Sunday, March 9, 2014

SAN FERNANDO OF ILOCOS REGION

Fernando is such a common household name and so is San Fernando, a usual namesake of a city and even streets in the Philippines.

But Ilocos Region's center of commerce and trade only knows of one named San Fernando.  And this is the capital city of the province of La Union.

With a number of points of interest, landmarks and attractions, truly San Fernando of La Union will not be mistaken from its namesakes.

The town plaza is the kilometer zero for this city tour with the waiting shed serving as landmark.  As we alight from the bus on one dizzy and sleepy morning, the laid back atmosphere of the city soothed my senses.  It was another rural landscape and simple living waiting to be discovered.



Beside the waiting shed is a playground of distinct art installations with a few locals spending the first order of business for the day - chatting and people watching.








Like any other rural cities and municipalities in the country, a town plaza would always be adjacent to a church.

The church of San Fernando, La Union sits at the center of the town frequented by tourists and travelers aside from being the venue for locals' confession of faith.








A few blocks from the town plaza, the 25-foot statue of Christ the Redeemer is nestled at the Reservoir Hill.

It was an unexpected trek and a physically challenging ascend.  At least for me who abhors a long walk on a steep concrete pavement.

The site of the Christ the Redeemer overlooks the city proper and the San Fernando bay.




Not far from the Christ the Redeemer statue and the reservoir hill, a peek of a taoist temple can be made, an imposing structure with interesting chinese ornaments and architectural design.  We were greeted by one of the caretakers of the statue and a resident of the nearby village who directed us to a shortcut leading to the temple.  We have to pass by a mini-forest and a small village before we arrived at the Ma-Cho Temple.



At an elevation of 70 above sea level, the temple is said to be towering at almost 7 stories with a facade wanting to be discovered in any research material relative to its culture and historical significance.

The temple is open to all with no entrance fees and is likewise accessible from various points of the city.




The temple is adorned by Chinese motif of Taipei lions and dragons.  It is surrounded by a well-landscaped garden as well making the visit refreshing and truly relaxing.  It was the day of chinese new year when we visited the temple and there were families making some offertories at the main altar.  And while observing how they do the worship, I can't help but be awed at the intricate carvings and installations that make up the unique architecture of the temple.



The small icon in the altar is known as Mazu.  The latter is the indigenous goddess of the sea who is said to protect fishermen and sailors, invoked as the patron deity of all Southern Chinese and East Asians.  Mazu's 8-inch icon is at the center of temple's altar.

The temple's attraction likewise includes the Bamboo Garden, Majestic Five Door Gate and the Bell and Drum Tower.




At the exterior of the temple are the chinese 18 saints, carved in stone statues.


La Union is slowly becoming one of the countries favorite tourist destination owing to the Santorini-inspired architecture of Thunderbird Poro Point.  The resort has become a local television and movie producer's favorite as well, being the location of quite a number of top-grossing films in the country.  But who would have questioned their decision as the panoramic landscape and ambiance of the resort is worthy of cinematographic investment.

  


Our day started with a refreshment drinks and an omelette for breakfast as we dine on their restaurant, the Olives Restaurant, facing the ocean sans the cool breeze of the wind making its presence known.  It was truly a delightful experience.




Being the only five-star hotel in Northern Luzon, The Thunderbird Resort has complete amenities and facilities to provide to a luxurious staycation for varied visitors.




a view of the Poro Point lighthouse


In complete contrast to the grandeur and world-class facade of Thunderbird Resort, in a not so touristy place, the city also boasts of another tourist attraction with a far from commercialized ambiance.  This is the Pindangan Ruins of Barangay Parian.




2 comments :

  1. Wow,,, that Santorini inspired resort :)

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  2. I must admit, I never look at La Union beyond surfing, but this post showed that there are more to La Union than surfing.

    By the way, when I passed the bar last 2007, I applied at Thunderbird. But I know I failed the interview because of one particular question which I answered in all honesty haha. Kwento ko na lang one time when we meet :)

    ReplyDelete

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