June 6, 2012

Brick beauty

From May 12 to 24, my husband and I went on a road trip through the Central Luzon and Ilocos Regions, stopping at cities and towns that we've never visited before. My Manila goes outside Metro Manila for the next few days. I hope you enjoy the trip.

town hall of San Juan, La Union My husband and I had no plans of stopping in the town of San Juan while we were in the province of La Union, but a small cluster of brick buildings along the highway caught my eye on our way to Bacnotan and I requested that we stop for a few minutes. The cluster turned out to be the town center of San Juan, which, like many Spanish-era towns in the Philippines, are laid out with the town hall and church around a central plaza and park. "Presidencia" seems to be used quite commonly to refer to the town hall, though I have to admit that this is the first time this city-bred girl learned that tidbit. I find San Juan's wood and brick presidencia lovely.

Saint John the Baptist Church in San Juan, La Union No one knows the exact date of the founding of San Juan; the only sure fact is that it was already a town when the province of La Union was created in 1850. History has not been gentle to San Juan, which was razed to the ground by a fire during the 1896 Philippine Revolution, and devastated during World War II. Again, I cannot find much information about the church. After the 1896 fire, the church was rebuilt in 1902, and my guess is that the current church still has parts from that 1902 structure.

painting of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus on the ceiling of the Saint John the Baptist Church in San Juan, La Union The church and the town are named after San Juan Bautista (Saint John the Baptist), and the scene of John baptizing Jesus in the Jordan River is painted on the church's ceiling.

memorial for Ilocano poet Mariano A. Gaerlan at the Saint John the Baptist Church in San Juan, La Union A small Marian grotto between the church and the rectory is also a memorial to a 19th century Ilokano poet named Mariano A. Gaerlan.

open-air stage at the plaza of San Juan, La Union The town of San Juan lies on the western coast of Luzon and is best known for its earthenware pottery and its waves—waves strong enough for surfing (though not big wave surfing) especially from July to March. So it is not surprising that the coastline is depicted on the mural of the open-air stage in the town plaza. Also in the mural is the ruins of the town's baluarte or watchtower, which can still be seen at the seaside though we weren't able to visit it. The park seems to double as pasture for goats too.  LUZON ROAD TRIP SERIES #4


Rob and Mandy said...

Lovely place. Looks so incredibly central Spanish! Half expecting to see Don Quixote coming around the corner.

George said...

This is a beautiful little town. The town hall is marvelous, as is that church.

brattcat said...

what a wonderful side-trip this turned out to be.

Photo Cache said...

really nice to see the snaps you took of that road trip. that's the road trip i like to take someday.

Cezar and Léia said...

It's a beautiful village and I'm enchanted by your pictures, the image of church of Saint John the Baptist is impressive!Thanks so much for sharing!

JM said...

Hi, Hilda! I love that second shot.