Hometown blues

Posted on October 11, 2010

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My hometown – La Union – is perhaps one of the most boring places on earth. I am resigned to say nothing – literally – when asked what remarkable, life-changing thing there is in my hometown that’s worth a family weekend getaway.

But then again, that is not to say La Union does not have pretty decent stuff. There are, of course, the beaches – but these leave much to be desired especially if you’ve been to Boracay, Bohol, Pagudpud – you do get what I mean.

An honest-to-goodness answer is that La Union – or that part of it I had been to for the past 20 or so years – unfortunately does not have the vistas of Batanes, the beaches of Bohol, or the many nature wonders of Palawan.

La Union is sandwiched between big, wide Pangasinan to the south and the Ilocos Provinces – Sur and Norte – to the north. There’s Bolinao’s beaches, Hundred Islands, Vigan, Pagudpud, and many others in these nearby provinces to satisfy any backpacker. On the other hand, La Union, especially the capital San Fernando, is replete with roadside fast-food chains, gas stations literally on both sides of the main thoroughfare, and just about anything road travelers would need to replenish their supply – or themselves – throughout the long drive to and from Ilocos or Pangasinan.

But as a fitting gesture to my hometown, let me indulge you with some of the photos I have taken these past two years.

Shot at twilight from San Fernando’s plaza, just after arriving from Baguio.

This one was taken early morning, around 7 or 8 am, at the city center.

Somewhere along San Fernando’s coastline, 2008.

The Ma-Cho Temple at San Fernando, like the larger Buddhist-Christian temple in Cebu, is frequented by San Fernando’s Chinese-Filipino community and is the site of the locality’s Chinese New Year celebrations.

The other side of the temple, overlooking the sea.

A performance during the Chinese New Year.

One of the three large arches in the temple complex, which is sitting on top of a hill overlooking the city.

Taken in Poro, San Fernando’s port, using a DIY filter – my shades – to give the otherwise dull seascape a little color.

The little of rock formations found on this part of San Fernando, taken on the same day as the one above.

What appeared to be father and son going to sea, taken with a measly 18-55 mm kit lens, which explains the less-than-satisfactory perspective.

Taking a photo in black-and-white brings some little surprises – like this one of a very unlikely black-and-white subject of a family putting up a tent by the shore.

Of the five-or-so years I’ve been going to and from Baguio, I’ve been passing by this bridge in Naguilian town, but it was only sometime after I graduated had I been able to actually go down to it and take a photo. Good thing it was a beautiful, sunny summer morning then, the sky lending the perfect bluish reflection on the scant river water.

One of San Juan’s numerous rock formations on a sunset. San Juan, that small town in northern La Union that is being marketed nationally as a surfing town, is rather sleepy all-year-round, save for the semestral Surfbreaks that are, to my opinion, becoming more of a grand booze party than a surfing event.

This was one of the first photos I took with my then-brand new Nikon D90, with a reversed 50mm f/1.8 lens I didn’t own.

I didn’t want this for the finale, but neither do I want it in the opening salvo. This, of a policeman at the city plaza, was taken on the last day of 2009, when then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo bothered the whole of the city with a five-minute flag-raising ceremony and nothing more.