DIPACULAO, AURORA, PHILIPPINES — A summertime road trip is one of the best things in the outdoor life. Me nem nesa (insert Dothraki reference here). Our destination this time was the northern municipality of central Aurora, Dipaculao, and the typhoon-frequented, northern parts of Aurora, the DICADI trio – Dilasag, Casiguran, Dinalungan.
Whenever you’d hear Aurora province, the top-of-mind destination is Baler which is famous for the Sabang Beach and Dicasalarin Cove. Talk about Ditumabo Mother Falls, and you’ve got the town of San Luis. Think about the Millenium Balete Tree, and the town of Maria Aurora may pop into the view. The semi-isolated & mountainous municipality of Dingalan, have also started gaining popularity because of its Batanes-like sceneries. But what about the northern bulk of the province? According to Michael Palispis, provincial tourism officer, Aurora is currently at only 10% of its tourism potentials. Hopefully, the preparations being done for Dipaculao and the DICADI area would yield sustainable ecotourism.
Thus last April, I bugged my friend, whose going home for Aurora, to tag me along and tour me around the northern part of the province. The roadtrip was mostly around the Baler-Casiguran Highway and the Dilasag-Dinapigue Road that traverse the Dicadi area, and consists of decent views of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range on one side and the ocean on the other.
DINADIAWAN BEACH (Dipaculao, Aurora)
Our first stop was the long stretch of fine-sand beach in Dinadiawan within the municipality of Dipaculao, where we made a brief stop for lunch. Camping at night is great here too – two years ago during my first visit to the place, we saw bioluminous planktons along the shores of Dinadiawan. The intensity was not enough for a camera to capture it though — seemingly saying that there are things better seen with the naked eye.
There is also an undeveloped viewdeck overlooking the stretch of Dinadiawan shores.
CASAPSAPAN BEACH (Casiguran, Aurora)
When we arrived at a resort in Casapsapan Beach, accommodations were fully-booked. We were actually planning to sleep on our tents though — and on my hammock! The sea was gentle and the grayish-white sands shimmer from the reflections of the setting sun. Although there was a small crowd during that time, it’s not as rowdy as the more famous beach destinations elsewhere.
CANAWER BEACH (Dilasag, Aurora)
Are we there yet? Are we kinda lost? We are in Canawer na, aren’t we?
No. It’s not the pa-sosyal name of the the beach. After we left Casapsapan Beach, we headed for the northernmost town of Aurora: Dilasag. Canawer Beach faces Dilasag Bay and is considered as one of Aurora’s clearest waters. Our visit though was timed on a low tide. It seems peculiar however that the shore looks very calm and remains shallow for a far distance although this beach is one of the avant-garde to northeastern typhoons.
No entrance fee! Or on most parts, I think. Just choose a good spot (there are several built wooden tables and chairs) and keep the place clean, and you’re good. It just saddens me that although the beach was free, several picnicking families have left their garbage.
DILASAG MUNICIPAL HALL
As you would pass by several rural communities in Dilasag, you would see how brave in spirit the residents are. You could still see glimpses of the typhoon’s devastations from half-a-year ago — houses torn down to the ground, shattered schools that are now devoid of function. But never you would see broken spirits.
ERMITA HILL (Casiguran, Aurora)
Overlooking the town center of Casiguran, Ermita Hill houses the blue chapel of Nuestra Señora dela Ermita. This is different from Ermita Hill in Baler.
BULAWAN FALLS (Dinalungan, Aurora)
Located in the southernmost town of the northern trio, Bulawan Falls is one of the top destinations in Dinalungan. We just got the idea of getting here after seeing a road signage saying we are X kilometers away from the falls. Road improvement attempts can be seen; however, it is still far from completion — the road to Bulawan Falls has a long-rough, short-paved pattern. Entrance fee is P15, with a receipt from the municipal hall. There are bathrooms built to cater your toilet needs.
You would pass by several natural pools downstream before reaching Bulawan Falls itself. They say it’s one of the cleanest waterfalls in Luzon. I think it is, and a cold one too!
AMPERE BEACH (Dipaculao, Aurora)
Not all beaches are made of fine sand — and Ampere Beach is one of the existing testimonies. It is not a beach made for you to swim around though, as the strong waves might pound you down the stones. There is also a cave nearby, but can only be safely accessed during low tide.
I’m not really sure how Ampere Beach got its name, but I’m quite sure it’s not named after Andre-Marie Ampere (where the SI unit of ampere was named after).
DIARABASIN COFFEE (Dipaculao, Aurora)
Brgy. Diarabasin in Dipaculao is known in Aurora for its coffee plantations which are mostly robusta, arabica and liberica. A small coffee shop was established by the barangay along the Dicadi highway, so it won’t be a problem for a stop-over. The local blend, Diarabasin Coffee, is prepared by the shop by boiling the ground beans in a big pot before storing in a thermos. A cup of hot coffee costs P20. Packed roasted beans are also sold for P380/kg, while green beans are at P350/kg.
Maybe you’ve noticed it too: Aurora has a lot of landmarks, barangays and municipalities with names starting with “Di-“. Dipaculao, Diguisit, Dinadiawan, Dilasag, Dinalungan, Diniog, Ditawini, Dicasalarin, Ditumabo, Diarabasin, Dipasaleng, and many more. For most of these places, the prefix “di” correlates to abundance in the local dialect, e.g., there are a lot of coconut trees (niyog) in Diniog. For Dipaculao however, it was derived from “Dipac na-ulao”, where Dipac (a folkloric character) got dizzy (na-ulao). That shady drunkard!