Ermita Hill is very accessible and one of Baler’s significant tourist destinations giving a glimpse of history and wonder. Spend half a day and experience these five Ermita Hill adventures.
1. TROMBA MARINA
At the base of the hill, just along the highway, you’ll find this sculpture called Tromba Marina. Did you know that Baler was almost wiped out in 1735 because of a tsunami? The Tromba Marina sculpture serves as a reminder of that incident. It depicts several residents climbing the hill and behind them is a giant wave.
Join them, climb with them and have your photos taken!
To read the complete Tromba Marina article, click here.
2. VIEWING DECK
From the Tromba Marina sculpture, you can choose to use the stairs of drive to the viewing deck area where the chapel and the tunnel are also located. We chose to drive because we needed to reserve our energy to reach the White Cross.
At the viewing deck, we saw the area surrounded with cottages. Go to the cottage of choice and from there you’ll get a panoramic view of Sabang Beach and the Pacific Ocean. There was what seemed like a heart-shaped islet at the mouth of the river leading to the sea.
I’m assuming that this islet becomes visible only during low tide, and vanishes during high tide. Another possibility is that it’s a river delta. Whatever it is, it’s something worth taking a picture of.
There’s a chapel at the viewing deck with a very interesting marker that spoke of a tunnel here leading to Santa Elena.
The marker describes the Ermita Hill Chapel, the ancient viewing point and tunnel:
The spot on which the chapel stands is believed to be the location of a viewing point from which the community of Baler, at the delta of the river, received advance warning of incoming threats in ancient times.
In those times, Baler community experienced prevalent raids by the moros. These raids must have occurred before and after the Spaniards, led by Adelantado Juan de Salcedo, first came in 1572. These raids must have stopped when a permanent garrison of Spanish soldiers was established in Baler.
The existence of what many believe to be an escape tunnel, starting from a location in Barangay Santa Elena leading up to this spot, is evidence of the prevalence of raids on the community of Baler in ancient time. The inhabitants of Baler devised this ingenious way to elude the raiders, and hide here at Ermita Hill.
A long time ago, when moro bandits raided the residents of Baler in the area called Santa Elena, they would escape to the tunnel there and this led to Ermita Hill. Beside the marker appeared what seemed like a small tunnel.
The tunnel is no longer usable though. But wouldn’t it be more fun if I searched for the other end of the tunnel? That I did, and you can click here to read the rest of that adventure.
5. WHITE CROSS
From the viewing deck area, we knew it was going to be a challenge to go up to the Ermita Hill Cross or The White Cross. It was going to be a long climb of 275 uneven steps.
On our way to the stairs, there were a lot of trees that provided shade from the sun.
Here’s the first surprise. We saw what looked like blue ants. Seeing new creatures up close always gives me that feeling of wonder.
And then, there was another surprise. We found this leaf that was shaped like a heart. It was the only leaf in the area with this shape. Whether it was a mutant leaf or a regular leaf from some heart tree in the area, it simply amazed us.
The cool breeze comforted our climb. I’m glad we drove up. Had we taken the stairs going to the viewing deck, and stairs again going to the cross, we might’ve gotten too exhausted to continue with the rest of our Baler activities.
After shedding buckets of sweat, we reached the peak. And there it was, the White Cross. The area was small, but it was quiet, serene and a great spot to reflect. It wasn’t what I had expected because the area wasn’t well-maintained and it wasn’t big enough to accommodate large crowds.
Good thing it was just the four of us there. There’s also nothing much to see because the top view was blocked by trees. I still thought it was worth it because it gave us a great cardio workout going up.
Here’s what’s written below the cross:
Vision of a Cross and Messages
What is greater than a cross for people to see and be reminded of its meaning:
The passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation.
The true meaning of forgiveness.
The suffering of a mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, seing (seeing) the pains and death of her son on the cross.
In our time of darkness, disillutionment (or did the message mean disillusionment), doubts, trivialities and pains.
Remember You Are Not Alone.
Ermita Hill has improved a lot over the years. It’s cleaner now. You can also find a lot of signages talking about the hill being a safe place in case of tsunamis. There are stores selling food, drinks and souvenirs.
Address: Ermita Hills, Brgy. Zabali, Baler, Aurora
For more Baler-related articles, click here.
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