La Union

La Union (Tagalog pronunciation: [la ˈuɲon]), officially the Province of La Union (Ilocano: Probinsia ti La Union; Tagalog: Lalawigan ng La Union), is a province in the Philippines located in the Ilocos Region in the island of Luzon. Its capital is the city of San Fernando, which also serves as the regional center of the whole Ilocos Region.

La Union
Province of La Union
Welcome arch at the La Union-Ilocos Sur border
Welcome arch at the La Union-Ilocos Sur border
Flag of La Union
Official seal of La Union
"Love, Union, Concord"
Anthem: La Union Hymn
Location in the Philippines
Location in the Philippines
Coordinates: 16°30′N 120°25′E / 16.5°N 120.42°E / 16.5; 120.42Coordinates: 16°30′N 120°25′E / 16.5°N 120.42°E / 16.5; 120.42
RegionIlocos Region
FoundedMarch 2, 1850
CapitalSan Fernando
 • TypeSangguniang Panlalawigan
 • GovernorFrancisco Emmanuel R. Ortega, III (PDP–Laban)
 • Vice GovernorMario Eduardo C. Ortega (NUP)
 • Total1,497.70 km2 (578.27 sq mi)
Area rank69th out of 81
Highest elevation1,520 m (4,990 ft)
 (2015 census) [2]
 • Total786,653
 • Rank36th out of 81
 • Density530/km2 (1,400/sq mi)
 • Density rank9th out of 81
 • Independent cities0
 • Component cities
 • Municipalities
 • Barangays576
 • Districts1st and 2nd districts of La Union
Time zoneUTC+8 (PHT)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63 (0)72
ISO 3166 codePH-LUN
Languages Edit this at Wikidata

The province is bordered by Ilocos Sur to the north, Benguet to the east, Pangasinan to the south, and to the west by the shores of the South China Sea.



La Unión, "The Union" in English, was formed in 1850 when the Spanish colonial government of Governor-General Antonio Maria Blanco merged the three southern towns of Ilocos Sur province, the nine northern towns of Pangasinan, and the western towns of Benguet to the east (Eastern Pais del Igorotes in the Cordilleras). Pangasinans were the majority in the new province because most towns had been in the province of Pangasinan.

On October 29, 1849, Governor General Claveria issued a promovido to fuse the Pangasinan-Ilocos-Cordillera areas into La Union. On March 2, 1850, Governor General Antonio Maria Blanco signed the Superior Decreto of La Union (34th province from Cebu-1565), with Captain Toribio Ruiz de la Escalera as the first Gobernador Military y Politico. Isabella II of Spain decreed the province's creation on April 18, 1854.[3]

1896 Philippine revolutionEdit

In 1896, the people of La Union began a revolt against the Spaniards, who had called La Union "Una Provincia Modelo" ("A Model Province"), led by Manuel Tinio y Bondoc under Emilio Aguinaldo. The Americans collaborated with the Filipinos to end Spanish rule.

American colonial eraEdit

Dr. Lucino Almeida became the Presidente Provincial under the American regime, followed by the appointment of La Union's first civil governor in 1901, Don Joaquin Joaquino Ortega.[4]

World War IIEdit

La Union had great strategic significance both for allied and Japanese forces.

On December 22, 1941, the Japanese 4th Tank Regiment and the 47th Infantry Regiment under the command of Col Isamu Yanagi supported by a massive flotilla of navy ships tried to land in Agoo to make it one of three major beachheads for the Japanese Invasion of Lingayen Gulf, although weather dispersed their forces and made them deploy on a wide stretch of beach that ranged from Agoo to as far south as Damortis. These forces later met the commonwealth defence forces—consisting of the 26th Cavalry Regiment (Philippine Scouts), the Philippine 21st Division, the Philippine 11th Division, and the newly formed Philippine 71st Division—in what would later be called the Battle of Rosario.[5]

On January 4, 1945, La Union was liberated by the Battle of San Fernando and Bacsil Ridge.[3]

Martial LawEdit

Although economically affected by the rapid peso devaluation brought about by unbridled election spending heading into the 1969 presidential elections,[6][7] political life in La Union was not significantly impacted by Ferdinand Marcosdeclaration of Martial Law in 1972.[8]

The powerful family factions which had dominated La Union politics since before the American colonial era largely remained in place, although the family of Congressman Jose D. Aspiras became much more prominent after he became Marcos’ Tourism Minister. The main political change was the increased power of regional and provincial offices of national agencies, whose directors were answerable directly to Marcos.[8]

This technique used by Marcos to consolidate political power did not get much resistance in the Ilocos Region,[8] including La Union, which had strong ethnic associations with the Marcos family.[9] The Marcos administration's use of violent methods for stifling dissent thus mostly took place in other, non-Ilocano provinces, such as nearby Abra, Kalinga, and Mountain Province.[9]

But there were still La Union natives who were willing to object to the authoritarian practices and abuses of the Marcos administration, despite personal risk.[10][11] This included San-Fernando-raised student activists Romulo and Armando Palabay, UP Students and La Union National High School alumni who were imprisoned for their protest activities, tortured at Camp Olivas in Pampanga, and later separately killed before the end of Martial Law.[12] The martyrdom of Romulo (age 22) and Armando (age 21) was later honored when their names were etched on the Wall of Remembrance at the Philippines’ Bantayog ng mga Bayani, which honors the heroes and martyrs who fought the authoritarian regime.[13]

Agoo, La Union, native Antonio L. Mabutas had become Archbishop of Davao by the time of Martial Law, and spoke actively against the human rights abuses of that time,[14][15] particularly the torture and killings of church workers. The pastoral letter he wrote against Martial law, “Reign of Terror in the Countryside,” is notable for having been the first pastoral to be written against Marcos' martial law administration.[14]

2010s Tourism boomEdit

From the mid-2000s to the early 2010s, an influx of entrepreneurs began putting up establishments such as boho-chic-style art hostels and third-wave coffeeshops in San Juan and Agoo.[16] They were initially attracted to the already-established surfing scene of Barangay Urbiztondo in San Juan, but eventually envisioned business in the province as an alternative to the stresses of city-based employment.[17][18] This coincided with the phase-by-phase opening of the Tarlac–Pangasinan–La Union Expressway (TPLEX), which made La Union more accessible to tourists from Metro Manila.[19]

Alongside the rising influence of social media outlets Twitter and Instagram, these factors led to a drastic tourism boom that made San Juan—previously been seen as just one of the Philippines' many surfing venues—a major backpacker's destination whose attractions centered on surfing and art.[20][21]

San Juan began to be featured prominently in independent films such as Jay Abello's 2015 film Flotsam[22] and JP Habac's 2017 film I’m Drunk, I Love You,[21] and the province began to be referred to by the colloquial initialism “ElYu.”[23]


La Union covers a total area of 1,497.70 square kilometres (578.27 sq mi)[24] occupying the central‑southern section of the Ilocos Region in Luzon. The province is bordered by Ilocos Sur to the north, Benguet to the east, Pangasinan to the south, and to the west by the South China Sea.

La Union is 273 kilometres (170 mi) north of Metro Manila and 57 kilometres (35 mi) northwest of Baguio. The land area of the province is 149,770 hectares (370,100 acres).[1]

Like most of the Ilocos Region, the province is squeezed in by the Cordillera mountain range to the east and the South China Sea to the west. Yet, unlike other portions of Luzon and the Philippines' two other island groupings, the Visayas and Mindanao, La Union experiences a rather arid and prolonged dry season with little precipitation to be expected between the months of November and May.

Administrative divisionsEdit

La Union comprises 19 municipalities and 1 component city, [25] all of which are organized into two legislative districts.[24]

Political map of La Union
  •  †  Provincial capital and component city
  •   Municipality


La Union has a total of 576 barangays comprising its 19 municipalities and 1 city. [25]

The most populous barangay in the province is Sevilla in the City of San Fernando with a population of 10,612 in the 2010 census. If cities are excluded, Central East (Poblacion) in the municipality of Bauang has the highest number of inhabitants, at 4,249. Caggao in Bangar has the lowest with only 170. [25]


Population census of La Union
YearPop.±% p.a.
1903 137,847—    
1918 178,400+1.73%
1939 207,701+0.73%
1948 237,340+1.49%
1960 293,330+1.78%
1970 373,682+2.45%
1975 414,635+2.11%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1980 452,578+1.77%
1990 548,742+1.95%
1995 597,442+1.61%
2000 657,945+2.09%
2007 720,972+1.27%
2010 741,906+1.05%
2015 786,653+1.12%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority [2][25][26]

The population of La Union in the 2015 census was 786,653 people, [2] with a density of 530 inhabitants per square kilometre or 1,400 inhabitants per square mile.

The province is predominantly Ilocano (over 90% based on recent[when?] census data) and Roman Catholic.[citation needed] Communities of Pangasinans thrive mostly in the southwestern portion of the province while Cordillerans live in the Cordillera foothills. In September 2012, the province of La Union passed an ordinance recognizing Ilocano (Iloko) as an official provincial language alongside Filipino and English, as national and official languages of the Philippines, respectively.[27][28]

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority report in 2012, the province has the longest life expectancy in the country at 78.3 years.[29]


Paddy fields in Naguilian.
View of San Fernando City, the provincial capital

La Union is known for its soft broom and tourism industry.[37] The economy is diversified with service, manufacturing, and agricultural industries spread throughout the province. The Port of San Fernando operates as an increasingly active shipping point, and the former American airbase Wallace Air Station, having been converted into a business and industrial area, helps to facilitate such commercial activity.

The major products of the province include hand-woven blankets (Inabel), soft brooms, baskets, pottery, rice wine (tapuey), sugarcane wine (basi), sugarcane vinegar, wood craft, bamboo craft, native rice cakes, antique-finish furniture, dried fish, coconuts, sea urchins, malunggay and pebble stones.

Currently, 80% of the income of the province comes from San Juan.


La Union has 333 public elementary schools, 56 private elementary schools, 79 public high schools, 51 private secondary schools, 20 Colleges and 5 State Universities.[38]

Provincial government and politicsEdit

Just as the national government, La Union provincial government is divided into three branches: executive, legislative, and judiciary. The judicial branch is administered solely by the Supreme Court of the Philippines. The LGUs have control of the executive and legislative branches.

The executive branch is composed of the governor for the provinces, the mayor for the cities and municipalities, and the barangay captain for the barangays.[39]

The legislative branch is composed of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial assembly) for the provinces, Sangguniang Panlungsod (city assembly) for the cities, Sangguniang Bayan (town assembly) for the municipalities, Sangguniang Barangay (barangay council), and the Sangguniang Kabataan for the youth sector.

The seat of government is vested upon the mayor and other elected officers who hold office at the City Hall of San Fernando. The Sangguniang Bayan is the center of legislation, stationed in the Speaker Pro-Tempore Francisco I. Ortega Building, the Legislative Building at the back of the Capitol.

Provincial Capitol
Legislative Building
Bulwagan ng Katarungan (Regional Trial Courts, in San Fernando

Elected officialsEdit

La Union is governed by Francisco Emmanuel "Pacoy" R. Ortega III, the chief executive, his vice governor, Mario Ortega, and 13 board members.[40]


American colonizationEdit
  • Lucino Almeida (1901)
  • Don Joaquin Joaquino Ortega (1901–1904)
  • Joaquin Luna (1904–1907)
  • Sixto Zandueta (1907–1909)
  • Francisco Zandueta (1909–1912)
  • Mauro Ortiz (1912–1916)
  • Tomas de Guzman (1916)
  • Mauro Ortiz (1916–1918)
  • Pio Ancheta (1918–1921)
  • Thomas de Guzman (1922–1923)
  • Juan Lucero (1923–1928)
  • Thomas de Guzman (1928–1931)
  • Pio Ancheta (1931)
  • Mauro Ortiz (1931–1934)
  • Juan Rivera (1934–1937)
  • Francisco Nisce, (1937–1940)
  • Bernardo Gapuz (1940)
Japanese occupationEdit
  • Jorge Camacho (1941–1942)
  • Bonifacio Tadiar (1942–1944)
Postwar and present erasEdit
  • Agaton Yaranon (1946–1947)
  • Doroteo Aguila (1948–1951)
  • Juan Carbonell (1952–1955)
  • Bernardo Gapuz (1956–1959)
  • Eulogio de Guzman, (1960–1967)
  • Juvenal Guerrero (1968–1977)
  • Tomas Asprer, (1977–1986)
  • Robert V. Dulay (1986–1987)
  • Joaquin Ortega (1988–1992)
  • Justo O. Orros (1992–2001)
  • Victor F. Ortega, (2001–2007)
  • Manuel C. Ortega (2007–2016)
  • Francisco Emmanuel R. Ortega III, (2016–present)

Court systemEdit

The Supreme Court of the Philippines recognizes La Union (inter alia) regional trial courts and metropolitan or municipal trial courts within the province and towns, that have an overall jurisdiction in the populace of the province and towns, respectively.[41]

Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, "The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980", as amended, created Regional, Metropolitan, Municipal Trial and Circuit Courts. The Third Judicial Region includes RTCs in La Union xxx Sec. 14. Regional Trial Courts. (a) Fifty-seven Regional Trial Judges shall be commissioned for the First Judicial Region. Nine branches (Branches XXVI to XXXIV) for the province of La Union, Branches XXVI to XXX with seats at San Fernando, Branches XXXI and XXXII at Agoo, Branch XXXIII at Bauang, and Branch XXXIV at Balaoan;

The law also created Metropolitan Trial Courts in each metropolitan area established by law, a Municipal Trial Court in each of the other cities or municipalities, and a Municipal Circuit Trial Court in each circuit comprising such cities and/or municipalities as are grouped together pursuant to law: three branches for Cabanatuan City; in every city which does not form part of a metropolitan area, there is also a Municipal Trial Court with one branch, except as provided: Two branches for San Fernando, La Union;[42]

The courts of law are stationed in Halls of Justices of the Province and towns. In La Union, the Regional Trial Court is stationed at the Bulwagan ng Katarungan or Halls of Justice in San Fernando, La Union and other Regional Trial Courts in Bauang and Agoo, La Union.

Notable peopleEdit


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  2. ^ a b c d Census of Population (2015). "Region I (Ilocos Region)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b "La Union Profile: La Union History - Province of La Union :: Official Website". Archived from the original on 2015-09-27. Retrieved 2014-04-25.
  4. ^ La Union Profile: Gallery of Governors - Province of La Union :: Official Website
  5. ^ Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941- 1945. Naval Institute Press. pp. 29–31. ISBN 1299324614.
  6. ^ Balisacan, A. M.; Hill, Hal (2003). The Philippine Economy: Development, Policies, and Challenges. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195158984.
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  8. ^ a b c Turner, Mark M. (1989) Elites and Power in a Philippine Town. Under Martial Law, 1972-76. Philippine Studies 37: 283-300.
  9. ^ a b Cortes, Rosario Mendoza. (1990) Pangasinan, 1901-1986: A Political, Socioeconomic, and Cultural History. New Day Publishers.
  10. ^ "From 1987: 'A Damaged Culture' in the Philippines - The Atlantic". Archived from the original on 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  11. ^ Manila Today. Mula Sigwa hanggang Commune hanggang EDSA: mga kabataangmartir at bayani ng UP.2016-01-27
  12. ^ "PALABAY, Armando D. – Bantayog ng mga Bayani". Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  13. ^ Burgonio, TJ Museum puts a face on little-known martial law martyrs Philippine Daily Inquirer 2008-09-21
  14. ^ a b "Honoring Davao's Contributions to the Struggle for Rights, Freedom". Bantayog ng mga Bayani. Archived from the original on 2018-02-28. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  15. ^ Maglana, MAgz (2017-07-10). "VOICES FROM MINDANAO: Fear is not a good foundation for getting Mindanao out of the rut". MindaNews. Archived from the original on 2020-02-08. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  16. ^ "How entrepreneurs are reinventing the La Union lifestyle". F&B Report Magazine. 2017-06-01. Archived from the original on 2019-09-27. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  17. ^ "Hanging Out with Kiddo Cosio, the Man Behind La Union's Hipster Coffee Shop". Pepper.Ph. 2014-11-14. Archived from the original on 2014-11-14. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  18. ^ Ortiga, Kara; 2017 (2017-07-21). "This La Union Couple Is Raising Smarter Kids Through "Unschooling"". Archived from the original on 2020-10-10. Retrieved 2020-10-10.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ Cardiñoza, Gabriel (2018-03-17). "Beaches and gardens to beat summer heat". Archived from the original on 2018-03-17. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  20. ^ "Best Places in La Union If You're Feeling Artsy - La Union Tayo!". 2020-10-10. Archived from the original on 2020-10-10. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  21. ^ a b "REVIEW: Maja, Paulo at a crossroads in I'm Drunk I Love You". 2017-02-19. Archived from the original on 2017-02-19. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  22. ^ "10 Philippine Travel Destinations From Our Favorite Pinoy Films". When In Manila. 2016-05-05. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
  23. ^ "Stoked in ELYU : La Union, The Ultimate Beach Vibe". Escape Manila. 2018-03-22. Retrieved 2020-10-10.
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  25. ^ a b c d e Census of Population and Housing (2010). "Region I (Ilocos Region)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. NSO. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
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  32. ^; publication date: 8 February 2011; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  33. ^; publication date: 27 August 2016; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
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  35. ^; publication date: 27 August 2016; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  36. ^; publication date: 4 June 2020; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  37. ^ Rudio, Israel O. "La Union Soft Brooms: The First and the Original". Provincial Government of La Union (Official Website). Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  38. ^ "Education". Provincial Government of La Union. Archived from the original on 27 September 2010. Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  39. ^ Local Government Code of the Philippines, Book III Archived 2009-03-26 at the Wayback Machine, Department of the Interior and Local Government official website.
  40. ^ "Gobierno ti La Union". Provincial Government of La Union (Official Website). Retrieved 18 May 2016.
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  42. ^ "Batas Pambansa Bilang 129; An Act Reorganizing the Judiciary, Appropriating Funds Therefor, and for Other Purposes". Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. 14 August 1981. Retrieved 18 May 2016.

External linksEdit

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