BALER -- It’s only a few hours from Manila, accessible by bus or private car, but the town of Baler takes you away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
And if you’re a tourist, it has everything you need — from historical landmarks, breathtaking nature trails (including a 600-year old Balete tree), to waves aplenty for surfing or swimming. In a span of only a few years, the seaside town has grown tremendously with an expansive selection of dining and accommodation options that cater to a broad range of visitors and their budgets.
While most would prefer beach-side accommodations, it’s the alleyways and streets at the back of the beach that most exemplify Baler’s laid-back atmosphere.
Cube Baler is found in one of those streets. Just a 5-minute walk from the beach (shuttle service to Sabang beach is provided to guests), this property is one of the newest resorts in Baler and was designed to be hip and modern, using prefabricated container vans for its 80 rooms.
Rooms are much wider than the usual widths of container housing— more of a cube, rather than a rectangle. These rooms, designed in 2-bed or 3-bed configurations (there are also dorm rooms with two bunk beds for 4 people) are marketed for either a barkada, a family, or a company outing.
If you’re a couple, they’ll be happy to bring the beds together for a very wide bed. Non-suite rooms are 21 sqm, so the trio room where we stayed in had very little space in between each bed, but the beds were firm and comfortable.
Every room had big sliding doors as main points of entry and a small deck. Suite rooms (42 sqm) not only have a little dining table, but their deck also leads directly to the swimming pool, which is one of the draws of Cube. Because when it’s too hot to frolic by the beach, it’s very relaxing to lounge by the pool, especially while you sip drinks from the Cube Al Fresco restaurant.
Cube Al Fresco is the resort’s main restaurant. Situated poolside, it serves a buffet breakfast mostly during weekends (or if there’s a company event), and while it has a limited menu, it was surprisingly filled with choices that range from the usual Filipino favorites, kid-friendly classics, to even hipster vegan fare.
During our buffet breakfast at Cube Al Fresco, we had these options: eggs done three ways (poached, scrambled, and in a shakshuka), a congee station that had the works (I found the addition of furikake to topping options inspired), a "fried fish" section that celebrates Baler’s seafood (if there’s biniklad na dilis, you must get as much as you can, these are crispy delicious thin lightly salted dried fish), two or three options of usual breakfast fare (tocino, baler longganisa, or corned beef), a bread station with jam and Nanay Pacing’s peanut butter, as well as a selection of fruit.
If you’re going ala carte, they do have a breakfast all-day menu. Good Morning Surfers may be your best bet if you’re feeling ravenous with a huge mound of garlic rice, eggs done your way, atchara and your choice between Filipino breakfast favorites like longganisa, biniklad na dilis, beef tapa, pork tocino, daing na bangus, or corned beef.
Recommended lunch or dinner options include the Chicken Pork Adobo loaded with garlic and red bell peppers, or the Beef Caldereta which had a peanut butter enriched tomato sauce.
For a side dish to these bowls or as an appetizer, order the Baler’s Famous Pako Salad. Cube’s version has the usual (pako, red onion, tomato, salted egg, bagoong balayan) but adds biniklad na dilis, which just takes it to another notch.
For something to snack or pair with your drinks, there’s the healthy and filling Vegan Nachos that had olives, chili tofu (instead of ground meat), cauliflower puree (for cheese sauce), tomato salsa, and BBQ sauce. As a vegan option, it worked as I didn’t miss the cheese nor the meat, but it was a too generous serving for two people, so best to be shared with friends.
The treasure trove where I found most of my favorites was in the kids section. Initially, the Fish and Chips in the kid’s menu felt misplaced, as the accompanying sauces were a tamarind dip and a mango salsa, which are hardly kid-friendly flavors. Although upon tasting, especially with the tamarind sauce, it’s a dish that a kid or an adult can undoubtedly enjoy. The same can be said about the Chicken Lollipops, that were big, juicy, flavorful and had a great crust on them.
AWAY FROM IT ALL
As Costa Pacifica’s sister resort, the Cube offers no-fuss accommodation at more economical prices. Room inclusions include an LCD television, bathroom amenities, complimentary wifi access (strong near the restaurant), hot and cold shower, complimentary use of the swimming pool, as well as breakfast and water.
The Cube presents an irresistible option both to those who truly relish being away from it all, and to those looking for a jump-off point to many of Baler’s activities.
Cube Resort is located on Buton St., Baler, Aurora.