SAN FERNANDO, La Union-Formed from the union of three adjoining provinces, La
Union is the gateway to the rich cultural heritage of the Ilocano people.
One hundred forty six years ago, La Union emerged as a unified area of several towns of
Ilocos Sur, Pangasinan and Benguet. The fusion resulted in a settlement that was to
become the Province of La Union, the Spanish term for “union”—now the hub of
development in Region I.
La Union, a melting pot of various cultures and traditions, is situated along the coastline of
the China sea bounded by Pangasinan in the south, Ilocos Sur in the north and the
Cordillera in the west.
The province is made up of 20 municipalities and 575 barangays. The capital town of San
Fernando is around four hours by land or 45 minutes by plane from Manila and one hour
and 30 minutes from the summer capital of the Philippines—Baguio City via Naguillan Road,
an all-weather concrete highway.
The province boasts of two national parks, the Agoo-Damortiz National Seashore Park in
Pugo, Sto. Tomas, a grayish to black sand beach stretch from Aringay town in the North
extending southward to Rosario, and the 300-hectare Marcos Park with its light forested
mountain land in Agoo. However, these two parks were neglected.
Jinggoy Malay, DOT Region I director said a variety of “must see” places ranging from the
natural to the religious are found in this “gateway to the north.” From Agoo, stretching
northward to San Juan, the coastline is dotted with numerous beach resorts, offering
varied types of accommodations and facilities. Restaurants boast fresh seafood specialties
and excellent local and international cuisine.
Malay said “One of La Union’s biggest selling point is the people here because they are
warm and hospitable. Plus our gift of nature—beaches, mountains, existing facilities such
as seaport, an airport, good hotel accommodations, excellent telecommunications system.”
Paringao, Bauang is known for its wide, open beaches and calm water, while Urbiztondo,
San Juan, is internationally famous for its yearround surfing waves. Poro Point, San
Fernando and the Bauang Reef are the best areas to scuba dive and snorkel.
Bagulin’s, La Union’s highest point, at 1,200 feet above sea level, is ideal for trekking and
mountain biking. San Nicolas beach is historical because it served as an entry point of
Japanese traders during the pre-Spanish period. Darigayos-Paraoir Beach was Camp
Spences, a USAFIP-NL headquarters during WW2.
In Barangay Parian, just a short distance from San Fernando town proper is the remnants
of the first church of the capital town, built from coral in 1674. The place is called Pindangan
Ruins (Pindangan is the Ilocano term for “daingan”, a drying place for fish). This was the
center of the settlement that was to became the capital town of San Fernando.
The Museo Iloko located beside the Agoo Municipal building, houses religious artifacts,
antique furniture, porcelain wares and miniature dolls depicting Filipino traditions. The
Museo de la Union can be found west-northwest of the Provincial Capitol and showcases
archaeological finds in the province.
The town of San Juan is famous for its decorative clay accessories done mostly by female
potters. In Luna, natives here as a means of their livelihood, pick up unique stones in the
seashore sell them at R28 (a four-gallon can) and are sold to Japanese and is being
transformed into a wire. In Bangar, 39 kilometers north of San Fernando, manually
operated wooden looms are still used to weave blankets.
Traces of historical and cultural significance include the former Wallace Air Station, Basic
Ridge, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Chinese Pagoda and Freedom Park, the age-old
techniques of making native wine in Naguillan, brooms in Bagulin and Burgos.
Overlooking the San Fernando Bay, Chinese and Filipino faithful troop to Macho Temple. It
houses a replica of the Virgin of Caysasay, found by fishermen in Taal Lake, Batangas.
Handmade products, such as blankets, soft brooms, pottery, baskets, antique furniture,
and shellcraft, are displayed at the La Union Trade Center beside the San Fernando City
Hall. Local produce such as guapples, mangoes and native sweets like “tinudok” and
patupat” can also be savored at many public markets and roadside stalls.
An annual Holy Week event called “Rambak” (celebration) promises an exciting array of
activities anticipated by local and foreign tourists. (To be continued)
[ Wallace Air Station Wiki | Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Wiki ]