La Union Soul: Igniting an Advocacy Movement

Mornings at San Juan

What I love about La Union is how I’m so close with nature. I wake up every morning with the sound of birds and people sweeping leaves (a contrast from the sound of sirens, horns, and 12nn -11am karaoke waves in Metro Manila).

When the ocean is still (FLAT is surfers lingo), I grab my goggles and snorkel. There, I see a variety of colours – corals, shrimps, sea slugs, baby fishes. Scurrying across the sand dunes, are local soft shell crablets; And in the afternoon, just before the sun sets, you can see spear fishermen – getting their meals just before they do their night rounds.

AM Frisbee Routine

For more than 200 years, my family and relatives have acted as watchmen of the shores here, and while I’ve only been living in San Juan, La Union for almost a year, I know for a fact that I’ll be raising my own children here when the time comes.

Commercialism at the Horizon

The truth of the matter is – San Juan – is a tourist destination – a booming economy. Because of this, we have big investors such as Ayala Land, SM SuperMalls, and others who are trying to penetrate the local market, and local players taking advantage of the growing economy -
 each guided by their own tourist-related 
business development plans 
without any knowledge of San Juan’s natural ecosystem [both environmental and local business wise], which WILL BE affected once commercial development
 breaks land.

Summer Break 6 Event Crowd Shot on a Good Friday.
Summer Break 6 Event Crowd Shot on a Good Friday.

This is a fact that I’m worried about, but something that I [honestly] see as an opportunity for these big investors to build mindfully, and for companies with the heart for Corporate Social Responsibility to protect a shoreline that is still brimming with life. Besides, We don’t want to be the next Boracay, nor one of these international tourist hotspots.

March 8 Stash of Trash – Just got this stash in less than 30 mins!


A Movement Driven by a Driven Community

A community-driven ecotourism movement

Together with a group of advocates, we’re commencing – La Union Soul a movement that seeks  to keep our bread and butter, the ocean,  ALIVE. To do this, we’re partnering with a diverse group of —

Ridge to Reef and Cottage Industries: our La Union Organic Farmers Association (whom I met and have eaten meals with personally), Pottery Makers, and even La Union Weavers.

Seaside CommunitiesUrbiztondo Beach Library, Surf Clubs such as La Union Surf ClubSurfing San Juan and Soul Surf.

Artists like Nikki Ocean, June Pascal, Ben-Hur Villenueva, & AG Saño.

Social Entrepreneurs (who also happen to be Crafter-Makers) like Tali Ti Amianan, Nani Wahini, and Promdisea.

NGOs who continue to make a difference as SIFCare & CURMA Turtle Conservation.

Hip and Homegrown brands like Flotsam & Jetsam Artist Hostel, El Union Coffee, and Mad Monkeys.

The Government and San Juan Resort and Business Owners (SJRHASS) including Planet G, Kahuna, Urbiz Garden, Little Surf Maid and FatWave Surf Resort.

As well as a growing list of talented individuals like Mia, JoncyRaffy, Firth, ColleenTobee, Kiddo & Amy, Dave, Kevin, Rhiza,  Lala and Chen.

We’re calling for more guardians to rally behind our cause. After all, protecting a part of the the planet’s 4th longest shoreline – is impossible for a handful of martyrs. To keep our beach alive, we need the help of as many advocates as we can get.

Sentinels – Local Community members who are in La Union. Their role is to enforce & educate locals, tourists, and everyone about the wildlife.

Contributors – Anyone around the world who can support and provide funding (in cash or in kind) on the equipment, tools, and wages that we’d need to make sure our sentinels can do their role properly.

Messengers –  Anyone who can spread our advocacy to their own community.  It doesn’t have to be formal, it just has to have that heart and purpose to keep the message alive.

We have already started some of our efforts including Ridge to Reef Community Market,  Ocean Rescue (Capable and Professionally Trained Lifeguards), and Turtle and Wildlife Conservation. However, there is much to do: San Juan Reforestation, Reef Rehabilitation & Ocean Cleanup, Eco-Building Consultation & Development, and Ocean Wildlfe Re-Education among Locals.

Ridge to Reef Community Market
San Juan Ocean Rescue Bootcamp Mar 31-April 1 2016

It’s a long road ahead of us, and with everyone’s commitment we can slowly but surely do things right, without cutting corners.

“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.”
Mahatma Gandhi