La Union beyond surfing
LA UNION, Philippines – Gray, black, and beige pebbles make up the beach. Each of smooth surface; firm yet soothing beneath my feet. As I gazed at the endless expanse of pebbles, with locals picking those market material and the thought of impending construction of a coal plant nearby, I couldn’t help but wonder about their fate. (READ: Coal plant project in La Union sparks protests)
The town of Luna in La Union is known for pebbly beaches. Barangay Victoria's pebble beach is a fishermen’s domain. Bamboo rafts line on the pebbled shore, with a fishing net resting on each. The waves' high-energy level seems not to bother them, just like the pebble pickers that stay under the heat of the sun to make ends meet.
One of the pebble pickers, a mother, said it is a hard job, though.
"Mahirap kasi nasa ilalim ka ng initan tapos magkano lang kikitain namin sa isang araw (It's difficult because you're under the heat of the sun but you don't make much)," she said.
At one end of the pebble beach is a historical landmark, declared a aational treasure in 2014, called the Baluarte watchtower. It is a 400-year-old restored Spanish-era fortress used as a watch point for potential pirate attacks and other dangers from the sea.
Its restored look is a fusion of the old and the new, with half in its original form and the other made with fabricated adobe bricks.
Today it is Luna’s main tourist landmark which can be accessed via Valdez Street near St Catherine of Alexandria Parish.
The plan to build a bay walk and food hubs in the area that can help locals have a more sustainable livelihood.
Recently, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) banned pebble picking for several days due to bad weather and, whether we admit it or not, the continuous hoarding of these natural resources isn't sustainable.
If the waves at Victoria's pebble beach are too strong for recreational swimming, it is the opposite in Nalvo Sur, which has access to a pristine sea. Locals frequent it to swim in its clear, calm, and shallow waters. The pebbles are smaller, too.
Unfortunately, this is also where pollutants, including heavy metal-rich particulates like mercury, will be discharged because it is within the proposed coal-fired power plant (CFPP) site. Such process controls air pollution but it would pump out hot waste water into the sea, potentially harming marine life.
From afar, we saw a few locals enjoying the beach. A family also parked nearby and headed to the beach with picnic essentials.
For us, it was the lush trees along the road, which resemble the man-made forest of Bohol, that made us stay longer.
Its pebble beach, like that in Barangay Victoria, is not for swimming. Interestingly, it is host to an open stone art gallery and the beach front mansion Bahay na Bato.
There are a lot of things going on in and out there. Take your time to check out the artsy coral wall decorations, the wood sculptures, the photographs, the architecture itself and outside the must-not-miss life-size stone art installations to appreciate how exceptional the place truly is. The annex gallery houses framed mosaic art pieces – mostly marine organisms – using wood and pebbles.
Did you know that you can camp out there? The rooms available are reasonably priced too.
This white sand cove is where the resorts are. So expect some crowds, except early morning or late afternoon where you can have it all to your group. Watch the sun set, feel the fine sand with your feet and take in the serenity.
There's a snorkeling and diving site too in this area. However, you have to bring your own gears. Look for Rolando Dumaran, Navalta Beach Resort’s caretaker, because he knows where the coral reefs are. As former barangay tanod, he had trained for this supposed tourist attraction in Darigayos.
May we know that pebbles can make ripples too.
How to get there
Ride any of these Northbound trips: Vigan, Laoag and Abra. Alight in Balaoan town and ride a tricycle to Luna, or alight in Bacnotan town and ride a jeepney to Darigayos.
From San Juan, La Union, ride a tricycle to Luna town. Or look for Bacnotan-bound jeepney and ride a tricycle to Luna. It is about an hour away.
Visit also the scenic military shrine and park, the pilgrim site of The Our Lady of Namacpan Church, the ancestral house of Antonio and Juan Luna's mother Laureana Novicio Una, the Occalong Falls, and Kamay na Bato among others.
The town market is where you'll find local delicacies and fresh catch. For street food, go to Bacnotan or to San Juan for more options. – Rappler.com