Friday, August 21, 2015

Baler Photodiary: Of Motorbikes and Fish Tacos

When Cesar of Eat, Climb, Travel got in touch with me last May about his backpacking plans to SEA, I immediately told him, "Let's surf in Baler!" Being the eager beaver, I am always more than willing to introduce anyone to surfing, plus I have this [nasty] habit of bringing new friends (boys included) to Baler just to see how they'd fare in a simple, no-frills environment (prissy boys beware).

Of course Cesar was special as he was a family friend (our parents are friends), he's never been to the PH, and I wanted him to experience the best of what our beaches had to offer. And the best thing I can offer is the experience of surfing in Baler.

So we scheduled our departure via Joy Bus on August 13 with Yuri in tow (check out my adventures with Yuri here) and looked forward to the amazing weekend that was laid out in front of us. We had no distinct plan except to surf, eat, and well, go around Baler. Our lodging of choice was of course The Circle Hostel, it was the most comfy and affordable and I was pretty sure Cesar would love the artsy vibe.


On the first day, there weren't any waves so we decided to rent a motorbike at Aliya (Php 400/12 hours) and bike around town. I mentioned that I haven't been to Diguisit Beach which was supposedly part of the blogger tour the next day (Circle was sponsoring a bloggers weekend which Cesar and I were a part of) when Cesar had this brilliant idea: "Let's ditch the tour and just drive to Diguisit today!" Without batting an eyelash I said yes!

Happy fiesta, Baler!
We first passed by the town plaza where we discovered that Baler was set to celebrate their fiesta on August 19, too bad we missed it but nevertheless the city was beautifully decorated with buntings.

So with a map from the Tourism Office (which we later threw away), we drove along the highway away from Sabang and wondered how Diguisit looked like. Thirty minutes later, we still didn't know where we were headed (haha, typical) and had to ask the locals for directions. The good thing is we were pretty much open to anything, if we got lost then fine -- the drive enough made us feel free, and the wind blowing through our hair made us happy.

Impressively, it was only Cesar's second time to drive a motorbike (his first time was in Vietnam) while I've driven motorbikes all my life (thanks again to my Dad). Good job, Cesar!

So we finally reached Diguisit Beach which we later found out was a reef beach. Initially disappointed, we parked our bikes in AMCO Beach Resort and then spotted a freshwater pool smack in the middle of nowhere. Cesar and I looked at each other, and with wide smiles jumped into the pool. Boy, the cool water was a great respite from the heat. The beauty of this side of Baler (which reminded me of Batanes) was too beautiful for words. The place was empty and it was just us and the sea, we wished we could stay here forever.


After Diguisit we drove back to the hostel to pick up Yuri who was so immersed in his Star Wars book. He was craving for Fish Tacos at The Good Food Project and Cesar's eyes lit up at the mention of the word "tacos" -- he had been craving for proper tacos since he left NY!

this is a steal at only Php 60!
I won't lie, the fish tacos here are probably one of the best we've tried. Needless to say, we sort of spent all of our lunches and dinners at The Good Food Project eating tacos, quesadillas, burritos; not to mention their super tender pork ribs and grilled blue marlin, coupled with their sweet buco juice. I salivate just thinking about it.

"I am so drunk from eating so much fish tacos!" Cesar had 3 tacos in just one sitting!


And on the 2nd day, God gave us waves! They weren't ginormous waves but good enough for us newbies to ride. More bloggers also arrived on Saturday which meant more people at Circle (yay!). Our surfboards were courtesy of Kuya Jayson at El Dawn Surfing School (it's about 2 minutes away from Circle). I remember first meeting Kuya Jayson last May on my first visit to Baler and found him slightly annoying because he kept on asking  us to take lessons. Two months later he turned out to be one of the nicest locals I've met who later brought us to other surfing spots (more on that below).

Cesar has good balance so he was able to ride a couple of waves with Charles as his instructor. He fell madly in love with surfing and kept shaking me after, "I get it! I get it! I know why you love surfing! Thank you for bringing me here!"

I swear, a bromance was short of happening here. Hahaha! Cesar was too excited he said we should surf again this afternoon after lunch. I was game, as always! More paddle practice please and I needed to get more toasty :)

Kuya Jayson with his kids

I also met Raf (co-owner of Circle) and he lovingly took this photo of us weirdos beaming with happiness!


On our last day (morning before we were set to leave Baler), Kuya Jayson planned to take us to another surfing spot 30 minutes away from Sabang. Our last hurrah, we stacked all 5 boards on top of the tricycle, brought some snacks and water, squeezed ourselves (there were 5 of us) in, and drove while praying for good waves.

The waters here were crystal clear with 3-4 feet of waves coming in succession. As I was seated on my board waiting for the sets to come in, I could see my feet dangling and thought, "If a shark totally swam past me, I'd bail." Kidding. I was thinking about how so many things in my life somehow brought me to this moment. How in some sort of weird cosmic connection, I was invited to La Union to surf for a day, and everything just snowballed from there.

my arms and shoulders hurt :(
My thoughts interrupted, I looked up to Kuya Jayson who was telling me to paddle so I paddled hard (and possibly like an overeager chihuahua) and caught a wave. The ride was short but I was happy. I surely don't mind doing this for the rest of my life.

Kuya Jayson, Yuri, Me, Charles, Cesar
And now back in Manila, I am getting all emo and stuff. I miss that weekend (my how time flies) as it was probably one of the most memorable surf trips I've had partly because of the people I was with. I cannot wait for the next one, hopefully within the next 2 weeks or so.

Til next time, Baler! Mwah :)


Circle Hostel - 0917-5010235

Kuya Jayson of El Dawn Surfing School - 0946-9116272
Genesis Joy Bus -


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