By Abigail Javellana
Music, art, and surfing collide in LAbor UNION Festival 2017!
Inspired by Aklan’s LaBoracay, the festival brought three days of non-stop partying over the recent Labor Day weekend in the Philippines’ surfing capital of the north, La Union.
The revival of the 2015 festival ushered in live music from iconic Filipino talents such as Barbie Almalbis, Kevin Toy’s, and Hilera, which had the beaches of San Juan flowing with good vibes.
Proceeds from the non-profit event went to the conservation of the Pawikan and to helping the indigenous groups of Northern and Southern Cordillera known as the Kankanaeys.
Check out all the things that make surf culture awesome with our guide to the LAbor UNION weekend (April 28-30, 2017)...
LAbor UNION Festival 2017
San Juan La Union
April 28-30, 2017
How to Get There
By Car: Take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) then connect through the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and then connect to the new Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEX). Exit at Binalonan, and follow the National Highway (MacArthur Highway) through Pangasinan and then La Union.
By Bus: We took the Partas Bus (via pre-online booking with Biyaheroes.com) at the Cubao Terminal. Ride the bus going to Laoag, Vigan, Abra, Ilocos Sur & San Fernando, La Union and set your drop-off point to San Juan, La Union. You can conveniently get off the bus in front of your resort.
*If your bus destination is San Fernando, La Union, you will need to take a 15-minute tricycle ride from San Fernando town to SAN JUAN SURF RESORT for P50-100.
Also, make sure to check if the bus route is driving through the Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway (TPLEx). This route should only take you about 5-6 hours of travel with one stop-over.
Partas Cubao Terminal -> Laoag (San, Juan La Union Drop-off) - P524
San Fernando Terminal -> Partas Cubao Terminal - P436
Tip: For a hassle-free experience, make sure to pre-book online with Biyaheroes.com, which makes public transport so much easier, even for first-time commuters. With their real-time seat and schedule selectors, commuters get a very useful overview of their trip schedules so they can plan ahead.
You'll just need to arrive with your booking arrangement at the counter an hour before departure. We heard that some who would catch the bus on the same day could wait as long as 12-hours just to get a ride, especially on a long weekend such as this!
STARTING AUGUST 8, Partas will start offering EXPRESS DAILY DIRECT trips from MANILA (Cubao/Pasay) to AND from SEBAY, San Juan, La Union!
The Labor Union Festival was held at the beach front of San Juan Surf Resort, where we checked-in.
The resort is owned by Australian surfer Brian Landrigan. It has 35 rooms complete with amenities, including a restaurant, bar, spa, surf school, and surf shop.
The rooms are simple but complete with queen size beds, toiletries, hot shower, cable television, and air-conditioner. Deluxe Room for two persons is P2,850.
To start the festival off, adrenaline junkies can catch AXN's daring Big Thrill obstacle courses that will put their stamina to the test.
They could also catch some waves of their own and continue partying on the beach. The best time to surf is in the afternoon (3-5 pm) during low tide.
If you're a beginner, an instructor is strongly advised. They can help you with the proper stance, balancing, paddling, and catching your first wave! (P400/Hour - board + instructor).
For pros, you can rent a board for P200/hour.
Hungry surfers and sun worshipers can easily walk along the beach and on the parallel road, where lanes of restaurants offer a wide array of cuisines. There are also a number of cafés and food stalls to choose from.
For something healthy, I recommend the Makai bowls of Flotsam and Jetsam. The place also offers a relaxing and hipster vibe.
The smoothies were perfect as a post-surf snack. I got their bestselling Beach Break (P200), which is made up of spinach, pineapple, banana, mango, spirulina, and coconut juice, then topped with homemade granola and fresh fruits.
Surf Shack is a go-to place for surfers and foodies who want to spend a laid-back evening while listening to awesome local tunes.
We tried their Bacnotan Pizza (P278). The pizza is topped with fresh tomato concasse, mozzarella cheese, Bacnotan longganisa, siling haba, and finished off with a sunny side egg in the middle.
Satisfy your Mexican craving with the Olas Bandidos (P75). The crunchy Fish Taco is just perfect for the beach. The serving is good for one and best eaten while hot.
You can also order the Carne Asada Burrito (P275) and the Quesadilla.
For those who love lounging on the beach while waiting for the music to drop, you can enjoy the house music from local DJs brought in by SONY's Silent Disco.
This was a unique experience. People trying it out for the first time may feel a bit awkward--but the trick is to let yourself go, feel the music, and dance your socks off, no matter how silly you may look.
The LAbor UNION Festival would not be complete without an awesome line-up of performers.
I love how we could just sit on the sand with the moon and the stars above us. There are no VIP sections and guests can freely roam the grounds.
Tip: Bring a beach mat.
Vocalist/guitarist Barbie Almalbis rocked the stage with her guitar work and endearing vocal style.
Hilera undoubtedly got the crowd going with their style of modern punk rock music!
The crowd also enjoyed Indio-i's unique fusion of rock and reggae.
(Photo by Jemima Mission)
Mixing art and music, the Department of Tourism played a significant role in bringing the sounds of the Cordilleran region with performances from the Kankanaeys.
Festival-goers got a chance to learn more about what our country has to offer, connect with our fellow brothers and sisters from the Cordilleras, and be educated on how else we can reach out and help.
After the live performances, the beach became lively as the non-stop happiness crusade continued with the DJs (DJ Callum, DJ Abdel, and DJ Cam) smashing EDM hits on stage.
This three-day event will give you lots of opportunities to meet and mingle and even jive with some strangers.
Let loose and let the happy vibes flow!
There's definitely more to love about La Union than just the beaches and waves. Here's to more positive vibes and good music on the next LAbor UNION Festival!
What I really liked about this event was that the crowd was respectful and kept the beaches that we love clean. More importantly, it was a venue for spreading awareness of the Kankanaey culture and promoting the preservation of the Pawikan.
LAbor UNION Festival 2017
San Juan La Union
April 28-30, 2017
Live an Awesome Life,
ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: We were media guests of the LAbor UNION Festival. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.