by - 1:39 AM

Believe me when I tell you there is more to Aurora than just Baler...

While adoring the chill life in Baler during my last trip there, I promised myself that I would go back to Aurora again and this time with my boyfriend. To make it a bit different and special at least, I decided to explore a different part of the Aurora province and chose DIPACULAO. 

Dipaculao never rang a bell to me until I read an article in When in Manila about a certain hipster hotel located there and man, was it a beautiful one! but heart shattering expensive. I couldn't believe my eyes at how beautiful the location was so I told myself "I badly want to go there and I need to research for an alternative resort, a cheaper one." 

Google was definitely helpful. I stumbled upon a couple of blogs with a few tips and reviews about Dipaculao and I even found the resort that I need! We stayed at Halos Farm and Resort, a very homey and chill resort with very accommodating and attentive staffs. You can only book a reservation through Agoda (click here) and sadly, they don't have any provided contact details. If you're gonna stay at Halos Farm and Resort, they sell freshly baked Buko Pie de Baler everyday that you shouldn't miss trying. I swear it's the best Buko Pie I've tasted so far.

Also, I wrote a review on Trip Advisor regarding our stay there which you might want to check out: https://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/Hotel_Review-g2036998-d6833198-Reviews-Halos_Farm_and_Resort-Baler_Aurora_Province_Central_Luzon_Region_Luzon.html

How to get to Dipaculao

1. Ride a bus at Five Star Terminal in Cubao bound to Cabanatuan. Tell the conductor you'll be dropping off at Cabanatuan Terminal. That's already the last stop.

2. From Cabanatuan Terminal, look for either a D LINER or EJ LINER bus, whatever is available from the 2. They are sister bus companies which are the only ones offering a trip bound to CASIGURAN. I am not really sure with the exact trip schedules but according to the conductor of the EJ Liner bus that we boarded, EJ Liner's first trip is 7 P.M. and last trip is 10 A.M. He didn't mention anything about D Liner though. And take note, these are both ORDINARY BUSES. 

I was pretty confident that the bus will be passing by the resort where we're will be staying at but I was wrong. They dropped us at the main drop off point of Dipaculao wherein we had to ride a tricycle bound to the resort. We were lucky the driver we got knows where our resort was located because I was referring to my phone's GPS most of the time to be sure we're headed the right way. 

Our Budget

Okay, our budget for the trip is PHP 5,000 in total for me and my boyfriend. This is for 3 days and 2 nights including our extra cash. To save a bit on bus trips, I opted with Cabanatuan route instead of riding a direct trip. I tell you, it may be a bit hassle to transfer from one transpo to another but this is way cheaper. Here's a run down of our expenses throughout the trip:

PHP 5,000 / 2 persons (3 DAYS 2 NIGHTS)

Going to
Bus from Cubao - Cabanatuan - PHP 180.00
Bus from Cabanatuan - Casiguran - PHP 176.00
Tricycle from Dipaculao drop off point - Halos Farm & Resort - PHP 150.00

Heading back
Tricycle from the resort - Baler Terminal - PHP 250.00
(We made a quick stop to Yolly's Ihaw-Ihaw for a quick brunch. We had kuya driver wait for us to take us to the terminal after we eat.)
Bus from Baler - Cabanatuan via D LINER - PHP 176.00
Bus from Cabanatuan - Cubao - PHP 200.00

Tricycle from the Resort - Sabang beach - PHP 400 (I made a huge mistake on this part! Arrgh! Regrets, regrets)
Tricycle from Sabang Beach-Baler Market-The Resort- PHP 200

Tapsilog, Chixsilog, Longsilog and 2 cups of hot coffee - PHP 225.00 (Day 2 brunch at Baler)
Buko Pie de Baler - PHP 500.00 (PHP 100/box and we bought 5!)
Cooking oil, 4 pcs of eggplant, a pack of tomatoes, 3 pcs of salted egg, 1 kilo of rice - PHP 160.00
Inihaw na Pusit and liempo, laing, 4 cups of rice and 1 liter of C2 iced Tea - PHP 485.00 (Last day meal)

Tree House (for 2 nights) - PHP 1,786 (I wasn't satisfied w/ the room so we transferred to a new one)
+400.00 for the room upgrade.

TOTAL = PHP 5,288  - Uh huh, we went way beyond the budget...as expected.

I arrived at the bus terminal at 12:30 a.m. and spent most of my time waiting for my boyfriend to come out from work. The end of his shift is at 1:30 a.m. if he gets lucky to finish all of his closing tasks on or before that time. So you can imagine how exhausted and really tired we both were on DAY 1. We left Cubao for Cabanatuan at around 3 a.m. and arrived there at around 6:30. We left Cabanatuan at 7:30 am, passed through beautiful rice fields and zig zag roads filled with scenic views and arrived at Dipaculao by 11am. As you can tell, we spent most of our time and day on the road, transferring from one vehicle to another, trying to take a good sleep while paying close attention to our destination. And even though we brought a few food supplies along with us, we barely got the chance to eat a decent meal while travelling our way to Dipaculao since bus stops are pretty limited. But I am not complaining, I am thankful we reached our destination whole and safe.

We arrived at 12 noon in Halos Farm and Resort and wasted no time upon arrival. We immediately cooked our brunch after checking in since we were already starving to death and had a meal of  freshly cooked plain rice and spicy Delimondo corned beef in an open kitchen overseeing the beach. And guess what happened next? We slept all throughout the day and it was the best feeling ever! It was already 5:30 pm when we woke up and caught on the sight of the sunset. 

I have our itinerary carefully planned out for Day 2 actually. I just didn't expect it to get ruined. Day 2 was all about just exploring the northern side of Aurora: 

1. Watch the sunrise at Ampere Beach (the best view of the sunrise in Aurora and I can attest to that. It really is the best.)
2. Take a dip and get a tan at Dinadiawan beach (the one with the white sand as what Google Images have shown me)
3. Take a side trip to the next municipality, Dinalungan, where we can experience the cleanest falls in Luzon (Again, as what Google have told me). 
4. Chill at the resort.

Sadly, we were only able to tick off numbers 1 & 4 from my list. I changed my mind last minute and erased #3 from the plan and went on to side trip to Baler instead to let my boyfriend experience it the way I did. 

If you are thinking of going to Dipaculao, please don't miss out watching the sunrise at Ampere Beach. This is something that will definitely highlight your trip. Just do not attempt to swim in there as the waves are very unpredictable and the shore is covered with big rocks. You might bump your head in there and that's not good. Look lang pero no swim. This is a good place to contemplate if you wanna ask yourself what exactly you're doing with your life. #adulting

Since our accommodation is located in a secluded area with no restos around and a few sari-sari stores along the way, we planned to go to Baler Public Market to buy some more food supplies. I thought of taking Louis to Sabang Beach for a quick stop. I was completely in awe at how beautiful it looked with the sun out and the waves back! The last time I was there it was the complete opposite so I was really glad to experience it on my second visit. Also, I got to take him to this tapsi spot where Trixia and I ate last time on our visit and got to eat my fave longsilog again! I wasn't able to get the name of the place but the walls of this place is colored in Mint Green and serves the best homemade hamburger/cheeseburger and longsilog..for me! The boyfriend loves it too! It's just along Buton Street.

Right after having breakfast, that's the time we proceeded to the Market and headed back to the resort to fix our stuff for our next destination. We felt like it was too hot to go to the beach at 1 pm so we decided to stay at the resort for a bit, take a nap and proceed by 3:30 p.m. 

Plot twist: we didn't get to go. Because our "trusty" sundo didn't arrive at the exact time we were expecting him and worst, it was about to rain already by that time. So instead of pushing through, we just dipped and enjoyed the resort's pool which isn't so bad anyway.

We woke up early to check-out and to have brunch at Yolly's ihaw-ihaw (another fave eating spot) and to get back to Manila as early as we possibly can. I felt really sad to leave without having the chance to soak into the sea water and discovering more of what the North has more in store for us. I wish we could extend for another day just to tick off the remaining activities that we have in our ruined itinerary but you know, priorities and adulting are both dragging us back to Manila. If you don't happen to know, I have a knack for unusual places. I truly believe that there are a lot more beautiful places here in the Philippines that remain unknown due to lack of exposure. Places which can totally match or exceed the beauty and vibe of  the usual spots foreigners and tourists often prefer to go. I am here to dedicate my energy to explore and discover these unknown beauty and share it with all of you. I started off last year for my 23rd birthday with Masasa Beach and just recently, Dipaculao, Aurora. 

Here's the reason why I came back to Aurora again:

Aurora got so much beauty and potential in her, most especially the northern part, that most people don't know about. I didn't even know it until I googled it and went to the place and from there I realized there's more, so much more to it than Baler. It is very far to travel but definitely worth burning the butt off. I realized, you will find your true peace and relaxation in the most unusual places. A non-cliche one is what I'm talking about and Dipaculao is definitely one of them. 

Now, do I have plans of coming back? Definitely yes but not anytime soon and when that time comes, I would love to explore the neighboring municipalities of Dipaculao: Dinalungan, Casiguran and Dilasag, with a car this time.

If you want to see a bit of Dipaculao in action, I made a vlog for you of course! Click here

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