Baler 2017

Summer 2017 is on here in the Philippines!  Here’s my first summer adventure this year!  Fun spending an early summer season with MJ, Willie and JB…

It’s my third time in Baler and this bucolic province never ceases to amaze me.  Love this place!

I lab Baler!

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I’m a Surfer!

How many times do a person need to play a sport before he or she considers that game as his/he sport?  Does it have to be a daily playing of the sport? Once a week? Once a month?  Do a player needs to receive a prize or a medal for winning the game before he or she considers that sport his/her sport?  Or do you have to enlist yourself to legit and recognized sport organization so that you can call that sport your sport?

Or do you simply need to know the mechanics of the sport, be a knowledgeable on who are the legends and superstars of that sport and you just have to simply have to be an avid fan of such a sport before you can consider that sport your sport?

If the basis for having a sport is the last question, without any shoes or any gear, then my sport would be tennis.  But for other basis or criteria of having a sport, then I can easily say that I don’t have one.

Maybe playing a sport is not in my genes and bloodstream.  In the past, every time a soul would ask me what’s my sport, without butting an eyelash and feeling sedimentary, I would simply say “none” then start justifying that sports are only for people who needs to exhibit hatred, vent out ones boastfulness and dispense their sadistic pleasures.

But this is until recently when for the third consecutive year of visiting the bucolic municipality of Baler, I guess I can consider myself of finally having a sport.  That would be SURFING!  No not windsurfing or kite surfing or internet surfing.  Its beach surfing!  Yeah!  This is my third time on three consecutive years to surf the soft-sanded Sabang Beach of Baler.  Would this count?

a short re-briefing...

a short re-briefing…

as usual someone needs to carry my surf board for me. hahaha!

as usual someone needs to carry my surf board for me. hahaha!

i heart baler

i heart baler

surf is up! hahaha!

surf is up! hahaha!

I have yet to know technical terms of the sport like tubing, windswell, crumbly and pearling, but I’m definitely stoked every time I got to surf.  It may only be my third time but I already feel like I’m a Kahuna!  Kahuna by the way according to surfers are the wizards and magicians of surfing!  Hahaha!

Now ask me.  What’s my sport?

You, what’s your sport?

‘Yun nga lang… nakaka-hingal!

Great Harvest: A Baler Peanut Butter Story

travel buddies

travel buddies

One of the things that I look forward to when I go to Baler is their creamy, yummy and locally made peanut butter.  Aside from a private vehicle, dwellers of the city can reach Baler through a 6-hour bus ride.  And right beside the bus station is the souvenir and take-home-presents (pasalubong) store where Nanay Pacing’s peanut butter can be purchased.

Via bus ride, I was in Baler this weekend.  And upon arrival and while the bus was to park at its station, I took a peek from the window to check the store.  The store was closed and it seemed no longer there. My friends and I, who equally loved Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter, wonder how can a very busy store located at a very accessible and perfect spot, could cease operation?

When breakfast time came while spreading the same delicious peanut butter on my toasted bread (hotels in Baler serve this peanut butter in their buffet), I got to ask one of the restaurant staffs about what happened to Nanay Pacing’s store and where it may have transferred.

I was told that Nanay Pacing’s peanut butter is no longer owned by Nanay Pacing.  I was told that Nanay Pacing, the label, is no longer owned by Nanay Pacing.  And that indeed, the big store beside the bus station has closed.

The restaurant staff through a whisper told me that the label has been acquired by the most powerful family in Aurora and that the peanut butter is now being sold at one of the halls of the municipal building.  But with a flicker of hope on catching and tasting the original recipe, I was further told that Nanay Pacing’s new store is now smaller and has relocated and still sells a creamy peanut butter but already of a different brand.  I asked the staff where the store was, she answered she didn’t know.

To validate the story of the restaurant staff, I asked our tour guide cum driver to bring us to the Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter store.  And indeed, he drove us at the municipal hall!  We entered the building, climbed the second floor and indeed saw the bunch of jars of Nanay Pacing’s peanut butter on a shelf waiting to be purchased by mesmerized buyers.  I purchased a couple of bottles for pasalubong.

Upon exiting the municipal building, I then instructed our driver/tour guide to bring us to the new store of Nanay Pacing.  He humbly told us that the store at the bus station is already closed.  I then ordered him to inquire with people at the bus station on where the new store of Nanay Pacing is.  They for sure would know.

good bye nanay pacing, hello great harvest!

good bye nanay pacing, hello great harvest!

And indeed our driver through a whisper by one of the folks at the bus station was told on where the new Nanay Pacing’s store was.  He then drove us to the nearby Baler Public Market and pointed to us the new store of Nanay Pacing.  The store was smaller, offers fewer items but still clean and organized.

The bunch of peanut butter jars can easily be seen displayed on the shelves.  I asked the lady manning the store on what happened to the label.  With a smile, she ignored my question and simply answered “we have our own version of a peanut butter and free taste is available”.  I simply told her, “My God, you are so professional!”

I of course took a tasting spoon and whipped a spoonful from the jar.  And when I tasted it, I can suddenly hear my taste buds cheering and clapping for joy!  I knew then that it was the same lovely peanut butter which I was mesmerized when I first tasted it as offered to me by no less than Nanay Pacing herself during my first visit in Baler.

my new favorite peanut butter plus the usual nengkoy's favorite fried pastillas (for pasalubong)

my new favorite peanut butter plus the usual nengkoy’s favorite fried pastillas (for pasalubong)

the true deal in baler peanut butter

the true deal in baler peanut butter

I purchased a couple of jars and regretted buying at the municipal hall. I then decided that I will just give away all the peanut jars I purchased at the municipal building and I will keep the peanut butter I bought at the public market for my own personal consumption.

While writing this story, I am munching on a piece of bread with heaps of the delicious Great Harvest Peanut Butter!

Ayana, alam nyo na ang hindi dapat bilin at dapat bilin sa Baler…

Haler Baler…

One measure to prove that a traveler is so fascinated by a holiday destination is when he experienced the wanderlust to come back.  It is the strong desire and the itching feeling of wanting to return and re-experience the stunning sights and striking sounds of such captivating destination.

I have done a lot of returning and re-experiencing of various spellbinding tourist destinations myself both locally and internationally.  And one destination that has recently been added up to this beautiful list is Baler.  In less than a year I am back visiting this countrified town of Aurora Province here in the Philippines.

What I particularly loved about Baler is that there are so much to see, do and explore.  And that every spot is so overwhelmingly beautiful.  Add to that are the surprisingly affordable restaurants and food establishments  that offers fresh, delicious and hearty meals.

To further substantiate that I am truly captivated by this place, I returned back with Nengkoy and my family for them to see and experience for themselves how much fun I had the first time I visited.  And true enough, Baler for the second time around did not fail to amaze the traveler in me.

A very long rickety yet enjoyable Hanging Bridge

A very long rickety yet enjoyable Hanging Bridge

enjoying the sea breeze at the baywalk

enjoying the sea breeze at the baywalk

me & nengkoy posing at lukso-lukso beach & islets

me & nengkoy posing at lukso-lukso beach & islets

the millenium tree! one of the largest trees in asia..

the millenium tree! one of the largest trees in asia..

the surf is up at Sabang Beach!

the surf is up at Sabang Beach!

magnificent Mother Falls!

magnificent Mother Falls!

Swimming at the magnificent Mother Falls in Baler #motherfalls #baler #swim #waterfall #philippines #aurora

A post shared by neil langit (@neillangit) on

the view up the lighthouse hill...

the view up the lighthouse hill…

And what is even further amazing about this return is that members of family were equally amazed by the beauty, warmth and hospitality of this gorgeous province.  I wont be surprised if I will again be back in this province and say “Haler… Baler…”

Babalik-babalik pa mor…

Ditumabo Falls After The Rain

Mountain trekkers know that waterfalls are at their scenic best when there has been rainfall.  That is absolutely what I saw and experienced in Aurora Province on the day I conquered the exhilarating green forest of barrio San Luis which nestles the beautiful Ditumabo Falls.

my first waterfall trek

my first waterfall trek

pahinga muna

pahinga muna

wow!

wow!

The first gait I made to accomplish this adventure, I simply let my cares drop like fallen trees.  I did not expect anything to gain with this specific venture.  I was merely trying to endure what needs to be endured during the whole time I was walking up the mountain.  Nevertheless, while pacing my initial strides, I was already feeling the freshness of the air kissing my cheeks, similar to how the cool streams of water kiss the thirsty lips of earth.

love handles galore! hahaha!

love handles galore! hahaha!

the authentic "cool waters"

the authentic “cool waters”

But as I further my trekking, I eventually felt the flowing of nature’s peace inside my being just like how sunshine flows into the leaves and branches of a tree. And as I further went up the trail, I was feeling the fresh energy of the whole forest.  I felt no pain, I felt no fatigue.  It was sheer delight and pleasantness.

breathtaking!

breathtaking!

joyous...

joyous…

And when we reached our destination, the sight of the dream-like forest mist, the look of the inviting jade-colored pool and the magnificent appearance of the robust stream of the waterfall, resulted to a total feeling of intense joy and happiness!

Ditumabo Falls after the rain is indeed magical!

Wan wid da neychur ang peg…

Perfect Imperfections of Costa Pacifica

Costa Pacifica is a high end resort/hotel place in Baler, Aurora Province.  If I am to describe this stunningly relaxing resort in one word, the word would be “imperfect”.

first shot! the sun has yet to rise when we arrived

first shot! the sun has yet to rise when we arrived

picture muna

picture muna

Though ranked as the number 1 resort in whole of Aurora province, the soft, fine and sandy beach offering of Costa Pacifica (which is literally few steps away) is not the soft white variety that you would typically find in a high end resort in the Philippines.  But you will totally forget about the color of the sand as soon as you would see the awesome color of the sunrise, hear the calming sound of the beach and experience the exhilarating swells of its waves.

aylavet!

aylavet!

relaxing...

relaxing…

amazing view

amazing view

Though the very nice facilities and ambience of this resort can already be considered perfect, the reason for its imperfection is their overwhelming customer service flexibility.  It’s more than perfect that is why I consider it ridiculously imperfect.

I know that check-in time for any resort or hotel is at 2:00 PM and request for early check-in would usually be granted starting at 10 in the morning depending on room availability.  But what is insanely surprising is that we were granted a 6:00 AM early check-in even though we did not actually insisted or demanded for it.

Upon arriving in Baler super early in the morning, we went straight to this beautiful resort just to request on the possibility of our luggage to be kept in their storage area.  And that we would just return at 2:00PM in time for our check-in.  But surprisingly, we were already offered to check-in in our room right at that very moment!

super nice!

super nice!

nice loots for nengkoy... she would hate me if i will just leave those...

nice loots for nengkoy… she would hate me if i will just leave those…

fit for a king...

fit for a king…

To prove and push further their incredible customer service flexibility, they allowed us to avail our breakfast – which by the way was a delightful buffet – on the day we arrived.  When in fact, the breakfast should only be availed the following day after we have spent overnight in that beautiful resort.

These two rare more-than-perfect experiences made me incredibly so impressed by the customer service orientation of the whole resort!  It shut off my usual petulant morning crankiness making my whole throughout stay in Baler very pleasing and relaxing.   I have been to lots of expensive hotels and resorts, but never was I granted this amazing level of generosity and flexibility.

one happy & satisfied guest...

one happy & satisfied guest…

Walang kadamot-damot… Kakaiba ka Kosta Pasipika!

The Peanut Butter That Will Tantalize Your Tastebuds

nanay pacing, i was surprised that she was the one manning the store...

the lady on the label.  i was surprised that she was the one manning the store…

In some recent past, Philippine society got so crazed up by a food paste known as Speculoos Cookie Butter.  We were so wildly insane about it, it seem like a status symbol to own at least one jar.  As if possessing one jar is to have an insane bragging right.  Filipinos then would even post a photo of their cookie butter jar on their Facebook page!

Now that the hype has calmed down  and that Trader Joe’s in California (where this spread is sold) are no longer infested with Filipinos lining up to buy jars of it, there has yet to have another food paste that Pinoy society would have to be crazy about.

While waiting for the re-emergence of such phenomenon, let me introduce you to a locally-made food spread that will tantalize your tastebuds. It’s the Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter!

Buying two jars of this spread was the best purchase I made when I recently been to Baler in Aurora Province.  This peanut butter, my goodness, is evil!

one rare source of gastronomic happiness

warning! highly addictive…

glad to have discovered it in baler

glad to have discovered it in baler

In case you got hold of this creamy peanut butter and tried it for yourself, and you think you did not like it, then perhaps there must be no joy in your life and I hope things would get better soon.

There are few things in this world that deserves some great recognition, Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter is one of them!  And because of its magical taste which emanates the secretion of happy chemical compounds in the brain, I will then submit a formal nomination of Nanay Pacing to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Chemistry and Physiology.

Maning may mantikilya o mantikilyang may mani? Basta yami!