The first church of Baler was constructed in 1611 (Sabang) at the initiative of Fray Juan Francisco de San Antonio OFM, the first parish priest. It was twelve by six shacks made of bamboo and nipa. In 1700 the building was improved and made from stones and rocks plastered together by lime and honey. In 1735 this church was destroyed by the phenomenal Tromba Marina. They moved the town in-land about eight meters above, sea level and built their church at the highest point they could locate. It is where the church is now today.
Our church was rebuilt in the middle of 1700 century through hard and forced labor. The men where made to make a bee-line from the church yard to Munting Gasang where blocks of corals were transported by hand to the construction site to form the walls of the new church plastered by lime and honey. By 1798, the church was almost complete.
This was the old historically famous garrison during the Spanish regime and the last pocket of resistance of the Spanish armed forces to surrender to the American Troops, from June 1898 to June 1899. Aside form being the legendary garrison the church of Baler became the house of the famous La Campana De Baler which was brought to Baler in the 17th century by Fray Jose de Esperagoza. It had become famous because its echoing sounds which reverberated up to the distant places of Baler, San Luis, Maria and Dipaculao.
In 1939 the church underwent a major renovation through the initiative of the late President Quezon’s wife Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon, their family and friends with the cooperative effort of the townspeople.
The church was proclaimed as one of the historical landmarks of the Philippines by the National Historical Institute on February 29, 2000.
REPLICA OF DOÑA AURORA ARAGON QUEZON HOUSE
Located at Rizal St. corner San Luis St., this house was re-built in honor of the wife of the late Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon. Doña Aurora who was known for her untiring efforts in providing social welfare services especially to the people of Aurora Province.
MANUEL LUIS QUEZON PRESIDENTIAL CAR
The car was restored to its original form by Dan Irish, a noted vintage car collector. Another major restoration was conducted by Alfred Nobel Perez of Kamuning, Quezon City. According to Badoy (Executive Director of NHI), Perez, a restorer of the Vintage Car Club of the Philippines, is a distinguished vintage car restorer who reaped several awards for his craft. He said that P 900,000.00 was spent for its restoration with another P 700,000.00 needed for it to be in full running condition.
“It’s actually priceless”, Badoy said, when he asked how much the car actually costs.The black-colored car, mounted on plywood, is about three meters wide and five feet tall. It has a seating capacity of six passengers. –
LT. JAMES GILMORE MARKER
At the corner of San Luis St. and Rizal St. stands the Lt. James Gilmore marker. He was the commander of the USS Gunboat ‘Yorktown’. On April 12, 1899, when he came to Baler to relieve the half-famished Spanish Garrison that had besieged the town for nearly a year, he and his men were captured by insurgent forces save two (2) who were instantly killed and two (2) mortally wounded. Lt. James Gilmore and the survivors were taken to Nueva Ecija and then to Northern Luzon where they were later rescued by American forces and taken to Manila.
BALER 400 YEARS MONUMENT
This monument is dedicated to all people of Baler on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Baler’s Township. The pure, clean lines of this elegant structure by foremost installation artist Jaynee are deeply symbolic. His design is composed of four pillars-representing Baler’s 400 years of history interconnected by 100 horizontal Bars.
The four pillars represent the continues rise of the town it’s humble begginings to what it is now: a rich in history and an emerging model for rural development. Each pillar represents a hundred years, thus a total of 400 years.
From the base to the tip, the four pillars are interconnected by 100 stairless bars, representing the unbroken history of Baler, the town that gave birth to the first president of the Philippines and two senate pressidents. The 100 stainless bars wich glow 2 giltter daylight, are like candles to Baler’s quadricentennial cake.
The flatform of this 40-foot monument is made of vigan tiles symbolizing Baler’s Kayumanggi race enriched by spanish herritage.
Altogether, the beautiful monochromatic while of the structure is a testament to Baler’s triumph from adversiby. This solid upward-facing monument is a symbol of the towns inner strenght ang it’s bright future. This work was commissioned and furded by one of Baler’s favorite sons. Senator Edgardo J. Angara.
QUEZON MEMORIAL PARK
The birthplace of the late President Manuel L. Quezon, it is situated at the heart of the town. This is where the house of the Quezon’s once stood, a relatively small house made of wood, bamboo and nipa materials. In the event of time, the place was made the center of people’s recreation and a place for remembering the good hero.
MUSEO DE BALER
Located in Quezon Park, it has the photo exhibit of Pres. Quezon and his family and other leaders of the province. Pictures of the past events during the American, Spanish and Japanese period showing the history and culture of Aurorans, scenic spots and ethnic tribes of the province are on display. There are also things to be read about the province and its people especially the Dumagat and Ilongot.
As the official entry of Viva films in the 34th Metro Manila film festival, Baler is a movie drama that revolved around a forbiden love that took place during the Siege of Baler from 1898 to 1899. The film retold the historic struggle of a Spanish Contingent and Filipino revolutionary forces around the walls of the church of Baler, which is also a setting of the romance between Celso Resurreccion (Jericho Rosales), a Mestizo soldier and Feliza Reyes (Anne Curtis), a young Filipina. It also portrayed conflicts and hardships of 19th century Filipino life in the historic town during the culmination of the Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonial rule.
Baler had it’s debut screening last December 2008. It won a total of 10 awards including Best Picture and Best Director, topping other entries in the 34th Metro Manila Film Festival Awards. The film garnered the prestigious Gatpuno Antonio Villegas Cultural Award for embodying the values of the Filipinos and the country’s heritage, history and culture. Baler continues to earn overseas recognition, including its special screening at the 2nd San Joaquin International film festival last May 2009, in Califonia, USA.
The place is ideal for surfing and considered as one of the country’s best site for surfing competitions. As for swimming, people are advised to swim only in the designated part for safety reason. There are portions where there might be an unpredictable underwater current. Accommodation and resorts as well as other amenities for nightlife are found here.
DIKALOYUNGAN MARKER – (as per written in the marker)
Sa pook na ito noong ika-3 ng Setyembre 1897 nagpunit ng sedula ang mga katipunerong kinabibilangan nina Teodorico Luna Novicio, Antero Amatorio, Norberto Valenzuela, Isabelo Palispis at iba pa sa mga lumagda sa isang manipestong nagpapahayag ng kanilang pagsalungat sa kapangyarihan ng Espanya. Sa pangyayaring ito nagsimula ang himagsikang Filipino sa distrito ng prinsipe (Aurora ngyon). Nagsilbi rin itong himpilan ng kilusang rebolusyonaryo.
Located at Brgy. Zabali, this plateau covers an area of about two hectares overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It is approximately six kilometers from the town of Baler via Kinalapan-Cemento road. It can also be reached by traversing the river of Tibag and is more or less 20 minutes walk from Castillo.
Sometime in 1735, at two o’clock in the morning a phenomenal tidal wave washed away the old town of Baler. A tide rose at such a velocity that within a few hours even the terrain where the town existed had also disappeared. Fray Jose de San Rafael, OFM, the parish priest of Casiguran was on vacation in Baler when the event took place. He was among the survivors who made their way up the hill of Point Baja (Ermita) by swimming. He narrated that at about two o’clock in the morning of December 27, 1735, the sacristan major of the convent called his attention to the rising tidal wave engulfing the town. It was weird occurrence for there was no sign or manifestation of impending bad weather. The previous night was clear and starry. Neither were the towns of Casiguran, the mission of Dipaculao and the hamlet of Dingalan affected regardless of the fact that these places were located along the same shorelines. The records on Tromba Marina mentioned a number of families who survived foremost of which were the Angara, Bihasa, Bitong, Carrasco, Ferreras, Lumasac and Poblete. The old folks referred to the devastated town as the KINAGUNASAN.
Moro raiders attacked Baler, Casiguran and Palanan in 1798. They captured the parish priest and the town leaders. In Baler, they kidnapped Fray Lucas de Resurrection, OFM, whom they held for ransom. With the devastation wrought by the Tromba Marina in 1735, the survivors moved the town of Baler two kilometers inland but Moro piracy and plunder compelled the people to transfer to Sabang near the mouth of the river, so that when the pirates came, the people could see them coming and had the time to flee to the mountain. Baler was not a safe place to live during those days because of the frequent visit and attack of the moors. They did not only get the young boys and girl but also rubbed the people of their valuables. The people lived in fear that for most fifty years, from 1798 to 1847, their was a reign of terror in the town. It was this instance that prompted Fray Jose Urbina de Esparragaza to construct the fort or watch tower in Castillo and Point Baja (Ermita) to serve as look out for the people to make known the arrival of the marauding pirates.
The old folks believed the Moors ceased their intermittent attacks because on their last visit, Sta. Isabel and St. Louis, the patron of Baler joint forces in fighting the Moors. According to the legend, every moor that landed at Castillo from their vintah suffered much from the blinding brilliance of the sun and the sand that a woman wielded against them. The people of Sabang believed that what happened was a miracle. They further believed that the man and woman were St. Louis and Sta. Isabel. The people of Sabang made Sta. Isabel; their patroness and built a chapel in her honor at Ermita.
STA. ISABEL CHAPEL
It was built during the Spanish time as a look-out view point for invading pirates which is connected to the chapel. It was originally made of coral fragments and the binding material used was egg white and shells. During the restoration by the National Historical Institute in 2005, this binding was covered with concrete plasters and pulled the grass and plants that grew on these gaps.
It is located in Sitio Cemento, Brgy. Zabali, approximately 8 kilometers away from the town proper of Baler and approximately less than a kilometer away from Ermita Hill. It was built to provide fishermen centralized trading, systematic and sanitary practices of fishing in Baler. This place was formerly known as the Quezon port. Pres. Quezon wanted the place to remain unspoiled that he wanted access to Baler only by either air or sea.
This rock formation is just a few meters away from the reef shore of Brgy. Cemento and serves as the point identifying the Southernmost tip af Baler Bay. It serves as the icon of Baler.
White sand, seashells and crushed corals are found along the stretch of Diguisit beach. The place is ideal for diving and snorkeling. 96 hectares of the area was declared as marine protected area and 16 hectares as buffer zone. The diguisit falls was the source of water of the residents during the American regime.
Located in Brgy. Zabali, Baler, Aurora, one can either have a choice of which nature to commune – river, ocean or mountain or altogether embrace them at the merging point of a headland.