Photo by Lance Cha
February 14 in Manila? With all its drama, traffic, and overall ostentanious spectacle of Valentines? No thanks! Take me to that little surf town up north instead! Known for its impeccable waves, laid-back lifestyle and warm people, San Juan in La Union is an infinitely better place to spend Valentines – single or taken.
Photo by Allen Aligam
Every year around Valentine’s, while the swell’s just right and the water’s still cool in the mornings, local surf and lifestyle brand Coast Thru Life hosts its annual “Single and Unattached” events. Despite its name, however, this weekend-long event isn’t only for bearers of said status. It is actually named after a classic style of longboard surfing, involving only a single fin, a 9″ board (or longer) and no leash. The Single and Unattached events include a longboard surf competition for male, female and younger-age surfers (also known as “groms”), the Beach Volleyball Republic Tour leg in La Union, a super fun beach party at night, and the first ever single-fin shortboard competition.
It may have been any other random day of they year, but because the “Single and Unattached” event happened to be smack in the middle of Valentines, this recent visit to our home break had me thinking of all the possibilities it holds for discovering love. Amidst the balmy West Philippine sea breeze, warm sand and the lively yet relaxed bustle, La Union stages the perfect setting to finding love, or something like it. Here are some of the many places to find love in our favorite little surf town:
Photos by Allen Aligam
At the Beach
Anyone who’s set foot on San Juan’s beach-break is no stranger to its charm. At the height of the noontime sun, up until its daily show-stopping sunsets, a walk down San Juan’s shores is bound to sweep anyone off their feet. Add to that hot ladies playing ball at Beach Volleyballs Republic’s La Union leg which also happened over the weekend, friendly local surf instructors with their iron abs on display, and tons of beach-goers dancing to at the Single and Unattached beach party the night after, and you’ve got yourself the perfect setting for something (or someone!) new to love!
Single and Unattached Men’s Division Finals
Women’s, Tiny Toes and Expression Session Highlights
At the Line Up
Of course, the highlight of the Single and Unattached event has got to be its single-fin longboard surf competition which brought together professional surfers from all over the world and some of the country’s best longboarders in one break. Locals and foreigners alike slid, glided, trimmed, cross-stepped and nose-rode their way to the championship as they showcased their grace and style while treading La Union’s famous overhead waves, and proved to be a most entertaining show for spectators and avid surfers. Now, if you accidentally fall for theses stylish lads and lasses while oggling them out in the line up, I wouldn’t blame you – I fell for one myself 😉 Anyhow! Here’s the final list of winners in the recently concluded Single and Unattached competition:
Photos from New Era Cap Philippines
1. Arip “Mencos” Nurhidayat (West Java, Indonesia)
2. JR Esquivel (La Union, Philippines)
3. Benito Nerida (La Union, Philippines)
4. Mark Aguila (Baler, Philippines)
1. Daisy Valdez (La Union, Philippines)
2. Zyra Carbonell (La Union, Philippines)
3. Seal Yates (Adelaide, Australia)
4. Jina Kim (South Korea)
Tiny Toes (Junior)
1. Jomari Ebueza (La Union, Philippines)
2. Perry Ventura (La Union, Philippines)
3. Jhenard Fernandez (La Union, Philippines)
4. Daryl Esquivel (La Union, Philippines)
Single Fin Shortboard Expression Session
1. Luke Landrigan (La Union, Philippines)
2. Roger Casugay (La Union, Philippines)
3. Marven Abad (La Union, Philippines)
Nixon’s Sickest Trick Award – Mark Aguila (Baler, Philippines)
El Union Coffee Shop
Photos by Lance Cha
In a Coffee Shop
In a small surf town littered with shops and tiny eateries crammed along the sides of the highways, it’s impossible not to bump into familiar faces while crossing the highway on the way to the beach, grabbing a quick bite at one of the area’s dozen-and-one carinderias, or especially – specifically – on your dawn patrol coffee run. Said location of coffee run is bound to be tourist and local landmark, El Union. The relaxed and warm island cafe vibes proves to be the perfect neutral ground to finally strike up a convo with that cutie you’ve been eyeing at the beach last night. Or why not let one of their charming, shirtless baristas whip you up a mean latte? Just get ready to get your heart racing. Blame it on the caffeine if you must, but we’d know otherwise.
A usual crowded night at Tagpuan, with some of the Single and Unattached competitors (photo by Allen Aligam)
A popular local hangout after hours (of drinking and partying at the beach) is the local Tagpuan, a sidewalk eatery that serves up local comfort food favorites for the drunk surf crew who are looking for something to sober them up, or a place to extend the party once the beach quiets down. Alongside after-party banter, drunken shenanigans, one-last-bottle(s)-of-beer and mouth-watering bowls of pares, you might just end up meeting someone to warm up your cold night at the beach.
So… Sun, surf and sea? Looks like being single and unattached in La Union, on Valentines, isn’t so bad after all!
Special thanks to the official sponsor of Single and Unattached: New Era Cap Philippines, for a super fun weekend!