Thursday, February 07, 2008

Philippines Yearbook 2008: Baler, Aurora

This is an intro to the article I did for the Philippines Yearbook 2008 whose theme for the year is Travel and Adventure. Filled with informative activities throughout this awesome archipelago, supported by excellent photography from some of the country's best, the book as a whole is an excellent addition to any bookshelf. It makes a great gift as well.

This article has photos of Jeff dela Torre, Django Mendoza and Corey Wills.

Apocalypse Wow: Baler, Aurora
Text by: Kage Gozun
Photos: Ivan Sarenas and Kage Gozun

Baler is the capital of the province of Aurora. The political and economic center of this historic province has long called to those drawn by the call of the wild.

The journey truly begins at the foot of the Sierra Madre mountain range. Driving along its cliffside roads is breath taking for two reasons: the overgrown foilage makes for spectacular scenery and the deep ravines a few feet away from the edge
of the road makes for some nervous driving.

The drive is well worth it. The town is as rich in history as the mountains are in giant ferns and vibrant trumpet flowers.

In 1735, a wave struck this town and completely eradicated it. The destruction it left in its wake, and the fact that nearby areas where left virtually intact has become the stuff of legend. Slowly, the surviving inhabitants began to rebuild the town, first known as Kinagunasan. By the later 1730s, Spanish clergy had set up shop. To this day, there is evidence to the strong ties Baler has with its Spanish roots. Among them are the annual Filipino-Spanish Friendship Day and the presence of the Baler Catholic Church, where Spanish troops held the American soldiers at bay during the later 1800s. The town that had once been wiped off the face of the earth by a freak wave fell under American rule in 1900.

It was the existence of waves that drew another historical figure to the town of Baler. Back in the late 70's, Francis Ford Copolla himself set up shop along one of Baler's rivermouths and shot key scenes to his hit film Apocalypse Now. Among these scenes was the infamous surfing sequence along Charlie's Point. The film wrapped up, Copolla flew out with his wife in tow and the crew left behind the first surfboards ever to be used in Baler.

For the rest of this, please go out and get yourself a copy of the yearbook. National Bookstore retails the yearbook for around Php1,800.

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