It’s not actually in Baler, the guide assures us and told that we can just drop by the Balete Tree on our way back to Manila. He tried to argue when everyone expected that after Ditumabo Falls was a visit to the famous tree. Since we insisted to finish all the destinations of the eco-tour trip in 6 hours, the Balete tree is far from our route and will rattle the itinerary.
So on our way home, with his instructions, we found ourselves cast under a spell on a narrow road searching for an enchanting and towering tree that will appear anytime in our view. Okay, that was a bit of exaggeration. Signs are available from the highway that will lead you to the Balete Tree.
Balete, in the Philippines, is usually associated with supernatural things and creatures due to urban legends that resulted to some of the group didn’t bother to even take a picture with the 600-year-old tree. With its age, and size, estimated to be surrounded by 60 people with their hands outstretched, the Balete tree of Aurora is considered as the largest Balete tree in Asia.
We arrived and saw several tourists posing like Tarzan on the gnarled roots of the tree. Yes, you may climb the gigantic tree and see yourself gripping and standing on its roots for a photo that you will, later on, share on Facebook. We heard people screaming inside the tree and puzzled if the tree just recently gulps down some noisy tourists. To find out that those were tourists who entered through the trunk of the Balete Tree.
We circumnavigated the tree to search for the entry point and it seems that you need to be under a spell to find it because it was a hard time for us. We surrendered and asked the locals taking photographs for a fee. They led us to the entry point and saw a narrow passage we needed to survive in order to go inside the tree. I discouraged myself and left immediately.
The visit was useless if I won’t be going to climb the famous Balete Tree. So I called the other boys and convinced them to join me. After some talks, we were few meters above the ground, with knees trembling, holding onto the roots of the famous tree in Aurora, and in Luzon perhaps.
Creepy for some, the tree is a living testament of strength as it survived the different challenges it encountered for centuries. The short visit to the Balete Tree commenced our weekend trip to Baler, Aurora.