August 30, 2015

Baler: Of Gigantic Trees and Mother Falls

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Photos © Kai Ochosa

Apart from its extensive coastal stretches, frequented by surfers and plain beach bums, people often come to Baler for a glimpse of the majestic Ditumabo Falls (Mother Falls). I can count the number of times I've been to Baler. It's not one of my favorite places, though I really can't tell why. Unlike San Juan, Baler just doesn't hit the spot for me. But since my really good friends invited me to join their team building and they had a whole "Best of Baler" itinerary planned and all, I decided to tag along. It was my chance to finally explore Baler apart from the Surf.

It was also my first time to actually see Baler. I choose to sleep along the way cause of the nauseating car ride. But I never knew it was a scenic drive, especially the one on the way to the Falls, where the road is lined with coconut trees that seem to bow down as you drift past them. From my estimate, I would say that we parked to the closest trail to the falls. And I'm glad we did because it was one exhaustive trek. Going there on a long weekend was hell.  

It's funny cause I always had the impression that it would be a wuss of a trail but boy was I wrong. It was longer, trickier, and more mentally challenging than I had expected. It was rocky and wet and steep, but doable. What actually made it difficult was the influx of tourists that was like our own personal stimulant. You had to keep pushing and going to avoid getting caught in the crowd of sticky and stinky long weekenders. The view was refreshing though, and was the consolation for a stressful journey because the destination itself wasn't rewarding as well. Getting to the falls was like looking for a bargain in Divisoria. It was a pool of piss and sweat (washed off from the previous trek). I was so turned off that I didn't even attempt to get into the water. I'd like to come back for a better and purer view, minus the photo bombers. Good thing we found a mini falls in the side.

Before finally heading back to Manila, we stopped over the 600 year old Balete tree, which by the way was really, really huge. I would've wanted to climb it like my friends did previously, but there's a new "No climbing policy". Bummer. But, hey, at least our guide was the funniest most technologically savvy guide I've met in my life.  I actually learned a couple of iPhone tricks from him. He was hilarious. 

We missed Dicasalarin Cove, but I'll save that for another trip!