24-Hour Escapade to La Union

IT was a long overdue beach vacation even if this author and her friend had been planning ahead of summer. Perhaps we were way too eager to hit the beach for in the last quarter of 2016 and the first months of 2017, all we had been doing was climb mountains.

So after a few delays, the date had been finally set: March 4. Perfect timing because the amihan, or the cold winds from northern Philippine neighbors, had started to end.

A week of researching had us initially set to chill at Cabongaoan Beach in Burgos, Pangasinan. By Thursday evening, I was able to make a detailed and timed itinerary complete with things to do and bring. But as always—this trip involving me and my travel buddy Xerlyn—our plan had been thrown out of the window by Friday. We realized it was way too meticulous to go to Cabo Beach when we only had the Satuday to spend (we were set to be ninang at a Christening on Sunday).

The cold and crashing waves of Urbiztondo Beach in San Juan, La Union
And so, right there and then, a complete overhaul was made. We would instead head for San Juan, La Union to surf. Because, unlike in Cabo where we had to transfer from bus to jeep to tricycle, in Urbiz, we only had to alight from the bus and walk to the beach.

This also proved to me that Xerlyn and I were NOT into planned and laidback trips. Our first experience like this was in June 2016 when we wanted to spend a day at Patar Beach in Bolinao, but we found ourselves island-hopping in Hundred Islands in Alaminos. Both municipalities are in Pangasinan.

But really, this is what I loved most about our travel tandem. We could be so random and carefree but still, managed to enjoy every minute of it. So here’s 1,440 minutes—or 24 hours—of it.

The tranquil and transparent waters of Bauang Beach in Bauang 
10 pm: Boarded Viron bus in Cubao station after securing, lo and behold, 14 cans of beer and snacks and sweets. Yes, we had set our priorities clear.

4 am: Arrived at Brgy. Urbiztondo in San Juan, and missed the strip of beach. So we navigated with Google Maps and walked a good 500 meters until…

4:30 am: …we reached Flotsam and Jetsam across the national highway. The accommodating security guard, after telling him we wouldn’t check in, led us to the beach front.

5 am: We could hear the roar of the crashing waves but could not see them because it was still dark. So we just chilled and watched the stars at dawn.

5:30 am: Searched for a spot to set up camp while it was still dark so no one could stop us. Haha.

Our tent was just outside the walls of a house
(more likely a hostel) still on construction
6 am to 9 am: Rested, had our sandwiches for breakfast, and slept. Also took this opportunity for picture-taking while most fellow tourists were still in their resort beds.

But during this time, we also realized that we couldn’t really swim in the strong waves of San Juan. So, again, we decided that we would spend the other half of the day in another beach that was conducive for swimming. Researching, we considered Luna’s and San Fernando’s beaches. But, because we would head home by evening, the best place really was in Bauang for it would get us southbound to Metro Manila and not northbound.

Xerlyn listening attentively to our instructor Kelvin
9:30 am to 10 am: Surfing 101! Our instructor was Kelvin. Glad that the surfing had resulted to livelihood for locals like him. And even if it wasn’t my first time (had tried surfing in Baler), it felt like it was.

First time luck catching the waves
10 am to 11am: Time to surf! Both Xerlyn and I managed to stand on our first waves. Woohoo!

12pm: We lunched out at a local eatery along the highway. There, Ilocano food were fittingly served and I couldn’t ask for anything else! The Ilocano in me was delighted to eat dinakdakan (similar to sisig but with pig’s brain), dinardaraan (or diniguan but with pig intestines instead of meat); and the infamous papaitan (a savory stew with beef innards). That’s authentic Ilocano food dear readers. Our total meal, P103 with one cup of rice each!

Our authentic Ilocano lunch matched with refreshing flavored beer
1pm: Boarded a jeep bound for San Fernando where we detoured at the wet market to buy OUR bagnet. Again, priorities. After which, we found ourselves in another jeep bound for Bauang.

2pm: Finally Bauang Beach where we set ourselves in the nearest available cottage and slept. We embodied the true meaning of “chill.”

3 pm: The sun still high up in the sky, we postponed swimming for another hour and got back to eating our snacks and drinking our beer.

Inspired by a scene featuring Maja Salvador in the film I’m Drunk, I Love You
4pm: Picture taking for the Beer, Bagnet, Beach photo inspired by the film I’m Drunk, I Love You, which was mostly set in La Union. Now you understood why beer and bagnet were prioritized in this trip.

5pm to 6pm: Swimming until a picturesque sunset. Because remember, La Union is facing West Philippine Sea. Our West Philippine Sea. 

At awe with the natural beauty and bounty of OUR waters, the West Philippine Sea
6pm to 7pm: Wash up!

7pm to 9pm: Dinner of our remaining bread and spread. And of course, inuman time. We filled the quiet Bauang neighborhood with (subdued) music and laughter. The night sky bloomed with stars for us, while the moon shone bright too, reflected in the sea.

10 pm: Homebound. Upon leaving our cottage, a tricycle deep in the night was just outside the beachfront, like it was waiting there for us. Haha! Once we were along the national highway again, in a matter of 3 minutes, a Dominion bus bound for Cubao came. And by 4am, I was home.

Special shout out once again to my best friend Xerlyn. Hope we never "graduate" from our epic adventures.


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