La Union Post-Breakup, Pre-Grad School, and During the Pope’s Visit

The title has nothing major to do with what I’m about to share, yet I mention it to give you a better picture and time frame of when I visited La Union.

More than matters of the heart or seeking higher, higher education, what made me pack by bags and flee to the beach was liempo. I saw it listed down on the menu of the hostel we were to stay in and immediately, my soul was sold.

Moral of the story? Always, always say yes to food. It will lead you to great things.

Next thing I knew, we were boarding the early bus, all three of us tita friends, without having slept a wink. I remember sleeping my way through, only waking up to realize my mouth was wide open and next to a stranger who didn’t seem to care, or so I’d like to believe for the rest of my life.

By the way, I was with Joanna (slim legs on the left) and Anna (toned legs on the right). Unlike my well-funded and well-traveled friends, I was the type who hardly left tita city (or Quezon City, if I must say), so this “Elyu” trip is one of the first of what would soon be a series of beach trips.

We got to San Juan and the sun was everything I could ask for. The breeze was endless and the waves all-encompassing, and despite never learning how to swim, the beach felt like home to me.

Well, save for the fact that about 99% of the people there were ripped and tanned and my friends and I were so white and skinny. So I guess that reminded me that I wasn’t at home per se.

We stayed at Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel, and that time, it wasn't renovated yet, and the first thing you would see on their website is the liempo on the menu, calling at you. Not to worry, though, the bamboo dorm where we stayed at still exists. I only hear that it's often fully booked now more than ever, same as with the new Vessel Hostel; but there are many other accommodations nearby that you might like to try, such as the Circle Hostel (looks hip!) and the Urbiz Garden (a homey and cozy-looking bed and breakfast inn). 


Meanwhile, early into the night, we had a few drinks, and by few I mean one measly cocktail mix for each of us titas, who were all ready to go to bed at around ten. Ten in the evening? Yes, ten in the evening. The crowd was ideal for titas like us. Conversations were hushed but hearty. We dined with locals having dinner by the beach, unknowingly making me jealous of the fact that this was how their life was everyday.

While my delicate-as-a-soft bristled-Colgate-toothbrush body was ready to hit my double-deck, bamboo bunk bed, complete with the ultimate tita sleeping companion—the kulambo, my spirit was still alive and kicking, an unlikely occurrence for a tita like me. There was a band playing outside, and I couldn’t help wanting to be there. Knowing that my friends were already asleep, I went out alone.

I was spirited away. And lo and behold, a few minutes later, Anna was beside me, her tita instincts had apparently sensed that I had snuch away and she, too, wanted it to experience whatever was going on outside.

After the band packed up and the crowd dissolved into more intimate circles, Anna and I walked by the shore, sat there and braved the strong breeze. And this is when I finally see the majestic night sky that my friends from the province would often brag about. No communication wires, no city pollution, no tall buildings to block the view—the blanket of gazillions of stars were there for us to relish and I wished I could sleep every night beneath it.


In the morning I could hear the waves. And that is such a big deal because I have very, very poor hearing, so hearing the waves from my bunk bed is important information. I got up and walked to the shore. It was one of the best mornings of my life.

The sunset was a dream. As Camille Pilar writes it in a way I never can: “Today's sun was a molten globe. Everything it touched turned into liquid gold.” It's true, almost every afternoon in "Elyu." On the foreground were dogs and their humans playing catch by the shore. These days, whenever I see a photo of that beach’s sunset by the shore, I can recognize it still. It holds the same magic.


I surfed for the first time ever and felt I was infinite. Before this, the last high I got was from kayaking at noontime in Subic, and the piercing sun was madly destroying my skin and I loved it all.

In La Union during that time, the weather was gloomy, and at one point I felt cold and my nose got runny, and yet none of that could dampen my mood.

We finally arrived back in Manila and I never got to eat the liempo I was initially planning to dedicate my entire appetite to, yet I did not even notice that fact until now. So excuse me while I go head over to Darling's Canteen (unfortunately, no more Manang's) and order one.