnificent yet fragile Sierra Madre Mountains, the hiking and trekking possibilities are endless. We got to visit Ditumabo Falls which is an easy trek from the National Highway. But for those who want to take it to the next level, the lush forests of the Sierra Madre provide a refreshing backdrop to more challenging mountain trails.

In fact, the forest cover of Aurora is still at 78 percent (and I hope it remains that way) with a high concentration of plants and wildlife, and a lot of endemic species. So aside from hiking, nature lovers could go birdwatching or deer or wild boar tracking.

Surfing lessons in BalerOf course, when in Baler, make sure to take surfing lessons. Said to be the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines, Baler is a great place to learn surfing. You can easily arrange surfing lessons with your hotel or with the help of the tourism office.

But for the pros, Baler can offer more than just beginner waves. Which is why it's a popular destination even for foreign surfers.

Off-road driving is also becoming very popular. Traverse Aurora's rugged terrain and it's many off road trails which include Dibut, Dibutunan, Dicadi, Dikildit and Diteki. There's also mountain biking, caving and spelunking, rock climbing and orienteering. You can also go whale shark watching (it's closer to Metro Manila than Donsol, Sorsogon) or interacting with the sea cows. Also in the pipeline are white water tubing and a zip line. Indeed, Aurora is the next province to keep an eye on! One destination... endless adventure!

Aurora Tourism Office

Aurora Adventure Center

Part 1: Road trip to Baler and Ditumabo Falls in San Luis, Aurora

Related entries
Unspoiled nature in Aurora
More summer fun in Baler

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Aurora: Road trip to Baler and Ditumabo Falls in San Luis, Aurora

Aurora is a rough and wild adventure for now. While there are still several kilometers of rough unpaved road to get to this Pacific paradise, hopefully in the next two years, the roads will be fully-paved. But if you have a 4x4 or are fine with bus rides, then it's about time you pack your bags for Aurora!

Said to be the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines, Aurora is more than just surfing as we found out during our recent trip. But as soon as we arrived in Baler, we checked in at the Bahia de Baler 2 and dozed off for the rest of the morning. After some afternoon meetings, we went rappelling at Ermita Hill (I'll tell everyone more about the rappelling in Aurora in my next post) which was quite an activity.

The next day, we visited Ditumabo Falls in the town of San Luis. The jump-off point is right by the Ditumabo Bridge. The trekking time to the falls depends on how far your 4x4 can drive. If you're taking a jeep, you trek starts at the National Highway. Some vehicles can go as far as the first stream. We were able to go beyond the first stream and parked before reaching the second. From there, it's a 30 to 45-minute walk to the falls.

Make sure you were the proper hiking shoes. Trekking sandals would be best since there are several more river crossings before you actually get the the falls. There are also several smaller falls along the way. But the mother falls, which is another name they use for Ditumabo Falls, is nothing less than magnificent!

The water was really cold and very refreshing for a swim. I'm sure you could chill a can of beer or softdrinks there. Make sure to bring back your garbage with you and keep the waterfall area clean. You could also do our environment a great service by picking up any plastic wrapper you see along the way.

We had to rush back to Baler for a lunch meeting. But we first visited the centuries-old Balete Tree in Maria Aurora, one of the oldest trees in the entire country. You can climb up the tree both inside and out. Inside, the roots have created a hollow cavern all the way to the top. In fact, you can also rappel from there.

Related entries
Unspoiled nature in Aurora
More summer fun in Baler

Where to stay in Baler, Aurora
Bahia de Baler
Buton Street, Sitio Labasin
Brgy. Sabang, Baler
+63 916 7701980
+63 928 6875424

How to get to Baler, Aurora
Genesis Transport Bus is the only direct bus service to Baler from Metro Manila. Their terminal is along EDSA in Pasay City. You may call +632 5510842 or +632853-3115 for inquiries. Remember that their buses leave only in the morning. If you plan an afternoon trip you'll have to take a bus to Cabanatuan and hop on a van to Baler and vice versa. Last trip is between 4 to 6 p.m. so make sure you're at the terminal before 4 p.m.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Pampanga: Visita iglesia to Pampanga churches

When I was still City Tourism Officer of San Fernando, Pampanga, I lamented the fact that the beautiful churches of Pampanga were not given the attention they truly deserve during the Holy Thursday visita iglesia tours. Well, I can say that today that Pampanga is hot on the visita iglesia map!

On top of the list is the Betis Church in Guagua. A National Cultural Treasure, the church is called the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines because of its wall to ceiling mural paintings and its ornate wooden retablo.

You can start your visita iglesia in Lubao Church, the oldest church in Pampanga. From the San Fernando Exit of the NLEX, just drive westward to Lubao. After Lubao, drive eastward along the Jose Abad Santos Highway (Gapan-Olongapo Road) and look for the junction to Sta. Rita town on the left to visit the Sta. Rita Church. After there, you can drive to the Guagua Church, and then to Betis Church.

After Betis, drive along the old National Highway until you reach Bacolor Church. Once the biggest church in Pampanga, it is now half-buried under lahar. But that did not damped the pride of the town in their heritage since they dug up the wonderful retablos and restored them.

After Bacolor, continue your drive along the old National Highway until you reach San Fernando. You'll know you're in San Fernando when you see the chimneys of PASUDECO, the Pampanga Provincial Capitol, and the wonderful ancestral mansions along Consunji Street. Since Holy Thursday is also Araw ng Kagitingan, you might want to make a stopover at the San Fernando Train Station, an important Death March landmark.

Anyway, you'll be able to find the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Fernando really easily. The current interior of the Cathedral was designed by Architect Fernando Ocampo after the church burned down a second time in 1939.

Since you are already in San Fernando, you can have your lunch stop there and try out the great restaurants that serve some of the best Kapampangan fare.

From San Fernando, drive south along MacArthur Highway to the Minalin Church and Apalit Church. Then at the San Simon Interchange, cross above the NLEX eastward to get to the San Luis Church and further on, the Arayat Church. Along the way, you'll see the old facade of the Sta. Ana Church. However, its interior is heavily renovated.

If there's not enough time, you can go straight to Angeles Church north of San Fernando. From there, you could drive to Porac which has two old chapels worth visiting, the Pio Chapel and Hacienda Dolores Chapel. Pio is a bit more accessible. But it's quite a drive to Hacienda Dolores.

You can end your day with dinner in the Clark Freeport area which has a wonderful selection of international cuisine for all. Well, if your stomach is up to it, you can keep on eating in between churches since every town has its own specialty! A visita iglesia in Pampanga is definitely a feast for mind, body and soul!

Related entries
Visita iglesia to our heritage churches
Pisamban... the churches of Pampanga
Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia and more Holy Week practices in the Philippines
Visita iglesia routes for Holy Thursday
Related Posts with Thumbnails