THE PROVINCE OF AURORA is a province in Central Luzon Region of the Philippines and its capital is Baler, bordered in the north by Isabela and Quirino ; northwest side by Nueva Vizcaya, West side by Nueva Ecija province, southwest by Bulacan, south side by Quezon and in the east side is the pacific ocean. The province was named after the wife of President Manuel L. Quezon, Aurora A. Quezon.
Before the arrival of the first Spanish explorer in 1572, Aurora already has established towns of Casiguran, Baler and Infanta. In 1609, Franciscan missionaries established their mission in Baler and Casiguran. However, due to lack of manpower the mission was handed over to the Augustinians and Recollects in 1658 but was later turned over to Friars minor in the year 1703.
Aurora used to be a part of Quezon or Kalilaya province. However, in 1749 the provincial capital was transferred from Kalilaya to Tayabas. Thus, since then the name of the town is also known as Tayabas. Between the years 1855 to 1885, Aurora was known as “El Principe” and its capital is Baler. Then upon the arrival of the Americans in 1890 a military government was established but on June 12, 1902 it was changed to a civil government and placed under the governance of Tayabas.
After World War II, the sub-province of Aurora was created as a means to the eventual creation of an independent province from the province of Quezon. In 1951, Baler, Casiguran, Dilasag, Dipaculao, Dinalongan, Dingalan, Maria Aurora and San Luis officially became a sub-province of Aurora through Republic Act 646. Then on August 13, 1979 by virtue of Batas Bambansa Blg. 7, the late President Ferdinand Marcos founded the province of Aurora and made Baler as its capital.
Aurora Province has a total land area of 323,954 hectares. The area is generally mountainous with 30% flatlands and 230,000 hectares or 70% is forest land. Land use is predominantly residential with 2,388 hectares of the total land area, institutional, commercial, recreational, and industrial and roads.
The province also now has a population of 173,797 in 31,340 households. Approximately 75.85% percent of the total populace lives in rural areas, while the remaining 24.15% lives in urban areas. Population growth of Aurora is 2.6% and population density of 51.5 persons per square kilometer.
Aurora’s climate is characterized by rainfall which is evenly distributed throughout the year and has a seasonal occurrence of tropical cyclones. Rainfall is heaviest during the months of January, February, April, October, and November, while August is the driest month. Temperature ranges from 19.3 °C to 20.4 °C during cold months in January and February.
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY IN AURORA
The primary industry in the province is agriculture with major crops such as coconut, palay or rice, banana, camote or sweet potato, calamansi or Philippine citrus, corn cassava, peanuts, pineapple, coffee, eggplant and abaca. About 49,991 hectares, or 15% of the provincial land area, consist of cultivated land. Aurora is also into poultry and livestock such as chicken, swine, duck, carabao, goat and cattle.
Forestry and fishing is a significant industry as well particularly in making products of rattan, nito, sabutan, luknoy, puroy and pandan. The province also has an abundance of mineral deposits such as copper, iron, chromate, manganese, gold and nickel found in the Sierra Madre area, as well as non-metallic minerals, including guano, black sand, cement, marble, carbon and silica.
Currently, tourism also helps in the economic gains of Aurora with its many natural tourist attractions.
ART AND CULTURAL HERITAGE IN AURORA
The people of Aurora in Casiguran celebrate Moro-Moro Zarzuela in Baler annually on February 19. This is a combined presentation of drama and dance in lieu of Moro-Moro or Moslem-Christian conflict. Actors and actresses participate in the most sensitive and dangerous sword-play. Only beautiful, graceful ladies and handsome men are chosen and trained for this performance.
The province is known for its Virgin Coconut Distilled Wine or “Lambanog” and Coconut Vinegar. Lambanog is made from the dripping sap or "tuba" of coconut tree flowers. The sweet and frothy "tuba" is cooked through a strict process of natural fermentation and distillation that produces the chemical-free "lambanog". Coconut vinegar is also made from "tuba". The "tuba" is naturally fermented between 60 to 90 days and when it has already reached its natural acidity level it is then boiled without preservatives and chemical additives to produce the best tasting vinegar.
MUNICIPALITIES OF AURORA
Aurora is subdivided into 8 municipalities and 152 barangays:
The Beach is located in Ampere, Dipaculao and tourists can see smooth rocks of various sizes and darker color.
This islet is off the coast of Barangay Zabali, Baler.
Baler Catholic Church
The Church is also located in Poblacion, Baler. This was also used as a Spanish garrison and later seiged by Filipino insurgents.
Balete Park & Millennium Tree
This 600 year old tree is situated in Maria Aurora and was designated as the "Millennium Tree" of The Philippines. It is the largest tree of its kind in Asia, and it would take 60 grown men, holding one another at arm's length, to encircle its gigantic trunk. This tree has generated national media attention and is now the most visited tourist spot in Aurora.
This Spring is located in Barangay Real, San Luis with natural terraced steps overflowing with spring water.
This Beach is covered with gray pebbles and smooth, fist-size stones.
This is a bay that is ideal for windsurfing. Many foreigners have already built their vacation homes along the coast.
Cemento Beach & Reef
This Reef is located in Barangay Cemento, Baler with white sand, seashells, and crushed corals. This beach is also ideal for challenging surfing, snorkeling and wall diving.
The Falls is situated in Barangay Pimentel, San Luis.
Doña Aurora Memorial Shrine
The Shrine is located in Poblacion, Baler in honor of Doña Aurora Aragon Quezon, and the wife of Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon. She was known for her social welfare contributions and like her husband, she was born in the town of Baler. She died in an ambush on the mountain roads of Nueva Ecija leading to the province that now bears her name.
This Hill is situated in Casiguran town and provides a view of the entire Poblacion area, coast of Casiguran Bay and barrios nearby.
Lt. Commander James Gilmore Marker
This is a marker placed in the wall of the Baler Catholic Church in honor of Lt. Commander James Gilmore.
Quezon House Location
This is situated in Barangay Cemento, Baler and it used to be the vacation house of President Manuel L. Quezon. Today, only the foundation and a cement staircase remain as the house was destroyed by a typhoon.
Quezon Memorial Park
This Park was developed in honor and in memory of the late President Manuel L. Quezon.
This glass coffin encasing a statue of Jesus Christ is located in Baler. Local claims that this icon possesses miraculous powers and grants miracles to those who believe.
Other places to visit:
SPRINGS AND BEACHES
NATURAL CAVES AND HILLS
SEAIR has morning flights to and from Manila-Baler every Friday and Monday with travel time of 45 minutes. Planes land on an airfield in San Luis currently maintained and manned by the Philippine Army. It can also accommodate light chartered aircraft and helicopters.
The province can be accessed from Manila via two routes, the Canili-Pantabangan road and the Baler-Bongabon Road. The former leads into the town of Maria Aurora. Some portions of the road are very steep. The latter route leads to the town of San Luis and ends in Baler. This route is more commonly used. The use of public transportation is recommended for traveling to Baler. Genesis Transport Bus provides the only direct route to Baler from Metro Manila. Its terminal is located along EDSA in Pasay City.
To get around Aurora by sea, passenger boats depart from Duungan, located in a river leading to Baler Bay and Baler Poblacion. Trips to Dipaculao, Dinalungan, Casiguran and Dilasag are available.