June 20, 2012

The city of Ferdinand III

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.

stormy ocean view from Sunset Bay Beach Resort in San Fernando, La Union Home base for our tour of the coastal towns of the province of La Union (Agoo, San Juan and Bacnotan) was Sunset Bay Beach Resort in San Fernando City, the capital of the province. The resort is just outside the city center, with a great view of the little finger of land called Poro Point. If the monsoon rains hadn't decided to come a few weeks early, the view of the sunset would have been great too, since the resort is on the western coast of Luzon, facing the South China Sea (or the West Philippine Sea, if you ask our government and media).

facade of a room in Sunset Bay Beach Resort in San Fernando, La UnionSunset Bay has big rooms, free wifi, good food, friendly staff, and the casual atmosphere that we like in beach resorts. Our trip to La Union was not for its beaches, but we liked Sunset Bay so much we decided to stay there again on our way back home, still more than a week away.

facade of Saint William Cathedral in San Fernando, La Union San Fernando officially became a city only in 1998, but its history reaches back much farther—back to 1786 and the Spanish colonial times. The church of San Fernando, named after Saint William the Hermit, was first constructed then too, but, like many of the other churches in the region, the original structure was damaged during the 1892 earthquake and the 1898 Philippine Revolution, then destroyed in 1945 at the end of World War II. The current church was reconstructed in 1947–49, and St. William Parish Church became St. William Cathedral in 1970.

altar of Saint William Cathedral in San Fernando, La Union The facade of St. William Cathedral is almost nondescript, looking like any one of thousands of Catholic churches around the Philippines. The church is also difficult to visit, located as it is in the very busy and heavily-congested center of San Fernando City. I think the small but magnificent sanctuary is worth the bother though.

swimming pool of Thunderbird Resort Poro Point in San Fernando, La Union The resort that has placed San Fernando within the radar screen of Manila's weekend getaway-seeking crowd is the Mediterranean-themed Thunderbird Resort Poro Point. We just had to see it for ourselves, so we decided to have lunch at its restaurant, Olives, which has a wonderful view of the pool and the ocean. For those who are not fond of swimming and water sports, Thunderbird also has a golf course and a casino.

Poro Point lighthouse in San Fernando, La UnionThunderbird Resort is also the closest one can get to the Poro Point Lighthouse, at least until its rehabilitation is completed and the Poro Point Freeport Zone developed. In anticipation of this and to encourage tourism this early on, a festival centered around the lighthouse was created just this year. Called Sillag (Ilokano for "moonbeam"), the Poro Point Festival of Lights was launched on April 28. We missed it by two weeks!

swimming pool of Sunset Bay Beach Resort in San Fernando, La Union The weather on our return trip a week later was better, and we were able to put in a few hours of pool time at Sunset Bay Beach Resort. Yes, the ocean's just a few steps away, but even at its calmest, the waters of La Union have too strong an undercurrent for my peace of mind. My photo makes it look like just a wet wall, but the pool's waterfall is strong enough for a vigorous back massage.

bar and restaurant of Sunset Bay Beach Resort in San Fernando, La Union Then an early dinner at the resort's restaurant and bar… 

an overcast sunset at Sunset Bay Beach Resort in San Fernando, La Union where I discovered the yummy Tanduay Ice while we watched the sun set—behind yet another gathering thundercloud.  LUZON ROAD TRIP SERIES #5


Cezar and Léia said...

Impressive place with a truly beautiful nature and landscape!
God bless you!

Olivier said...

superbe reportage photographique , qui nous fait rever

Tamera said...

I have been to Sunset Beach. So beautiful. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

Nefertiti said...

magnifique !

Akiko Uryu said...

I enjoy your blog. It is fascinating to learn about the history in particular. Thank you for sharing!