It’s pretty chill in La Union

Last year, and all the times in the past, I’ve always been staying in the same areas: Manila, Iloilo, Subic… basically where I have family. I told my family this year that I want to see more of my country and so they decided to take me to places I haven’t been to. Somehow, my family had a feeling that I would be a surfing person, and luckily they were right.

Earlier in the week I visited one of the Philippine’s famous surfing spots, Baler. This weekend, my Titos and Tita decided to take me to another of the famous surfing spots in the Philippines – La Union.

We stayed at San Juan Surf Resort, a small hotel founded by, owned and run by a Filipino-Australian surfer, who now resides in the area. Already upon arrival, you could get the feeling of the sea, the sun and the warm summer breeze. I quickly changed to my surfing attire and went to the surfing school. I’m gonna work on what I learnt from Baler I thought, here we go!

I met my surfing instructor Ronnie from San Juan Surf School and hit the waves. Or well, what we could call waves at the time. Yup, as it turns out, there was no swell when we were there… Dang.

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Nevertheless, I found new surfing buddies. The next day, my Titos and Tita joined us surfing and Ronnie grabbed his surfing instructor friend Jeff. Again no waves, so I decided to just be a cheerleader for my Titos and Tita as they were learning. I made my surfing instructor buddies promise to teach me tomorrow morning instead when there are hopefully waves.

In the evening, we tried the hotel’s salo-salo, and we were hooked. A mix of four dishes good for four, with different combinations everyday. In the end it was so good, we ate all our meals there… yum. Trying different combination of traditional Filipino dishes everyday. Like what my mom says, soon she will be able to just push me down a hill and I’d roll. Unfortunately, she’s not very far from the truth…

After dinner, we’d have drinks by the beach at a local bar, with live music. Did my Titos make me sing? Why yes of course they did. Because that’s what family do, always find the chance to embarrass you.

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The next day, I woke up again early in the morning to meet my surfing instructors by the beach after breakfast. To my disappointment upon looking at the water… it was as calm as a cradled baby sleeping. Again dang. So instead, we chilled by the beach chatting, swam and Jeff even let me try his paddle board. Oh well, next time! 🙂

Owing to my constantly changing and fast-paced lifestyle, I’m starting to appreciate the peace of being out in the province. Especially by the sea. Meeting new people, and chilling with a drink at hand eating good food. Surfing or no surfing, I had an amazing time due to the people I was with.

Thank you Titos and Tita for bringing me to San Juan in La Union, and thank you to Ronnie and Jeff for being awesome! Until next time. Bawi sa waves. For now, let my adventures by the beautiful waters of the Philippines continue!

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I fell in love with Baler and surfing

As the Philippines is surrounded by water, surfing is a relatively common sport to pursue here. My dad, as it turns out, grew up an area with perfect waves for surfing. At the end of my stay with dad, they took me to Baler in Aurora where I discovered my new found love for surfing.

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Baler is a magical place. So magical I can even see myself staying here for a long period of time. Filled with relaxed, friendly, welcoming locals, who are really there to make sure you will have a good time. You’d see people of all ages on surfboards, from children doing crazy tricks on the waves (yeah, I felt super self-conscious with them around as a first-time surfer), to grandparents still rocking their surfboards in the water. If they’re not on their surfboards in the water, you’d see the locals on their bikes or longboards, cruising down the long boardwalk by the surfing beach. Their lifestyle really is sleep, eat, surf, party, repeat. Surfing 6am in the morning and again in the afternoon, eating and napping in between until you end your day with a beer. Surfers are my new favourite type of people. If medschool fails, I’ll retire to the beach with a surfboard and spread love to the world with my ukulele. Sounds like the dream to me.

It’s hard to describe the exhilarating feeling when you’re surfing a wave on a surfboard. The adrenaline kick of cruising on top of a wave, taking you to shore. Kuya Doods my surfing instructor from Baler Surf School was very patient but supportive. He was so good that he already managed to get me surfing on my third wave during my first lesson. By the end of my one hour session, I was already longing for my next lesson the next day. Really, I couldn’t sleep because of my excitement and even watched Lilo & Stitch in true surfing spirit. Nevertheless, I managed to sleep 4h and woke up at 7am again to go surfing. You can say I am now hooked.

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The next day came and after the end of my second one-hour session with Kuya Doods, I am now ready to take on waves by myself. Bring it on!

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Thank you Kuya Doods for introducing me to my new-found love for surfing, and my family for bringing me to Baler. I’ll definitely be back. Next time I’ll bring more people and definitely stay for longer than just overnight. Next time I’m back, you’ll see me cruising the big waves, I swear!

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Baguio for the weekend

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When I was baby, my family and I lived in the US for a while owing to my mom’s studies. As it is common in the West to have cut down pine trees as Christmas trees, we had that during our time there. We wanted the same when we moved back but as the Philippines is a tropical country, they’re not easy to come by. Except for in Baguio. Therefore during one Christmas, we decided to make the trip to Baguio to get a “real” Christmas tree. So ever since I was a child in the Philippines, I have known Baguio as the “cold” city where Christmas trees grow. Which is basically what it is.

Baguio City is a city created during the American occupation for Americans to stay in to escape the heat of the summer, as it is high up in the mountains and is cooler. You actually see people wear winter clothes there. I visited for the first time after perhaps 20 years last year, and again over the weekend. The “cold” reminded me of home!

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As Baguio is known for their cool climate, it has also become known as one of the few places in the Philippines where strawberries grow. Therefore, aside from their famous ube jam (ube is a Philippine purple sweet potato) from the Good Shepherd (a convent reknown for making and selling Filipino delicacies including this), strawberry flavoured everything is a delicacy here – I had to try their strawberry taho (a Philippine sweet street food composed of tofu and tapioca pearls in sweet sauce) of course! The streets were filled with small stores selling Baguio delicacies, and I came back with at least a whole bag full – we’ll see how many make it back to Sweden.

After dad’s Rotary Club induction for the club in Baguio (the reason why we went to Baguio in the first place), my little brother and I decided to visit the night market, where they sell secondhand clothes or more excitingly for us, street food. I finally got to taste my favourite kwek kwek (deep fried quail’s eggs in batter) and eat some sweet corn in margarine – yum!

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The beautiful garden at BenCab Museum

The next day, just before leaving to go back to Subic, my family took me to the BenCab museum, home of one of the Philippines’ national artists. I have been to several art museums in the past, but this one was different. Apart from the art exhibited by BenCab himself and other Filipino artists he promotes, there is an amazing garden in the back, which is a part of BenCab’s personal garden (he lives next door). With an amazing and serene location like that, with a view of the mountains of rainforest, it’s not surprising BenCab can be so inspired to create such beautiful art. ❤️

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