San Fernando, La Union

San Fernando, officially the City of San Fernando (Ilocano: Siudad ti San Fernando, Pangasinan: Siyudad na San Fernando, Tagalog: Lungsod ng San Fernando), is “second class” component city in the province of La Union, Philippines. According to the 2020 census, it has a population of 125,640 people. [3]

San Fernando
City of San Fernando
Skyline of San Fernando, La Union
San Fernando Skyline
Flag of San Fernando
Official seal of San Fernando
Prime Capital of Ilocandia
Botanical Garden City
Map of La Union with San Fernando highlighted
Map of La Union with San Fernando highlighted
San Fernando is located in Philippines
San Fernando
San Fernando
Location within the Philippines
Coordinates: 16°37′N 120°19′E / 16.62°N 120.32°E / 16.62; 120.32Coordinates: 16°37′N 120°19′E / 16.62°N 120.32°E / 16.62; 120.32
RegionIlocos Region
ProvinceLa Union
District 1st district
CityhoodMarch 20, 1998
Barangays59 (see Barangays)
 • TypeSangguniang Panlungsod
 • MayorHermenegildo A. Gualberto
 • Vice MayorAlfredo Pablo R. Ortega
 • RepresentativePablo C. Ortega
 • City Council
 • Electorate72,655 voters (2019)
 • Total102.72 km2 (39.66 sq mi)
101 m (331 ft)
Highest elevation
1,124 m (3,688 ft)
Lowest elevation
0 m (0 ft)
 (2020 census) [3]
 • Total125,640
 • Density1,200/km2 (3,200/sq mi)
 • Households
 • Income class3rd city income class
 • Poverty incidence3.82% (2015)[4]
 • RevenueIncrease PHP 808,972,356.84 million (11.4%) (2018)
 • AssetsIncrease PHP 1,629,324,939.20 billion (19.8%) (2018)
 • ExpenditureIncrease PHP 558,905,857.83 million (6.3%) (2018)
 • Liabilities₱280,635,987.49 (2020)
Service provider
 • ElectricityLa Union Electric Company (LUECO)
Time zoneUTC+8 (PST)
ZIP code
IDD:area code+63 (0)72
Native languagesIlocano

San Fernando is the financial, industrial, and political center of the province, as well as the regional center of the Ilocos Region (Region I) in the Philippines.


The city is bounded by San Juan to the north, Bauang to the south, Bagulin and Naguilian to the east, and the South China Sea to the west. It has a land area of 10,272 hectares (25,380 acres).[5]

San Fernando is 269 kilometres (167 mi) from Metro Manila.


San Fernando is divided into 59 barangays.[5]

  • Abut
  • Apaleng
  • Bacsil
  • Bangbangolan
  • Bangcusay
  • Barangay I (Poblacion)
  • Barangay II (Poblacion)
  • Barangay III (Poblacion)
  • Barangay IV (Poblacion)
  • Baraoas
  • Bato
  • Biday
  • Birunget
  • Bungro
  • Cabaroan (Negro)
  • Cabarsican
  • Cadaclan
  • Calabugao
  • Camansi
  • Canaoay
  • Carlatan
  • Catbangen
  • Dallangayan Este
  • Dallangayan Oeste
  • Dalumpinas Este
  • Dalumpinas Oeste
  • Ilocanos Norte
  • Ilocanos Sur
  • Langcuas
  • Lingsat
  • Madayegdeg
  • Mameltac
  • Masicong
  • Nagyubuyuban
  • Namtutan
  • Narra Este
  • Narra Oeste
  • Pacpaco
  • Pagdalagan
  • Pagdaraoan
  • Pagudpud
  • Pao Norte
  • Pao Sur
  • Parian
  • Pias
  • Poro
  • Puspus
  • Sacyud
  • Sagayad
  • San Agustin
  • San Francisco
  • San Vicente
  • Santiago Norte
  • Santiago Sur
  • Saoay
  • Sevilla
  • Siboan-Otong
  • Tanqui
  • Tanquigan


Climate data for San Fernando City, La Union
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 31
Average low °C (°F) 21
Average precipitation mm (inches) 42
Average rainy days 11.2 12.0 17.1 21.2 27.1 26.8 28.1 27.0 26.0 24.5 17.7 12.4 251.1
Source: Meteoblue (modeled/calculated data, not measured locally)[6]


Colonial historyEdit

San Fernando, along with all the southern coastal towns of La Union were once called Agoo in pre-colonial times. Agoo was the northern part of Caboloan (Pangasinan), covering a large area that encompassed the towns of “Atuley” (San Juan), San Fernando, Bauang, Caba, “Alingay or Alinguey” (Aringay), Santo Tomas and Rosario.

When Juan de Salcedo explored the area in June 1572, he and his men were involved in a skirmish with 3 Japanese ships. He discovered that there was a settlement in the area, occupied by Japanese and Chinese merchants. The incident earned Agoo the name “El Puerto de Japon,” the Japanese Port. Agoo was heavily involved in trade with other neighboring Southeast Asian countries. Agoo’s role as an ancient port eventually deteriorated when the Spanish closed the Philippines to foreign trade.

There were two smaller settlements in the immediate area of San Fernando: San Vicente de Balanac and San Guillermo de Dalangdang. Due to their proximity to the coast, they were constantly attacked by pirates. In 1759, the Agustinian friar Jose Torres fused these two settlements to form the town of Pindangan (local word for a place to dry fish). He also had the Pindangan church built but a massive earthquake in the 1760s left the church in total ruin - except for the massive buttresses that still stand today, known as the Pindangan Ruins.

Named after Saint Ferdinand III of Castile, San Fernando was founded in 1786. That same year, instead of rebuilding the Pindangan church, the Franciscans decided to build a new one in honor of San Guillermo. This is now the Cathedral of St. William the Hermit situated at the center of San Fernando City.

On October 29, 1849, Governor General Narciso Zaldua Claveria issued a “promovido” combining the eight northern towns of Pangasinan, three southern towns of Ilocos Sur due south of the Amburayan River, and 8 western settlements of Benguet or Eastern Pais del Igorotes in the Cordilleras into the province La Union. On March 2, 1850, Governor General Antonio Maria Blanco signed the “Superior Decreto” of La Union, with San Fernando as the “cabecera,” the capital, and with Captain Toribio Ruiz de la Escalera as the first Gobernador Militar y Politico. Its creation as a province was formally approved by a Royal Decree issued by Queen Isabela II of Spain on April 18, 1854. 

From 1896 until 1898, during the Philippine Revolution, the Spanish garrison of San Fernando was attacked by Filipino revolutionaries under Manuel Tinio y Bundoc and Mauro Ortiz. Spanish administration ceased; a short while later, the United States acquired control over the country by the Treaty of Paris following the events of the Spanish–American War.

From its inception as the capital of La Union up to the Second World War, San Fernando experienced monumental transformations in the socio-cultural and politico-economic aspects. After World War II, rehabilitation and reconstruction were done, eventually propelling the city as the center of commerce and trade and the administrative center of Region I.

World War IIEdit

In the Second World War, the last battle of San Fernando was fought during the Japanese occupation at Barangay Bacsil. The Bacsil Ridge Monument was built on the site in the city, the north-eastern portion of the town plaza. The victory enabled the establishment of the United States Army Base, Base M at Poro Point (a buildup area for the Japan invasion).[7] The town was liberated in 1945.[8]

The Battle of Bacsil Ridge

The Battle of Bacsil Ridge was fought on March 1945 was one of the continued main battles of the Philippines Campaign of the Second World War are between the Filipino soldiers under the 121st Infantry Regiment, Philippine Commonwealth Army, USAFIP-NL, under the command of Russell W. Volckmann, and the Japanese Imperial forces under by General Tomoyuki Yamashita.[9]

The Battle of Bacsil Ridge ended the month-long battle for control of San Fernando. The Japanese defenders called the Hayashi Detachment, composed of 3,000 armed troops and 2,000 unarmed support forces, took hold of San Fernando and its surrounding areas which denied entry to the port of the city and a road leading to Baguio City. As part of the San Fernando-Bacsil Operations, the 1st Battalion of 121st Infantry were sent to loosen the enemy positions starting late February with the assistance of the Allied Air Force.

The 1st Battalion made a general attack to the ridge on 16 March 1945 and fought the Japanese defenders until the capture of Bacsil on 19 March. On the same day, the 3rd battalion captured the Reservoir Hill. The Battle of Bacsil Ridge between the Filipino guerrillas and the Japanese Forces resulted in the recapture of the city of San Fernando, La Union. which resulted in the capture of San Fernando, La Union on 23 March 1945, and Bacnotan, La Union and the military offensive throughout the province ended on 24 March after two months of fighting.[10]

Martial law eraEdit

Although Ilocanos are perceived to have been largely silent about the authoritarian practices,[11][12] there were still San Fernando residents willing to express their objections to the Marcos administration.[13] 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 in San Fernando, tortured at Camp Olivas in Pampanga, and later separately killed before the end of Martial Law.[14][15] The respective martyrdoms of Romulo (age 22) and Armando (age 21) were 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]


San Fernando became a city by virtue of Republic Act No. 8509 signed into law on February 13, 1998, and ratified on March 20, 1998, by a plebiscite.[16]


Population census of San Fernando
YearPop.±% p.a.
1903 16,095—    
1918 19,881+1.42%
1939 23,366+0.77%
1948 28,742+2.33%
1960 37,836+2.32%
1970 52,597+3.34%
1975 61,166+3.07%
1980 68,410+2.26%
1990 84,949+2.19%
1995 91,943+1.49%
2000 102,082+2.27%
2007 114,813+1.63%
2010 114,963+0.05%
2015 121,812+1.11%
2020 125,640+0.61%
Source: Philippine Statistics Authority[17][18][19][20]

In the 2020 census, the population of San Fernando, La Union, was 125,640 people, [3] with a density of 1,200 inhabitants per square kilometre or 3,100 inhabitants per square mile.


San Fernando is mainly agricultural (rice, legumes, leafy vegetables, root crops, fruit trees, corn, and tobacco). But residents treat fishing in coastline and seashore areas as secondary means of livelihood. The natives also have inabel hand-woven cloth, baskets, shell crafts, including foods, such as kilawen and papaitan, basi, sukang Iloko and paslubong such as guapples, longganiza, honey and native rice cakes, puto, suman, and bibingka.

Patupat is an Ilocano San Fernando's native delicacy, made from "agdapil" (sugarcane, a tall tropical Southeast Asian Grass (Saccharum officinarum).[27]

San Fernando has many class A hotels and resorts and night clubs such as Aureo La Union Thunderbird Resorts and Casinos Poro Point

Local governmentEdit

The mayor and other elected officers hold office at the city hall of San Fernando. The city council, the Sangguniang Panlungsod, is housed in the Don Mariano Marcos Building beside the city hall.

Elected officialsEdit

City hall

Elected officials (June 30, 2019 – 2022):[28]

  • Mayor: Hermenegildo A. Gualberto
  • Vice Mayor: Alfred Pablo R. Ortega
  • Councilors:
    • Maria Rosario Eufrosina P. Nisce
    • Ernesto V. Rafon
    • Jessie R. Miranda
    • Lucia Esperanza O. Valero
    • John H. Orros
    • Ramon C. Ortega
    • Arnel A. Almazan
    • Antonio G. Jucar
    • Rizalde F. Laudencia
    • Janwell E. Pacio
    • Rodolfo M. Abat
    • Quintin L. Balcita Jr.

List of chief executivesEdit

  • 1895–1898 — Paulino Alviar
  • 1899–1901 — Blas Tadiar
  • 1901–1903 — Urbano Martínez
  • 1904–1905 — Edilberto Aquino
  • 1906–1907 — Francisco Z. Flores
  • 1908–1909 — Angel Salanga
  • 1910–1911 — José Hidalgo
  • 1912–1914 — Anastacio Casuga
  • 1915–1918 — Juan Salanga
  • 1919–1921 — Ulpiano Flores
  • 1922–1928 — Pedro R. Flores
  • 1928 — Francisco Galvez
  • 1928–1930 — Evaristo Galvez
  • 1931–1933 — Gaspar Flores
  • 1934–1936 — Lauro Casuga
  • 1936–1939 — Paulino Flores
  • 1942–1944 — Juan Salanga
  • 1945–1946 — Modesto Aquino
  • 1946–1955 — Lorenzo L. Dacanay
  • 1956–1959 — Godofredo G. Rilloraza
  • 1960–1971 — Lorenzo L. Dacanay
  • 1972–1980 — Antonio Feraren
  • 1980 — Joaquin T. Ortega
  • 1980–1987 — Justo O. Orros Jr.
  • 1987 — Rufo T. Colisao
  • 1987–1988 — Angel Salanga
  • 1988–1998 — Manuel C. Ortega
  • 1998–2007 — Mary Jane C. Ortega
  • 2007–2016 — Pablo C. Ortega
  • 2016–Present — Hermenegildo A. Gualberto

Annual community eventsEdit

The city has a yearly fiesta, celebrated from January 28 to February 15, where a trade fair is opened near the city hall.

Celebrations are also done around March, in celebration of Cityhood.

The following events happen annually: Annual City Fiesta, February 10; Bacsil Ridge Celebration, March 19; Pindangan Festival, March 20; Ma-tzu Festival, September 16.[29][30]


  • Poro Point
  • The La Union Botanical Garden (8 kilometers from the city) – is a 10 hectare garden (Barangay Cadaclan), the home of various species of rare plants and a sanctuary of wild animals.
  • Battle of Bacsil Ridge Marker
  • Pindangan Ruins (Barangay Parian)
  • Hobbitat Forest Park
  • Poro Point Baywalk (Barangay Poro)
  • Seven Hills
    • Capitol Hill (Barangay II) home of the Provincial Capitol
    • Pagoda Hill also known as Filipino-Chinese Friendship Park or Chinese Pagoda (Barangay II)
    • Heroes’ Hill & Freedom Park Stairway (153 steps) located at the eastern portion of Capitol Hill
    • Bethany Hill (Barangay II)
    • Mirador Hill (Barangay II)
    • Mariner's Hill (Barangay Catbangen)
    • Miracle Hill (Barangay Pagdaraoan)
  • Christ the Redeemer (25-foot statue, Reservoir Hill, Barangay I)
  • Poro Point Lighthouse
  • Moro Watch Tower (Barangay Carlatan)
  • La Union Science Centrum & Museum (LUSCM has 5 Galleries: Kadaklan Burial Site and Environmental Gallery, Museum, Dark Room, Main Science Gallery and Portable Planetarium (Barangay Cadaclan)
  • Ma-Cho Temple
  • Tomb of Unknown Soldier (Barangay Madayegdeg)
  • Cathedral of St. William the Hermit (Barangay II, Poblacion)[2]
  • Kasay Marine Sanctuary: 30 hectares MPA, featuring the 50 years old Giant clam or Tridacna gigas (Barangay Canaoay)
  • Children's Park (Barangay II, City Plaza)
  • 10.6 hectares Engineered Sanitary Landfill (Barangay Mameltac)[31]
  • La Union Trade Center (beside the City Hall)

Notable peopleEdit

Sister citiesEdit


  1. ^ City of San Fernando | (DILG)
  2. ^ "2015 Census of Population, Report No. 3 – Population, Land Area, and Population Density" (PDF). Philippine Statistics Authority. Quezon City, Philippines. August 2016. ISSN 0117-1453. Archived (PDF) from the original on May 25, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Census of Population (2020). "Region I (Ilocos Region)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  4. ^; publication date: 10 July 2019; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  5. ^ a b "Province: La Union". PSGC Interactive. Quezon City, Philippines: Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved 12 November 2016.
  6. ^ "San Fernando: Average Temperatures and Rainfall". Meteoblue. Retrieved 26 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Battle of San Fernando Marker in San Fernando (La Union)". Archived from the original on 2 June 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  8. ^ "History". Official Website of San Fernando, La Union. Archived from the original on 27 January 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  9. ^ Volckmann, R., 1954, We Remained, New York:W.W.Norton & Company, Inc., ISBN 9780393350227
  10. ^ "Battle of Bacsil Ridge - PVAO". Retrieved 2021-09-29.
  11. ^ "From 1987: 'A Damaged Culture' in the Philippines - The Atlantic". Archived from the original on 2016-10-28. Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  12. ^ Manila Today. Mula Sigwa hanggang Commune hanggang EDSA: mga kabataangmartir at bayani ng UP.2016-01-27
  13. ^ a b Burgonio, TJ Museum puts a face on little-known martial law martyrs Philippine Daily Inquirer 2008-09-21
  14. ^ "PALABAY, Armando D. – Bantayog ng mga Bayani". Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  15. ^ Armando Palabay (YouTube Video). Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines.
  16. ^ "Republic Act No. 8509 – An Act Converting the Municipality of San Fernando, La Union, Into a Component City To Be Known As the City of San Fernando". Chan Robles Virtual Law Library. 13 February 1998. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  17. ^ Census of Population (2015). "Region I (Ilocos Region)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. PSA. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  18. ^ Census of Population and Housing (2010). "Region I (Ilocos Region)". Total Population by Province, City, Municipality and Barangay. NSO. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  19. ^ Censuses of Population (1903–2007). "Region I (Ilocos Region)". Table 1. Population Enumerated in Various Censuses by Province/Highly Urbanized City: 1903 to 2007. NSO.
  20. ^ "Province of La Union". Municipality Population Data. Local Water Utilities Administration Research Division. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  21. ^ "Poverty incidence (PI):". Philippine Statistics Authority. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  22. ^; publication date: 29 November 2005; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  23. ^; publication date: 23 March 2009; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  24. ^; publication date: 3 August 2012; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  25. ^; publication date: 31 May 2016; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  26. ^; publication date: 10 July 2019; publisher: Philippine Statistics Authority.
  27. ^ Madrid, Myla B. (6 July 2010). ""Patopat", A Native Delicacy". Official Website of San Fernando, La Union. Archived from the original on 11 August 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
  28. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ Flores, Anne Hazel F. (July 6, 2010). "City celebrates feast of St. William the Hermit". Official Website of San Fernando, La Union. Archived from the original on 2011-01-28. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  30. ^ Madrid, Myla B. (July 6, 2010). "Pindangan Festival 2010". Official Website of San Fernando, La Union. Archived from the original on 2010-10-19. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  31. ^ "Tourist Attractions". Official Website of San Fernando, La Union. Archived from the original on 2012-05-01. Retrieved 2012-12-11.

External linksEdit