I haven’t been in beaches lately. The Holy Week had finished and that was one of the busiest week for beach resort owners. Aside from, of course summer that ranges from the month of March to the late May, Holy Week has been established as a vacation week for Filipinos. It is the only week of the entire calendar year where one can book a flight or go to beaches and resorts, relax and meditate for all the good things that happened in your life.
The Philippines had been known to be one of the religious countries in the world. A country with a majority of Catholic faith devotees, with a percentage of non-denominational Christians and Muslims. Some provinces in the Philippines had been very serious in celebrating Holy Week. It is a sacrament that was done with repentance by the Catholic devotees. For them, it was their expression of their love and faith of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. To name a few, Pampanga had been known to adhere in a penitential discipline during that important week.
They imitate the important event in Jesus’ life from the day he was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, to the moment he was held captive by the Romans and handed him to Pilate. To flogging Jesus to death, struck him on the head with staff and spit on him, mocked him and took his clothes, let him wore a twisted crown of thorns. To forcing him of carrying the cross to Golgotha, crucifying him together with the two rebels. To his rising overcoming death in the third day taking up all the sin and shame to save the world from God’s wrath and then ascending into heaven. Manila is also keen on celebrating this religious week at Quiapo Church, not only during the feast of the Black Nazarene. And pilgrimages located in Pangasinan, Rizal and Cebu.
See also: The Beauty in the Far Provinces
Devotees had been practicing this life-changing event during the Holy Week. They would go to serene and secluded places to meditate and remember the death and victory of Jesus Christ on the cross. For some, Holy Week has been a short getaway amidst the busy schedules and the tiring work of the entire year. It is the only time they can relax, unwind and refresh their spirit. Beaches and resorts had been the get-go of some of the busy workaholics to relax, free from stress and toxic environment of the metro and I was given a chance to explore one of the great beaches in the North. It was a surfing destination for the surfing enthusiasts, Urbiztondo Beach located at San Juan, La Union hours drive to the famous Pagudpud.
First, let me clarify that this was all coincidental. I wasn’t actually planning of going to the Urbiztondo beach. I came to La Union for an important errand, but due to a circumstance, I need to wait for how many hours to fulfill that errand. Since I got the opportunity of going to La Union (my first time after decades) and I passed by the long beaches along my way, I decided to go to a nearby beach to consume that hell of waiting. There was only one shopping mall in San Fernando and there wasn’t any space available where I can sit and wait for the hours. So what I did was, I asked a local for a nearby beach. I was lucky enough that there was a nearby beach, and it only takes a 15-minute drive away from the shopping mall.
URBIZTONDO BEACH, SAN JUAN
From the CSI Shopping Mall, you can ask a local for a drive using a tricycle for a hefty P100 – P150 fare to the seaside. It was quite expensive for a local tourist like me. But do not worry, there is a jeepney ride to the beach, you only need to walk from the shopping mall to the intersection and wait for any jeepney that passes by. You will only have to pay P10 fare. The route was something like Diretso/Bacnotan/San Fernando, both to and fro I guess. It was kind of disappointment when I learned that it only takes P10 jeepney fare compared to the hundred pesos fare on tricycle. Take note though, I support the local tourism and the locals so just take my word lightly when I said disappointment, (hahaha). It was a long beach so you can stop anywhere from the entire stretch of the beach. The drivers are kind enough to inform you that.
Even before reaching the place, you could feel the cold breeze that was blown from the sea. There are many establishments and hotels along the long stretch of the beach. And there are other establishments that are currently under construction. You could feel the booming business district and the busyness of the area. One local told me that I was lucky that I went there post-Holy Week because the beach was crowded during that event. Along the beach, you could find casual dining restos everywhere you look, outdoor bars on the outskirts before stepping your feet on the greyish-like sands and surf board rentals. There were also booth of henna tattoo artist, and little souvenir shops. One thing that distracted me though was seeing the warning signages like beware of jellyfish stings and do not swim at a certain distance.
I came there wearing my topsider shoes and believe me, I could feel the intense heat entering inside the sole of my shoes unto my feet. As if I could almost feel I was walking barefoot. Guys, you need to always carry with you sunblocks especially it was dry and hotter these days. I could almost drink a gallon of water just by walking on the sand alone due to the intense heat of the summer. While walking along the shoreline, there were rocky old formations of corals formed near the sea, I went there with my shoes on. I had to, because I didn’t bring with me any slippers since going there wasn’t my initial intention. It wasn’t as soft as I am expecting, because I really thought that my feet might sink into the corally ground. It was tough, maybe because it was hardened overtime.
The sea looks color blue, the fine sands looks greyish-white compared to the other white sand beaches or the dark-greyish sands I am accustomed to. When I saw the surfing board rentals the moment I arrived, I was expecting a decent wave of waters and surfers riding on it. But what I saw was a calm sea with neither surfers nor any outdoor activities present. I couldn’t also see any cruise ships and tanker ships from afar. And I haven’t encountered any swimmers that was stung by the jellyfish. Anyway, that was just meh! I am not a surfing dude so it wasn’t a big deal for me. In addition, it wasn’t dubbed as The Surfing Capital of the North for nothing, right? Maybe my timing wasn’t perfect, (hahaha).
See also: When the Passion is Gone
That was the 2-hour escapade of my life that day. Surely, I would love to return there to really experience what the Urbiztondo Beach could offer, especially during the night. It was a short, quick tour but it was refreshing. It maybe wasn’t intentional and it wasn’t something like a meditative vacation, but I am glad that I went there. I just want to quote a famous saying that I often hear:
Unplanned vacations are better than the planned ones.
And yes, I experienced it that day.