Ma. Aurora: Creepy Millennium Tree
When people say balete, first impressions come to mind are frightening, spooky, and mysterious. It’s often associated to urban legends, Filipino folklore, and horror stories. That’s why when we learned that one of Tupang Gala’s sidetrips in Aurora is a balete, I don’t know if I should be more excited or afraid. When we started our 4-kilometer ride from Ma. Aurora, the atmosphere was kind of eerie as we looked up the gigantic trees along the road.
Upon arriving on a small barangay of Quirino, a ginormous tree startled but at the same time amazed us. Part of Balete Park, it is open to the public but with corresponding fee of P10 per head (there’s no fee before, oh the word “free” slowly fades as time flies 🙁 ). Since the place is commonly included on tour packages, it often mistakenly labelled as part of Baler.
According to the info signpost, the balete is around 600 years old (based on carbon dating). So technically, it’s not a millennial tree (1,000 years) contrary to what is advertised. Maybe it’s easier to promote and remember that it is millennial than sescentennial, right? Nonetheless, it’s a great achievement for the townsfolk on how they preserve the tree. They heightened their preservation efforts of the tree by installing screen barriers around it. However, just like what happened on the country’s natural landmarks, the poor tree was not pardoned by vandalism.
With 65 meters long and 12-15 meters in diameter, it is said to be the biggest tree in Southeast Asia. So huge, its trunk size can fit up to 10 persons. It’s easy to climb the tree through its branches and creepers. But for securing both the heritage tree and visitors, it is forbidden to climb exceeding 3 meters high. The tree’s bizarre texture on its bark probably due to its 600-year aging process.
The Balete Tree is enormous, we didn’t notice that there are teenagers on the other side. It’s been a favorite hangout of the locals since it offers a cool shade even the sun is on its brightest and hottest.
There’s nothing to do there aside from climbing and taking pictures. But of course, this will complete your Aurora experience. And if you’re brave enough, visit the place in the evening (hehe).
Barangay Quirino is in the middle of San Luis and Ma. Aurora. Due to its remoteness, there’s no jeep and bus routing the place except tricycles. Hire a tricycle and ask to drop you there.
It’s advisable to make a bargain with tricycle drivers by proposing a special trip to different tourist spots of Baler at a reasonable price. Price depends on the quantity and distances of locations. You may ask Baler Tourism Office first for tips and guidance.
P10 per head
Mr. Leo Lorente – Baler Tourism Office