L.U.K.E.: La Union Krazy Escapade

“The best vitamin for making friends: B1.”

Photo by: Eliel Sarmiento

The last two weekends of May have been make-new-friends weekends for us.
A couple of weeks ago, we volunteered with the K.I.D.S. Foundation for a trek/medical mission in Kalinga (view post here). A week after that, La Union happened with a group of 10 people, some just acquaintances while others just names. In a span of two weekends, we had an additional 40+ facebook friends. Make-new-friends weekends, indeed!

Before I go any further, let me introduce the La Union roster and their complex connections.

From left to right: E, Yza, Cess, Tin, Prince, Gella, Chico, Nikki, Miguel, Pau                                                                 Photo from: Tin Inocencio
La Union Connection 1

After weeks of planning (well, I wasn't part of the planning, they did a great job at it though!), the L.U. weekend finally came about. The plan was to meet up at Petron NLEX at 6AM (with 'plan' as the operative word).

We started the drive at around 8AM.

The rain was pouring when we left Manila, close to zero visibility. There was a storm approaching Manila that day. Good thing the rain just stayed in Manila, the sun was out when we reached the northern end of NLEX going to SCTEX.

Photo by: Yza Urgel
We traversed NLEX to SCTEX to Tarlac and met up with Gella and Chico at Robinsons Luisita. Bought some groceries, mostly drinks, and not wasting any time, we continued with our journey to La Union.

Before arriving at the resort, we stopped at Midway Grill in San Fernando to grab some lunch. Baby back ribs and liempo were the orders of the day.

Photo by: Prince Ang
After a 10- to 15-minute drive from Midway, we finally arrived at San Juan Surf Resort. It was around 2PM.

Photo by: Eliel Sarmiento
Photo by: Prince Ang
Secured the room. Unloaded the bags. Settled down.

Photo by: Prince Ang
Photo by: Tin Inocencio
Photo by: Prince Ang
Everyone agreed to reserve the surfing for the next day and just relax the rest of the afternoon.

Photo by: Eliel Sarmiento
We spent the remaining daylight hours walking the shores...

Photo by: Prince Ang
...burying half of Nikki and 'sand-drawing' the rest of her body...

Photo by: Eliel Sarmiento
...swimming and fighting the angry waves and just getting to know each other.

The sunset sky was lovely but we weren't able to take any pictures since we were still basking in the waves of doom. We took a mental picture though. *click*

As night fell, everyone took turns in the shower. All fresh and clean, we had our dinner at the San Juan Surf Resort Bar & Restaurant.

Photo by: Tin Inocencio
Ordered. Photo op. Talked. Played pool. More photo op.

Photos by: Tin Inocencio
Photo by: Tin Inocencio
When the food arrived (after 48 years!), everyone was just too hungry that the food disappeared in seconds (well, it was really a few minutes but you get my point).

By this time, half of the group were so tired already and decided to call it a day while the rest had one last drinking session under the moonlit sky.

Photo by: Eliel Sarmiento
A lot of things happened during this 1-hour drinking session. Sharing of life stories. Sharing of love stories. But the highlight of the session, someone's (CLUE: her name sounds like Vikki) obsession with Luke Landrigan.

Let's pause for a moment and look at someone's dream for a while...
Photo by: Yza Urgel
...okay, going back.

Thirty long minutes of forcing her to approach Luke with suggested pickup lines like, "It's my first time to surf. Can you teach me?" and "Hey, what's your name?".

After back-and-forth arguments, Chico decided to approach Luke himself and dragged him to where we were. Everyone contributed to the setup - casually talking and asking questions about surfing and how to prepare for it. Everyone, but one. She was speechless, until...

"So you own San Juan?"

...and the crowd went wild! :)

The rest of the night was history... zzZZzZz.

Good morning, La Union!

The next morning, Yza and I woke up at 5:30AM to catch the earliest mass in San Fernando. We were there by 6AM but the mass was in Ilocano (nosebleed!) so we had to wait for the English mass at 6:30AM.

Strolled around the park. Took pictures and videos of the plaza. Ate suman. Then heard mass.

Photos by: Eliel Sarmiento
When we got back to the resort, everyone was up and ready to surf. Waited a few minutes for the instructors (most of us were first timers) and then off we headed to the far end of the beach.

Mr. Landrigan breezed through the basics while everyone paid attention to every detail, some more than others (especially the girl whose name sounds like Vikki).

Photo by: Yza Urgel
Then off we went to our respective boards and instructors to practice the whole lie-on-your-chest-with-your-toes-in-line-with-the-tip-of-the-board--paddle-using-the-hands--boost-yourself-up-using-your-hands-and-balance-yourself-on-the-board-with-knees-slightly-bent-and-back-straight routine.

Photos by: Yza Urgel
Surfed for an hour. Battled the waves. Good thing Sir Joel was a very good and motivating instructor, I was able to stand and surf until the shore on my first attempt. I think I was above 50% in terms of success rate (or so I thought). Happy and satisfied, regardless. Will definitely try this again.

Photo by: Yza Urgel
Photo by: Yza Urgel
The rest of the morning was spent eating breakfast, talking, playing pool and, what else, photo op again while everyone took turns in the shower.

Photo by: Eliel Sarmiento
Photo by: Tin Inocencio
By 1PM, we checked out and started the journey back to Manila.

By 3:30PM, we stopped at Urdaneta to grab our late lunch at Huat Chan. They had unlimited buchi and free Halo-halo (as long as you have no leftovers). Chinese food is the ultimate comfort food to prepare for a long drive ahead.

After about an hour, we resumed the journey back to Manila but this time, heavy rain started to pour. It just felt like the sky was crying every time we left a place (first when we left Manila, then, this). The rain stopped when we reached NLEX though, about the same area the rain stopped on our way to La Union (coincidence?). Special thanks to Tin for driving during the rainy stretch. :)

One final stop at NLEX to fix the car assignments...

Photo by: Prince Ang
...and then we headed straight home, or so I thought. While I was so engrossed narrating to Yza and Tin what happened during the drinking session the night before, I missed the EDSA exit at NLEX! Good thing I got lost in this concrete jungle already in the past so we were technically not lost this time, just traversing the longer way via España/Nagtahan. :)

Got home around 9PM.

Oh, by the way, the complex diagram at the top transformed into a simple diagram below when the La Union Krazy Escapade (or LUKE for short) ended. The result: one big group of friends.

La Union Connection 2

The video below summarizes the whole LUKE experience.