March 30, 2017

Discover Aurora

IMG_2542Welcome to the beautiful Province of Aurora. Aurora is located in Central Luzon. It has 8 equally beautiful municipalities. Baler, its capital, San Luis, Maria Aurora, Dipaculao, Dinalungan, Casiguran, Dilasag, and Dingalan.
It's been a common misconception that Aurora is still part of the Quezon Province. Not anymore. It was in 1979 when Aurora was officially granted a Provincial status. The province was named after the former First Lady Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon.
Aurora has also produced some of the most prominent names in the field of politics and entertainment. Manuel Luis Quezon, the President of the Philippine Commonwealth, will always be one of the favorite sons of the province. We also have former Senator Edgardo Angara and his son, Senator Sonny Angara. And of course, the award winning actor, Heneral Luna's John Arcilla.

Every February 19, Aurora celebrates its founding anniversary. It is also the birth anniversary of Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon. So, if you're IN for an awesome nature adventure, be sure to #DiscoverAurora now.

1. Baler


Baler is the capital of Aurora Province and its oldest municipality. The name "baler" is said to have originated from "balod," a type of mountain pigeon. Baler is the second most populous town and the densest in Aurora although it is the smallest in terms of land area. It is also where President Manuel L. Quezon and his wife, Dona Aurora Aragon, hail from.

2. Casiguran
casapsapan beach casiguranCasiguran is one of the three northern towns collectively known as the 'Dicadi' area, which stands for Dinalungan-Casiguran-Dilasag. Among the three, Casiguran is the most populous town and is often considered the northern capital of Aurora. Casiguran is the most developed town in Dicadi, boasting an airport, a full-scale hospital and white sandy beaches.
3. Dilasag
dilasag canawer
Dilasag is the northernmost municipality of Aurora Province. Being the farthest town from Metro Manila, it is largely undeveloped. Its beauty lies in its natural attractions: a long, unspoiled coastline, highlighted by fine, white-sand beaches. This quaint town is ideal for visitors longing for an escape into idyllic environs.
4. Dinalungan
Dinalungan is the least populous municipality in Aurora. It is bound by the Dinalungan River, Dinadiawan Creek and Casiguran Sound. While surrounded by water, the town is nestled in the mountains, making for excellent hikes that afford spectacular views of the ocean.
5. Dingalan
Aurora Province not Aurora Quezon
Dingalan is the nearest municipality to Metro Manila, and the southernmost town of Aurora. The Sierra Madres separate Dingalan from the rest of the province.A portion of Barangay Umiray in Dingalan was proclaimed in January 2000 as a Special Economic Zone by President Joseph Estrada. It forms part of the Pacific Coast City Ecozone that also includes areas located in Barangay Umiray in Gen. Nakar, Quezon. The ecozone is destined to be a world-class resort and investment haven.
6. Dipaculao
Dipaculao is the northernmost town of the central sub-region of Aurora. Its land area is a long strip that offers a stunning vista from any vantage point. Dipaculao is bound by the Pacific Ocean to the east and by virgin forests of the Sierra Madres Mountain Range to the west. Traveling along the Dipaculao highway, one is smitten by the sublime contrast of breezes from the Pacific Ocean and sylvan zephyrs from the Sierra Madres. The town's waterfalls and natural springs offer a pleasing respite from the scenic drive.
7. Maria Aurora
Maria Aurora is the most populous municipality in Aurora. It is the only non-coastal town in the Province and is largely a mountainous area. One of its barangays, Villa Aurora, is situated right by the Aurora Memorial National Park, which encompasses most of the Baler-Bongabon Highway and the Sierra Madres forests around it. Tourists flock to the town to visit the famous Millennium Tree.
8. San Luis
San Luis is the largest municipality in Aurora and the home of Baler Airport. San Luis is the first town one happens upon after traveling through the Aurora National Memorial Park. Like Dipaculao, San Luis welcomes visitors with a dazzling array of waterfalls and natural spring pools.
Credits: Photos for Casiguran, Dilasag, and Dingalan were obtained from the Aurora PH website.

Colors of Baguio

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"Summer Breeze, makes me feel fine!"
I recently had a sweet escape in the Summer Capital of the Philippines, Baguio City. I booked a ticket online at the Victory Liner website for a 5 am trip, it was priced at P495 (including seat selector fee). At around 10:30 am, I arrived in the city. Prior to the trip, I've been able to book my hotel through TravelBookPH, I chose Chalet Baguio Hotel, and I got it at a bargain price.

The hotel staff were very accommodating and helpful (as I had a problem with my hotel booking), they let me check in as early as 10:30 am. They have unlimited coffee supply at the reception which you can also bring in your room. After I was able to freshen up, I went out for lunch. I opted to just walk around the city. SM Baguio is just 15 minutes away from the hotel. Although it's almost noon time, the weather was still cool.

On my way back to the hotel, I had a light lunch at Cafe by the Ruins, Dua. I tried out their Strawberry Italian Soda (P120), Cafe Leche Flan (P70) , and their Classic Tomato-Basil Pasta (220). They all tasted good but I love the Strawberry Soda the most. It's so refreshing and you can eat them fresh strawberries.
The cafe is just a 5 minute walk to the hotel. I rested for a bit and waited for my friend to arrive from La Union. At around 3pm, we did a quick tour in the city. We first went to SM Baguio, then crossed over to the Our Lady of the Atonement Cathedral and heard an anticipated mass.
We proceeded to the crowded Burnham Park. I find it rather fascinating. I'm loving the weather even more, it was getting colder as the beautiful sun sets.

Our hungry tummy brought us to the 50's Diner's branch in Session Road. It is located in the 4th Floor of a certain mall. They have a big serving of food. So big it won't fit in their plate. I had Guys On The Hood (P130). It's a combination of pork chop, slice pizza, chicken, spaghetti and garlic bread, served with fries and vegetable. It tasted okay nothing extra ordinary. Tired from all the walking we rode a cab from SM to Chalet hotel for only P45. We slept early as we have a hectic schedule the next day.
Chalet hotel offered a buffet breakfast instead of the plated one that day. I sampled all of their food offerings except the beef dishes (I don't eat beef). They all tasted good. I wouldn't know for sure but I guess Dulcinea caters the buffet and regular breakfast.
9 am. We hailed a taxi that brought us to Bell Church and the new attraction, Colors of Stobosa. They are just 3-5 minutes away from each other. Fare is 85 pesos. They are located in the boundary of La Trinidad and Baguio City. There are no entrance fees for both sites.

When you're are at the Bell Church, please be mindful of their rules and regulations. It is a Taoist Temple.

These colorful houses in Stobosa amazed me. I only wish that they have a proper viewing deck so tourists won't interrupt the people in the community.
BenCab Museum
Our next destination was the BenCab Museum. The taxi driver offered a P500 fare from La Trinidad to the museum and back. He gave us an hour to explore the place. Entrance fee is P120.

We also tried Cafe Isabel. I ordered a Pesto Pasta (P200) and a Fresh Strawberry Shake (P150).

Our taxi brought us back to the hotel. I opted to leave my bag as there still some spots we would love to visit. We had lunch at Chocolate de Batirol in Camp John Hay. I tried their Batirol Special Drink (P160) and their famous Turon (P90 for 3 pcs).
From Camp John Hay, we rode another taxi to bring us to Mines View Park. We made sure to try out their Igorot costume for only P20 with unlimited picture taking. Before ending the trip, we went to Good Shepherd for some Ube and Strawberry Jam. They are priced at P210 (12oz) and P190 (8oz).
I've been to Baguio a lot of times already. But this was the first time I did a DIY style trip. We chose to ride taxi instead of regular commuting because we have limited time only. I took my bag from the hotel and boarded a 4:30 pm bus bound for Manila. I will sure be back again. Prolly next year and explore more of what Baguio has to offer.