It’s time to put this unassuming province in your radar as it emerges with picturesque attractions and warm locals ready to inspire wanderlust in you.
Strength. Might. Comeback. The province of Aurora has always been associated with these words. Its relentless tussle against raging waves and typhoons has always topped headlines and breaking news. If Aurora was a real person, it would most likely sweep everyone or everything that comes its way. But such valor brings no surprise though, as it faces east—with strong tides from the Pacific Ocean that constantly challenge the character of the province.
Named after Manuel Quezon’s wife Aurora Aragon, the province boasts not only of its beautiful but rough seas, but also of the several historical and natural landmarks that it has under its belt. Two of its municipalities, Baler and Casiguran, are some of the many places in Aurora that can give tourists countless spots to marvel at. Its unassuming beauty will exceed any traveler’s expectations.
A mere mention of this place and one is immediately filled with scenes from a Filipino film of the same name, one that has contributed a huge deal in promoting tourism to this municipality. Baler, however, offers so much more than what was depicted on the big screen, as proven by its growing fame for the past few years.
Probably the biggest tourist draw of Baler is Sabang Beach, a well-known spot for surfers, pro and beginners alike. This beach goes on top of the recommended places to dance your longboards in, not only because of its Pacific waves, but also because of its great accessibility to travelers. This over two-kilometer beach may not have pristine white sands that can rival other known beach destinations in the country, but its to-die-for sunrise and waves beautifully complementing each other truly make Sabang one of the best places to spend mornings in. If you are not so much into surfing, just take a walk on the shore’s end-to-end to fully enjoy the beach.
Ditumabo Mother Falls
A nearly hour-long hike rewards you with the breathtaking sight of Ditumabo Mother Falls, the tallest waterfall in Aurora, and one of Baler’s greatest highlights. Standing fifty meters high, Ditumabo Falls cascades down a 30-meter wide basin that provides a natural cold swimming pool—the perfect spot to take a dip into after the somewhat tiring trek. Whatever time you prefer to hike there, even at its hottest, the cool waters of Ditumabo will not disappoint.
The jump-off point of the falls is located a tricycle ride away from Nueva Ecija-Baler road at Barangay Ditumado, about 15 kilometers away from Sabang Beach. From there, the hike trail to the falls stretches over two kilometers.
Aside from Sabang Beach and Ditumabo Mother Falls, there are several other attractions in Baler that you should not miss. If you’re a history buff, recount the town’s past in Baler Church and Museo de Baler. If you’d like to add more beauty to your Instagram feed, take shots of the scenic Diguisit Rock Formations and Ermita Hill, with the latter offering a magnificent view of the entire Aurora province. If you crave adventure, enjoy biking to Dicasalarin cove—the white-sand beach attraction in Baler—or feel the rush while scaling the century old sixty-foot Millennium Tree— the biggest balete tree in the country.
Casiguran is perhaps the place in Aurora that can best symbolize the strength of the province amidst the destructive typhoons that come its way. Just last year, the impact of Typhoon “Lando” (international name Koppu) was felt in Casiguran the strongest, with several trees and structures wiped out. It took months for the locals to somehow recuperate, and up until now, the town is still on its way to complete recovery. The journey to this municipality is probably not as easy as in Baler, given that it’s on the far northern part of Aurora, but a glimpse of it will leave you in awe—it will make you realize that definitely, something that’s naturally beautiful can never be taken down by disasters and calamities.
If there is one thing this little town could probably put in their tourism portfolio, it’s the beautiful warm people of the Agta or Aeta tribe that live in it. They will welcome you with smiles that can easily take the weariness out of the long journey, and even perform their special entertaining tribal dance. Although small in population, the Agtas have been able to sustain Dipontian, and even got themselves their own little primary school. Despite the recent typhoon that smashed their town, the unity of this community is truly inspiring, one that you can hardly find anywhere else in the country.
Hands down one of the most scenic spots in the Philippines, Dalugan Beach is the epitome of unspoiled beauty. A grueling five-hour trip from Baler—with van, boat, and motorbike rides involved—takes you to this striking spot in Aurora. Turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean, the lush forests of San Ildefonso mountain range, and the violent waves (twice stronger than in Sabang Beach) dancing gracefully with the beautiful rock formations positioned along the shoreline—these are some of the magnificent views that will greet you as soon as you step out of your motorbike. Though off-thebeaten, many believe that its charm lies in its hurdle of a journey.