La Union, Philippines, April 2019 Trip Vlog

La Union, Philippines, April 2019 Trip Vlog


La Union is a province in the northern part
of the Philippines, in the Ilocos Region. I went to Urbiztondo Beach in the town of
San Juan for three days in April 2019. This beach has a small strip of hostels and food
places catering to the burgeoning surf scene there. Day 1. Arrived around 5:30 AM and managed
to snag a room last minute at The Little Surfmaid Resort on the main strip of Urbiztondo Beach
in San Juan. I called various places when I arrived and this was the only place with
a vacancy. I had to wait till 2PM to check in though,
so I left my backpack with them and walked around the beach and took some photos, then
had breakfast at this food park type collection of cafes and eateries. Afterwards I took a tricycle to the neighboring
city of San Fernando, maybe a 15 minute tricycle ride South to check out the Ma-Cho Temple.
Ma Tzu/ Ma-Cho is a Chinese sea goddess who’s the patron saint of fishermen. I’m using
the term “patron saint” loosely, I’m aware that’s a Catholic terminology. This
being a coastal town, and located north of the Philippines, it’s close enough to Taiwan
and parts of Southern China where this sea goddess is revered. I’ve seen other temples dedicated to this
sea deity before in Taiwan. She’s also widely revered there, especially in coastal places
where fishing is or was a major part of their livelihood. There was inexplicably a Ronald McDonald statue
sitting on a bench in the temple. Went back to the Little Surfmaid to nap and
went out again later in the afternoon for a late lunch and to walk around the beach. The surf isn’t huge compared to Hawaii standards, but people still had a good time. I love vintage planes, I even made a special
trip to an Airplane Graveyard in Bangkok in 2018. And just the day before going to La
Union, I was just in Clark, in Angeles, Pampanga where I shot some vintage warplanes in the
field that was formerly Clark Airbase. So imagine my surprise when I came upon a
seemingly abandoned rusty husk of an old plane just sitting on the beach behind some ratty
barbed wire. How random. This was near the end of the beach. I left
it and walked to the closest establishment I saw, three minutes away, and imagine my
surprise when I spotted yet another vintage plane out of the blue. This was more well
maintained. Turns out the place is called Charlie’s Hangar Surf Hostel, and whoever
Charlie is, he likes planes and got this decommissioned Douglas DC-3 as a nice little prop for his
restaurant/ hostel. The sun had set by then so after taking a few more photos, I left. I walked to Flotsam & Jetsam, one of the more
well known establishments in San Juan’s Urbiztondo beach, and had a pizza there. It’s pretty bustling and full of millennials. Day 2. I woke up late and walked around the
beach taking photos. At 9:30 A.M., the sun was out in full force. April to May is the
peak of Philippine summer, and it was April 29, 2019. I didn’t realize sand could get
that hot and I was traipsing along barefoot since my flip flops would sink into the sand. I went back to the Great Northwest food park
for breakfast and got a yogurt/ fruit bowl. It’s kind of a sad little bowl considering
the price. Now mangoes and bananas are very cheap ingredients and they were in season.
The price was not technically expensive, but it IS Metro Manila pricing for a rural town
for a small bowl of yogurt, a smattering of chia seeds and granola and fruits that are
very cheap to obtain. Usually rural prices are half the big city’s prices, and while
they do pay for rent and staff, there’s no air conditioning. Now compare that with this fruit/ greens bowl
I got in Canggu, Bali four months before in December 2018. It’s maybe ⅓ more expensive
but you get so much stuff, and not just cheap ingredients too. This place is trying to go
for the Bali beach wholesome/ healthy breakfast bowls vibe, but it’s not gonna get there
charging big city prices for two round balls of mango and 5 slices of banana (that, remember,
are in season then and very cheap to obtain). It tastes fine though. I walked around again and since my breakfast
was too meagre, I got some noodle soup and Vietnamese coffee at The Coffee Library. They even had this collection of cool coffee making gadgets. After lunch, I went on a tricycle ride to
various places in La Union. I spotted Camp Avenue’s sign on the way out of San Juan
and asked the tricycle driver to stop so I can take a look. It’s near the end of the
San Juan beach strip, in a quieter area away from the main dining establishments. There
are some non air conditioned huts for a “roughing it” vibe. The tricycle driver took me to the municipality
of Luna, north of San Juan. Apparently there’s this Art Gallery literally in the middle of
nowhere that was opened by a Korean. It’s called Stone Hand Art Gallery, and it’s
full of bizarre sculptures, e.g. of owls, phalluses, and some trick eye optical illusion
paintings. Next stop in Luna was a watchtower/ baluarte.
It’s centuries old and stands on a pebble beach. The stones and pebbles here are known
to be good quality and people take them to sell. There aren’t many left. After the baluarte/ watchtower, the tricycle
driver took me to the Santa Catalina de Alejandria Church. This parish was founded in 1690 in
a different barrio in Luna, but was transferred in 1741 to its present site. Yes, I’m just
reading this from Wikipedia. This statue of the Virgin Mary is 6’4”
(1.92m) and is the tallest publicly known Marian image in the Philippines.
On the way to the next stop in Luna that the tricycle driver wanted to take me to, I saw
a small sign for a war monument and asked him to stop. Not many people know or remember,
but La Union and the North hosted many battles during World War II. This camp is in Luna, in Darigayos. Actually
the name of the barrio where the Sta. Catalina parish I showed previously was originally
located before moving to its present site in 1741. This was the base of operations of
the USAFIP, NL during the liberation of Luzon. After this unscheduled stop, the tricycle
driver took me to Noble Tower, which was a resort/ hotel with an unusual structure. It’s right by the Darigayos Bridge. Final stop in was Immuki Island, in Balaloan,
which is a bit south of Luna, but still north of San Juan. The tricycle driver decided to
make this the last stop as driving south will take us back to San Juan, where my hotel is. According to this information placard, the
name references female genitalia, but the explanation is written so vaguely. I don’t
really get the pun. Like the sea slugs are named “babao” in Pangasinense, but called
something else, “uki” in Ilocano, but this sea slug word is also the same word for
female genitalia? Anyway apparently parts of the island kind
of look like female genitalia, so, just let your imagination run wild. After the sun had set, we continued on south
back to San Juan. I had dinner at an outdoor burger joint called Mad Monkeys. Pretty good.
After walking around the beach I got hungry again and had a snack before going back to
The Little Surfmaid. Day 3. Had breakfast at Clean Beach Coffee,
it’s also in the Urbiztondo beach strip in San Juan, one establishment over from Flotsam
& Jetsam where I had pizza in the first night. Then walked around a bit, took photos, and
had lunch again at the Great Northwest food park at Sabong Chicken. “Sabong” is the
Filipino word for cockfighting. By the way, YouTube deleted my June 2017 cockfighting
video (which was NOT promoting the sport FYI), so I’ll link to my reupload on Facebook
in the description below. Had a coconut ice cream and mango dessert,
and coffee after, then went south of San Juan this day with the same tricycle driver from
Day 2. Remember, day 2 I went north of San Juan. On our way south, we passed by this mini war
monument in a traffic island in San Fernando City, the same city 10 – 15 minutes south
of San Juan where the Ma Tzu temple is from Day 1. I asked the tricycle driver to stop
just like i did at Camp Spencer (day 2) and hopped off to snap some quick photos. He told
me to hurry up as he’s illegally parked. This is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, remembering
soldiers, fallen or otherwise, whose names have been lost to history. Remember, La Union
shed a lot of blood as it was the site of a lot of campaigns, land and water, during
World War II. Off we went after to Pindangan Ruins, still
in San Fernando. It’s the ruins of an 18th century church. Now there’s a little chapel
run by the Carmelite sisters who look after the ruins in modern days. The ruins are reportedly
haunted, remember there were many battles in this province and war dead. Headed south some more to the municipality
of Bauang where we checked out a vineyard. Apparently they grow grapes for wine here
although the bottle wines they sold here were actually grown and fermented in Benguet, which
is more Northern and colder. It was pretty sunny in that grape farm, I don’t know if
it’s ideal temperature for growing fine wines. On the way back north to San Juan, I saw a
cool looking decently maintained old house so I asked the tricycle driver to make a quick
stop. It’s the house of an artist who’s a hometown boy, according to the placard.
Apparently he died at the age of 33, which is younger than my age now. This is a classic
Philippine style house, with capiz windows. On the road again and I spotted a neat church
so I asked the driver to make another unscheduled stop. The facade was bathed golden because
of the hour. It’s the Church of Sts Peter & Paul, still in Bauang. It was founded in
1580 and has been damaged and rebuilt a few times due to earthquakes. This is the San Pedro Bell that the Americans
took in 1901 as part of their spoils of war. They returned it in 2016. After that, the tricycle driver took me to
the Filipino Chinese Friendship Pagoda. It’s a viewing station built atop a hill that allows
you to see the La Union skyline. There’s also this huge La Union sign below. Made it back to San Juan for my final sunset there. Had a hamburger at Mad Monkeys and left San Juan to go back to Metro Manila around 9 PM. Hope you enjoyed this video. Please thumb
up this video if you did. Which spot did you like best? Please subscribe to be updated
when I upload again. See you next video!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *