You know that one person whom you thought you hate but made you fall in love in the most unexplainable and unexpected way? That person whom you were too cautious to open up to but ended up being your constant confidant? That person who looked really reserved and timid but turned out to be the most exciting hyperactive human being? If that person be a place, that’s Baler for me.
I’ve been to Baler for quite a few times already but let me share with you one interesting story ‘bout my recent trip to one of Luzon’s famous surfing spots.
I woke up with the sunlight nearly burning my face (eeeeek!) on a fine Saturday morning. Took me a good five minutes before I finally convinced my eyelid to defy gravity and realized that I was comfortably reenacting the Vitruvian man on someone else’s bed. I smiled as I smelled that familiar beach scent and remembered what happened last night. Nearly giggled because well, I just lost my virginity with strangers. YES, with an “S” (coz they were 5)
I LOST MY VIRGINITY OF TRAVELING WITH STRANGERS!!!! PAAAK! Ganeeern!!
I hurriedly jumped off the bunk bed and headed downstairs and realized I was the only one left in the co-ed kubo room! I found them in the common area—Rubie (the cutie anime dubber), Missy (the passionate lawyer and a fellow iska), Claire (the giddy gal who loves to travel with her extremely long lashes, also a fellow iska MABUHAAAY!), Raf (the Circle hostel co-owner), Angelica (Raf’s apprentice, a member of Gawad Kalinga), and Aldous (the trip organizer who loves to eat the world haha). Everyone was all gathered in a concentric circle that easily connected! (Need I say more about the hostel’s name origin? Heehee. )
I didn’t know what I was thinking but I did not regret diving into this crazy adventure with these complete strangers last night. What I thought of as weird immediately turned fun as soon as everyone filled up Raf’s car and started sharing hugot and random stories, exchanging playlists, and watching inspirational and travel videos (sure did help in making the six-hour travel time feel like 6 minutes only (char lang, medyo tagal ng byahe talaga haha but it’s ok!))
And as if the six-hour “getting-to-know-each-other” session last night wasn’t enough, we continued the party over unlimited hot pandesal, bananas, and this really good chunky peanut butter spread with the hostel’s special Dipaculao coffee blend.
Everyone was looking forward to ride the waves after breakfast, which was why they were eager to start the day REAL EARLY. However the swell was nearly at 4-6ft that morning (it looked like a final destination scenario if we pushed through) which was obviously too dangerous for amateurs like us. We then decided to stretch and find our inner strength first through Yoga.
It was quite refreshing to start our day with some challenging stretch, twists and meditation which nearly produced 50 liters of sweat from all of us combined (enough to supply irrigation to the rootcrops nearby, I kid you not). The session was led by Raf (yuh, not only the owner but also a yoga instructor) and it lasted for an hour. I didn’t want to leave the hostel because lazing on the bean bags seemed like the second best idea (as eating is still on top of the list) but hey, a weekend is all we have so might as well make the most of it. After contemplating that we have really nothing to lose (or convinced ourselves at least), we decided to put our game face on and come face to face with the great big waves (that’s how the 4foot 11 inches me sees it, okay?!)
The beach was only 3-minute walk away from the hostel which is very convenient. I’ve tried surfing a lot of times though I AM CERTAINLY NOT GOOD at it YET but I’m pretty much familiar with the drill. My new found friends, however, are surfing-virgins. So with the help of El-Dawn boys, they instructed us with the basics.
Everyone was listening attentively except for me because I was distracted with the surfers’ pandesals (by this, I mean their abs). Darn, should’ve brought the peanut butter spread! Ganeeern!
After fifteen minutes, we got into the water. I wasn’t really sure if I was trying to surf or in a boxing match coz the waves kept on coming and crashing and knocking us all out. But just like our pambansang kamao, MANNY PACQUIAO, we FOUGHT HARD. And it felt as though we won the heavyweight belt as we gloriously stood on our surf boards! I wasn’t drunk yet but I saw victory confetti around me every time I successfully got up on the board followed by flashbacks of my life every time I get wiped out. (EEEEEKKKK!)
We got drained for only an hour of surfing so we decided to recharge by EATING LUNCH (YAAAASSS!) at Kusina Luntian upon hostel’s recommendation. Just a tip though: if the circle hostel recommends you to try a certain restaurant, DON’T HESITATE TO TRY IT. What I love about this restaurant is that it encourages you to unlock your hands’ full potential by using them as your kubyertos. Yes, old school Pinoy style it is! The food was relatively cheap compared to the restaurants along the beach, not to mention its appetizing food selection. I ordered pritong bangus and pako salad which only cost 135pesos (3 USD).
One of the highlights of this trip is the Passion and Purpose workshop. I know this is the first time for you to hear about it because only The Circle Hostel offers this very unique activity.
Remember Raf, one of the owners who also teaches yoga? Well he happens to be the speaker and moderator of the Passion and Purpose workshop too. The activity was basically about unlocking and discovering one’s passion and realigning priorities to achieve those passions one step at a time.
I must say, this activity basically brought the group closer as we learned together our purpose in life. I won’t go into details on this one right now; I will have a separate post for this.
The temperature was nearly at 33°Celsius and some of the guests were having siesta after their surfing sesh, while some were painting on the hostel’s walls. We were just about to go out again to explore the town of Baler. I wasn’t sure if the peanut butter spread has an energy-boosting kick to it but we were so restless that even the waves had to calm down a little bit in the afternoon to acknowledge our presence.
There are a number of tourist spots in Baler but we decided to visit the Diguisit beach, Ermita hill, and the 600-year old Balete tree during our stay.
It was night time already when we returned to the hostel. I knew everyone was tired already by the looks on their faces and by their “girl, antok na antok na ko” and “girl, gusto ko nang magpahinga”. Much as I want to bond more with the group, I decided instead to contact a friend, Pax, who’s been a Baler regular and almost a local for my alcohol fix. To my surprise, I had more than a regular alcohol that night because I was offered a freshly-gathered Tuba, a local alcoholic drink made from coconut sap. I must say, the locals really know how to treat their guests! Haha.
I got up the following day feeling lighter (must’ve been the cleansing effect of Tuba heehee). We started our day with another power breakfast of pandesal, bananas, and peanut butter spread and proceeded with yoga and another surf session and part two of the passion and purpose workshop.
I wanted to freeze time coz I knew we were about to leave by lunch time but Hiro Nakamura was too stubborn to lend me his powers. Ugh.
Unlike the usual drama of leaving a place with a heavy heart, mine was a little different. I left Baler that day with a very HAPPY HEART because I realized that the people I’m with are really not strangers. They are just friends I hadn’t met yet. Rubie, Missy, Claire, Raf, Angelica, She, and the ElDawn Boys were an addition to these amazing people I met and shared awesome moments with and I’m just more than thankful to have made the right decision of joining the trip.
Experience the same thrilling adventure with strangers who’ll eventually become your friends–your new Circle!
Check out The Circle Hostel Baler website for their awesome packages and rates!
The Circle Hostel Baler
Brgy. Sabang, Baler, Aurora
Mobile: +63 917 501 0235