Baler Bay Aurora Province

Aurora Province at a Glance

The province is part of the Central Luzon region or Region III. It is bounded by Pacific Ocean in the east, Quezon and Bulacan in the south; Nueva Vizcaya and Nueva Ecija in the west; and Quirino and Isabela in the north. The province is link to the island of Luzon through the road that is found between Bongabon of Nueva Ecija and Baler.

The land area of the province is just about one percent of the total land area of the Philippines. Its land area is 323,954 hectares. The province is predominantly a mountainous area since it covers the eastern part of Sierra Madre Mountains although it has its coastlines too that stretch to 332 kilometers.

Climate

Aurora’s location makes it prone for typhoons since it faces Pacific Ocean in the east thus storms are common phenomena in this province. Rainfall often occurs months October, November, January, February and April. Its driest month is August.

This province experience two major wind currents. Wind from easterly direction experiences during the months of November to April and for the rest of the year the wind comes from the southwesterly direction. For the record the average yearly wind speed is four knots.

Average monthly temperature is 25.3 degrees Celsius with its coldest months in January to February with temperature 19.3 to 20.4 degrees Celsius while warmest months are from June to July with temperature reaching up to 33 degrees Celsius.

Education

Public School is what dominates in the province. It has a total of twenty-eight primary and elementary schools. Twenty-five high schools and only one State College. They also have private school although they are less in number. They have twenty five elementary and high school and three private colleges. Base on record of the Department of Education, The province has shown literacy rate of 94.54% year 2000.

Health Care

Health care in the province is predominantly served by government hospitals. The province has four government hospitals serving the locals of Dingalan, Maria Aurora, Casiguran and Baler. Aside from the four hospitals they have forty-four Barangay health stations which are in the central municipalities. Each municipality of the province has its own health center which supports the hospitals in delivering medical assistance to all the Barangays in the province.

To date the province has a total workforce under the supervision of the Department of Health Provincial Health Office which includes nineteen Physicians, nine Dentists, four medical technologists, twenty-four nurses, fifty-two midwives, two pharmacists, one nutritionist/dietician, nine sanitary inspectors, one sanitary engineer and two health inspectors.

Entertainment and Recreation

Various recreational facilities are in the province and are often found in the municipality of Dingalan and Maria Aurora. The most common recreational activities are volleyball and basketball facilities. There are also pool halls available.

The most famous past time for men in the province is cockfighting. Lots of locals from northern part of the province as well as the central part come to San Luis and Baler just to enjoy this sport.

You can also find movie theaters but they only have two operating as per record as of 1988. These two theaters are found in the municipalities of Maria Aurora and Baler, Dipaculao.

Peace & Order

Peace and Order is maintained by three Philippine National Police Forces. These forces are stationed at Maria Aurora, Casiguran and Baler. Also each municipality has its own police headquarters.

Infrastructure

Roads. The province has a total road network of 1,287.7 kilometers and seventy-five percent of this road is gravel surfaced, ten percent of it is concrete, one percent asphalt and the rest is just earth surfaced roads.

Roads that are gravel surfaced and earth roads are very hard to pass during the rainy season. Most of these roads are found in the mountainous area and this area is prone to landslides. Most roads lack the right drainage and ditches thus do not be surprise if you find lots of water in the roadway. On the other hand coastal roads along the Baler-Casiguran Road are quite hard to pass through because its road surface is made of fine sand.

Port Network. There are six ports, four of which are municipal ports you can find in Casiguran and Baler and the other two are private ports.

Air Transport System. You can find four feeder airports, two of which are private landing strips where one is an airfield and the other one is an airstrip. The airfield is named Dr. Juan C. Angara Airport and is at San Luis in Baler. SEAIR flies in this airport twice a week.

Water/Electricity. The most common source of water supply in the province is pumps and is commonly used by households. There is no problem accessing water supply in the province except in some areas like Dipaculao and Casiguran.

The electrical power comes from the National Power Corporation of Luzon through Aurora Electric Cooperative Inc. or AURELCO’s 5 MVA power which is located at San Luis where they use a 69 KV power transmission. This supplies power in areas of San Luis and Baler. The NPC/AURELCO power generator also serves areas in the northern sections of the province with exception in Dilasag whose power supply they get from a logging company. All municipalities of Aurora have electric power, Baler being the most supplied household.

Communications. The province has private owned telecommunication facilities in Baler like the PLDT for long distance and overseas calls, PT&T and RCPI for Telegraph Services. BUTEL or Bureau of Telecommunication office is in Casiguran and they have a transmitting station at AZ Communication in Baler.

You can also find high speed internet connection in Baler. The major provider for internet connection in the area is PT&T and GR8site. To handle government official communication, they have the PLECS or Provincial Law Enforcement Communication System to facilitate communication in the province especially public services for emergency cases. For easy coordination in both government and private institutions, they make use of hand held radio.

The province has several post office in fact each municipality has its own post office and Baler has two post office. This postal service is taken care by the Bureau of Posts. Sources for information or news are transistor radios, FM station and daily news paper. To date Baler has an FM station and they have a local newspaper named Aurora Forum. Another newspaper from Manila which is the Dailies does reach the area. During bad weather expect the Dailies to be circulated late.

Economy

A Special Economic Zone is created for the whole province of Aurora. It is a massive project which involves the construction new roads, seaport, airport, industrial, commercial and residential areas.

The major industry in the province is agriculture which employs about half of the population. Its major crops are abaca, peanuts, citrus fruits, corn, root crops, bananas. Coffee, coconut and rice.

The province is also abundant with livestock and poultry farmers. It’s largest produced are chicken followed by swine and ducks. You can also find great number of Carabaos in the province that is primarily used for farming.

Seventy-four percent of the province area can be categorized as woodland. Their forest products like pandan, puroy, sabutan, nito and rattan are often used in their cottage industries.

Another major industry is fishing since most of the municipalities are along the coastal areas. About one third of the population depends in fishing as their source of living.

Natural resources are also abundant like mineral deposits. They have both metallic and non-metallic minerals. You can find metallic minerals like nickel, gold, manganese, chromate, iron and copper which is quite abundant in the area. You can also find non-metallic minerals like silica, carbon, marble, cement. Black sand and guano. This indeed contributes a lot in their mining industry.

Another growing industry is their tourism industry. The region is blessed with so much natural tourist attractions with its beautiful beaches, waterfalls, green mountains and historic places.

The trade industry in the province comprises about 11.5% of its population. You can find approximately three hundred establishments in the province which is mostly involved with retail and wholesale trading. This number actually stands for half of the registered establishment in the province where most are found in Baler, the trade capital of the region.

Local Customs

  • Locals believe in amulets and incantations which they believe would drive away evil spirits.
  • Hot Pandesal everyone! It is a fact that rice is a staple food for Filipinos but Filipino breakfast is not really complete with out coffee and hot pandesal.
  • Bayanihan in community projects. It is actually a collective effort between locals for the good of all. This is often manifested in different projects push by the local government or even from the community.
  • The most popular event is the Aurora day every February 18. It is celebrated with colorful parades, street dancing, a competition for the best suman adorned house and of course a contest for the best float.

Pros and Cons in Living in Baler

The Pros

  • Cost of living even in major city in the province is definitely cheaper compared to living in big cities like Metro Manila.
  • The seaview is just magnificent. To own an oceanfront property will just be perfect.

The Cons

  • You get to encounter overcharging trike drivers. Make sure you know the fare before you ride one because some drivers double the amount especially if they see you are a foreigner.
  • There are lots of mosquitoes in Baler so that it would benefit if you take with you some off lotion or any mosquito repellant for that matter.
  • If you are living in some remote areas in the province or quite far from its major cities then purchase your groceries in the nearest major city you can find because grocery items tend to be expensive.
  • Not all major roads in going to Baler are concrete and you will most likely encounter narrow, muddy and rough road so make sure you have a vehicle that fits this kind of road.
  • Always have your car full tank and always keep a container for extra petrol because you can only find petrol stations in town proper only.
  • The risk of property damage is high since the province is often a target of typhoon. In fact an average of four typhoons every year is expected and most often two of these typhoons are destructive.
  • There is often electricity failure.

Tourist Attractions

Historical Sights. The province is endowed with plenty of tourist attractions and it has its own historical sites to boast of like their beautiful churches and shrines. Historical sights which you can visit in the province are the shrine of Doña Aurora at Poblacion, Baler; Baler Catholic Church in Poblacion, Baler; Quezon House in Barangay Cemento, Baler; and Quezon Memorial Park in Poblacion Baler.

Cultural Attractions. One can witness the different events and cultural attractions that depict the way of life and culture of the people. Some of these events and cultural attractions include the Moro-Moro Zarzuela, Santo Entierro, and Ermita Hill.

Natural Attractions. When it comes to natural attractions, the region takes pride with its beaches, falls, springs, islets and many more. The following are just a few of the natural attractions you find in the province: Ampere beach at Dipaculao, Borlongan Beach at Borlongan, Dipaculao, Cemento Beach & Reef in Barangay Cemento, Baler; Aniao Islets in Baler, Balete Park & Millennium Tree in Maria Aurora, Banju Springs in San Luis, Cunayan Falls in San Luis and many more.

Getting There

You can get there through two routes which are the Baler-Bongabon Road and Canili-Pantabangan Road. The latter leads to Maria Aurora town while the former road leads to San Luis Town of Baler. The road that leads to San Luis is the one commonly use. If you travel to the province it is best if you use public transportation since it is going to be a rough and long ride and it would be very difficult especially if you are not familiar with the road. It is still best to contact the local government office for information regarding the best route to take at the time of travel.

Traveling by Air. SEAIR caters to Baler. They have scheduled flight every Friday and Monday from Manila to Baler. For updated schedule, checkout SEAIR website (http://flyseair.com/). The flight takes about forty-five minutes from Manila.

Traveling by Land. There are two routes you can choose in going from Manila to Baler and Manila to Dingalan. The former follows the route from the North Expressway of Balintawak which goes out into Sta. Rita Bulacan. After which you go on to the highway which will bring you to Cabanatuan City if Nueva Ecija. It is best if you stop in this place for food to prepare you for a long rough journey ahead. From the city of Cabanatuan just follow the signs that bring you to Bongabon till you arrive to a place where you find the sign “To Baler”. Just turn right and you will find the foot of the Baler-Bonagbon highway which will finally lead you to the Aurora National Memorial Park.

About one hundred fifty kilometers of travel you will finally see the Welcome Arch of Aurora. Just go on and you will reach San Luis. Just stay on the highway till you see the sign Baler and you will be in downtown in just a few minutes.

There are several transport companies that caters to this route but there is one transport company that serves direct route from Metro Manila to Baler. You can find their terminal in Pasay City along EDSA. There is also the Pantranco North bus which has daily trips from Manila to Cabanatuan and may sometimes goes through Baler. You can take a bus run route to Tuguegarao, San Hose, Ilagan or Aparri. Trip often takes about two and half hours. For those who travel from the north has to change buses at Cabanatuan.

Another option is for you to take a Baliwag bus to Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. You take another bus for Baler. The last bus leaves at three in the afternoon. You can also opt for a jeepney ride.

The latter takes the route from Manila to Cabanatuan of Nueva Ecija. In Cabanatuan find a bus bound for Dinagalan. You can also take a jeepney if you prefer. Take note that there are only two trips available to and from Dingalan.

Traveling by Sea. Passenger boats leave from Duungan. Trips to Dilasag, Casiguran, Dinalungan and Dipaculao are available. If you go to the south section of Baler then traveling by sea means renting a banca but boat rides are only available when the seas are calm. There are no commercial boats available at Dingalan.

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