The Climb to Ermita Hill

There was once a tsunami the wrecked the town of what is now Baler.The only survivors of such disaster were the seven families who climbed to the top of a hill which today is called Ermita Hill. Before it was Ermita Hill, it was Mt. Castillo. I don’t know (or I didn’t ask) where the name Ermita came from..

At the foot of the hill, you’d find the statues of the families who survived the tragedy. It’s like a commemoration of sorts. Could they be the families who repopulated the town and its surrounding municipalities? Hmm. Intriguing.

To reach the top, you’d have to conquer a set of uneven stairs. The fact that the stairs is uneven makes the climb a lot more exhausting. You’d have to deal with narrow steps and steps that are too high apart. The slope is also as steep as hell! I don’t know where that metaphor came from but something that is as punishable to the legs as that set of stairs merit a comparison to hell to me. Upon arrival at the top, there is still a short walk towards the ledges that will give you the most beautiful view of Sabang Beach.

The view makes the climb worth it. You see the length of one side of Baler, it’s beautiful landscape and the wonderful water that surrounds it. It really took my breath away and I wondered why I haven’t visited this place earlier. But, since we’re here already, I just savored the moment of seeing the beauty that is the Philippines. Then, I thought that I don’t want Baler to be commercialized like the other beaches of the country. I like it’s somewhat untouched beauty and the quietness of the place.

There is a park on top of the hill. We were resting when our tour guides / tricycle drivers informed us of another set of stairs that will lead us to a big white cross. Some where hesitant because of the initial climb we had. But, I thought, “fuck it, I’m here for adventure.” Well, there was really no “fuck it” because I don’t talk that way but it gives the emotions that accompanies the thought of being there for adventure.

The steps were easier to traverse this time around and it was fully covered by trees so we were not worrying about the heat. We were worrying about the length. The climb was almost twice as long as the initial climb. When we arrived at the top, we can only see trees so the majestic view was totally covered. There was a big white cross but its beauty wasn’t proportionate to the effort exerted in climbing. Definitely not so worth the view but the effort to try was enough.

Other than climbing, there wasn’t much to do. It could be a nice picnic grounds but would you subject your children to the effort of climbing? Still, the view was what we were there for and it definitely delivered the goods. It’s a great start to the tour of Baler and its surrounding municipalities.

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