Thursday, May 23, 2013

Travel to the Union of Ilokano Towns : La Union

TOUR DATE : JULY 1, 2012

I have heard of this province when I was in elementary (when I started to be really interested in Geography), specifically of the Agoo town, made famous by Judiel Nieva who claimed of personally seeing the Virgin Mary. Years later, said claim was disproved by the Catholic Church. That time, La Union already caught my imagination.

La Union Provincial Seal
My interest in La Union was renewed when I met someone, Hugo, from La Union. He was actively promoting his province online and I was one of those he successfully convinced to visit his province. It was a "bigla na lang naisip tour", a type of tour I love the most. No itinerary, minimal planning. Hugo agreed to tour me around La Union for one whole day (and later that day, I would be discovering that even he hasn't visited all of the towns of La Union we visited that day).

I left Cubao Saturday night, 6 PM (June 30, 2012) for La Union through Florida Bus Lines. I reached La Union at 11:30 PM and spent the night at Go Inn in Bauang. I met Hugo the next day, had a quick breakfast at McDonalds San Fernando (and met with a fellow librarian there, who coincidentally, a former workmate of Hugo), and started our tour.

We visited the San Fernando Cathedral first. The cathedral was also built during the Spanish occupation but the present facade is plastered to protect the stones under it from deteriorating. 

San Fernando Cathedral

Just a few steps from the cathedral is the city hall, and after taking some photos, we proceeded to the Provincial Capitol, nestled atop a hill, where breathtaking views of San Fernando City and its coast can be seen.

San Fernando City Hall
La Union Provincial Capitol
At the back of the capitol is a viewing deck where one can have a clear view of the city below and the vast expanse of the sea starting form the city's coastline.

After the San Fernando tour, we then go south, to the town of Santo Tomas, which started our whole day long La Union town-hopping.

Santo Tomas
After Santo Tomas, we headed to the town of Agoo, famous for it's church, and also of the incident already related above.

After Agoo, we decided to take a break and headed back to San Fernando for lunch. After lunch, we were on the move again, this time northward, to the town of Bangar, just a town away from the province of Ilocos Sur. I want to go see Ilocos right at that moment (upon learning that Ilocos Sur is already within my grasp) but decided against it because my budget will not be enough... :)

At Bangar, we glanced upon another beautiful church and town plaza. Some houses near the town plaza looks old, that is, ancestral and Spanish era houses.

After Bangar comes Balaoan. Arriving at the town proper, I immediately notice the "bullet statues" surrounding the flagpole at the front of the municipal hall. Hugo explained to me that the town's name came from "bala" or bullet, thus "bala-oan". 

Then Luna.

Luna's town complex is a reminiscent of a Spanish period Filipino pueblo. The town hall, the church, the town plaza, the elementary school and a private school beside the church all looks Hispanic to me and it's as if I was thrown back to the past. Instantly, Luna town proper became my second most favorite well-preserved town complex after Vigan.  

From the town proper, we rode a tryk to visit the Luna Belltower ruins. Too bad, we weren't able to visit Ermita, ruins of an older church built in the same town. I decided then that I will definitely be back at Luna to visit it.

Luna Belltower Ruins
From Luna, we hired a tricycle to bring us back to Balaoan then from there, we go straight to the next town, Bacnotan. While touring Bacnotan, rain came down pouring so we took shelter at the town church. Too bad, the church is closed and we saw no one around we can ask to open the church for us. Still, seeing the church facade is as good as seeing centuries of Bacnotan history. I actually like Bacnotan Church over many other church but I can't pinpoint the main reason why. Perhaps I was a Bacnoteno in my earlier life before the present? :)

After Bacnotan, we then proceeded to the town of San Juan, another town with a visually satisfying town proper. Actually, San Juan is famous for its huge waves (actually touted as one of Philippines surfing capital) and beautiful beaches but my limited time didn't allow me to check them out. At that time, visiting San Juan's town proper is as satisfying as visiting its beaches for me.

The Town Church, the Town Hall, the Town Library and other town buildings have the same color and touch of grandeur. It is apparent that all of them are all newly renovated and actually not Spanish Era buildings but the design and construction are beautiful, and still Hispanic. Not old but definitely beautiful.

After San Juan, we again rode the bus and this time, alight at sir Hugo's town, Bauang.

Bauang is another beautiful La Union town for me. The huge town Church can be seen from the highway. Fronting the Church is a very large plaza/park teeming with people. Some parts of the park is planted with beautiful plants and flowers. Because I am a Church buff, I checked out the town church's interior, exterior and bell tower, and man, I was satisfied with what I saw.

I would like to tour the whole of Bauang town proper then but it was already getting dark so I decided to already catch a bus to bring me back to Manila. I bid goodbye to sir Hugo and thanked him for his hospitality. I just decided that the time I finished visiting all the Philippine provinces, La Union is one of the first ones I'll be visiting again.

In my one day visit, I discovered that La Union has plethora of things to offer. And definitely, one day is not enough to see all those things. My travel has just touched the tip of all La Union has to offer and I am definite that other people might find many other things to do in La Union, and enjoy them too... ;) 

For individual churches pictures, you may visit : La Union Churches
For individual municipal hall pictures, you may visit : La Union Town Halls
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About the Author

I am ROMEL RAFOR JAIME, the man behind San Josenyong Gala. My travel blogger name came about because I am a proud resident of the City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. In real life, I am a licensed librarian who works in a college in Gapan, Nueva Ecija as a librarian and teaches general education subjects from time to time. My goal is to visit all the 81 provinces of the Philippines before visiting other countries. As of 2017, I have already visited 73... :)


  1. I like to explore La Union, Surf Capital of the North. :)

    1. Visit La Union sir.... You'll surely enjoy it... :)

  2. Wow, you made a tour of La Union, my home province! Actually you've seen more of it unlike me who just stayed in Agoo when I got to pay my relatives a visit. Judiel looks like a woman now ;)

  3. The Luna Belltower Ruins in La Union looks like mini leaning tower of Pisa :)

  4. wow busog na mga mata pati tyan hihi nkakatakam ung mga kakanin hihi kuya pasalubong hihihi ----janna abarca

  5. BellTower Ruins of Luna, La Union! Da Best! Mesmerizing clip. :)
    -juven jimenez

  6. The Luna belltower ruins.. conveys many cultural background of our country..
    -ronel cachero

  7. You can still feel the nature in La Union, unlike in some urban areas... :)
    - Juven Jimenez

  8. hi po! nice blog about your travel!
    just wanna ask po if 1 day nyo lang po naikot ang sa blogs nyo?
    ang saya.!
    visit po kami sa may.
    ty in advance.

    1. Opo, one day lang po yung mismong tour. Puro public transpo pa po yan. Kung may sasakyan po kayo, mas masaya at chill ang tour... :)

      Salamat po sa pagbisita sa blog! :)

  9. ayos talaga the best - frank