The cool morning weather in La Union was not enough to contain us in our beds as we were excited to hit the beach. Our itinerary for the day was a chill beach day so there was really no need to rush through the morning. Nevertheless, we could not contain our excitement so we were off early.
As from the previous day, our main concern was breakfast. As the town of San Juan buzzes late in the morning, there were no establishments open that serves breakfast early so we had to content ourselves with a neighbourhood store or “turo-turo” for our morning fix. But I would have to say that they serve good lomi – a noodle soup dish.
Surf’s up, Urbiztondo!
As we headed to the sandy shores of Urbiztondo, the waters were already filled with would-be surfers waiting for the right wave to ride. The waters were flat making it ideal for those who wanted to learn to ride the waves. Interestingly, none of my companions were eager to hit the beach except for my little girl.
Urbiztondo is the entry point of the Ilocos region’s surf spots. It is ideal for beginners because of its waves and short rides. People from Manila and nearby areas flock to the place to learn surfing or to just enjoy the sun and sands of La Union.
On the left side of the beach is a rocky area which I am presuming were dead coral reefs. Our group spent most of our time there taking pictures. I stumbled upon a group that was trying to catch fish on the small pools surrounded by the rocks. My little girl also had her own share of trying to catch fish before I allowed her to swim by the beach.
San Fernando City
With a little more time left, we headed to San Fernando City. The city is Ilocos Sur’s capital – the financial, political, and industrial center of the region. Founded in 1786, the city was a vital point during the country’s liberation during World War 2 because of Poro Point. Presently, the city is an economic center in Ilocos that is both accessible by land, sea, and air.
San Fernando Town Park
Right smack at the center of the city is the town park – an open space park with a court and a grandstand. I guess it is the melting pot of the city as most travellers heading to either North or South would pass by the plaza. And most people heading up to San Fernando will probably be dropped off here. It is the typical town plaza only bigger.
We were fortunate to have visited the city just in time for their city fiesta and the park being at the center of activities was also the venue for their annual trade fair. Each municipality had their own booths that featured their products. My impression of the trade fair was that the province of La Union had effectively managed OTOP – One Town One Product program as each town was able to showcase its unique produce.
Exploring the park further, I had to stop as a historical marker caught my attention and, as a Philippine history enthusiast, I had to stop to check it out. The marker was a reminder of the Battle of San Fernando when American Forces was able to fend off the Japanese Forces paving the way for the liberation of the city.
Church of San Fernando, La Union
Also known as St. William Cathedral, the church is the home of the Diocese of San Fernando of La Union. The first stone structure was completed in 1786 but was destroyed during the city’s liberation in World War 2. Afterwhich, it was reconstructed and rededicated in February 1949.
The Church, more than a religious entity in the city, also played a significant role in history as it also served as a refuge for revolutionaries who occupied the church in 1898 during their fight against Spanish forces.
The simple façade of the church complemented the interiors of the church. The altar looked simple and yet magnificent with its gold-colored pulpit. The yellow lights made it glow. The altar had a crucifix as a central figure.
This Taoist Temple, that stands about 70 meters above sea level, is open to both worshippers and non-worshippers. It was built in 1975 through the efforts of the city’s Chinese community and has since attracted tourists in the area. The temple is adorned by lions and dragons and boasts of a wide courtyard complete with carvings of the “Chinese 18 Saints”.
The temple stands majestically at the center of the compound, complete with a Bell Tower and Drum Tower. One can enter the temple where one can observe local Chinese practice their beliefs and how they profess their faith to Mazu, the goddess of the sea. Interestingly, she has a counterpart in the Roman Catholic belief – the Our Lady of Casaysay in Taal, Batangas. Every year, the image of Mazu is processioned to St. Martin in Taal and back to La Union where a cultural presentation awaits believers.
One of the amazing things about Ma-Cho Temple is that it gives a great bird’s eye view of the city and Poro Point. I enjoyed just sitting down in complete silence, enjoying the sea breeze, while watching the city of San Fernando from afar.
Post Travel Notes:
As I took my bus seat as we were heading back to Manila, I was happy with how the weekend turned out to be.
Yes, La Union is one of the country’s surfing spot.
But it is more than just a surfing spot, it has a lot of adventures waiting to be discovered.
I was glad that the trip gave me, my fellow La Union viajeros, and our Instagram followers, a different and fresh perspective of La Union. It has history that the local government should take notice and preserve as it can bring great economic opportunities to the local communities. It has an untouched bounty of natural beauty that if managed right can offer a great eco-tourism activity to complement its surfing activities. The short walking trip in San Fernando piqued my curiosity and I am thinking of heading back this time to check the city.
More than just the surf and the sand, La Union has more to offer.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.