La Union Photo Diary


La Union is best known for its beaches, and without doubt, the surfing capital of Northern Luzon. The weather was intensely hot and so was the 4th Mt. Dayawen Mountain Bike Downhill Challenge, organized by the La Union Adventure Team. We thought we’d lose our very own Jake, who might have been temporarily blinded by the traitorous sun. Sans body armor and neck brace, he handled so well a nasty gap in the course of his seeding run. During the final run, however, at the same cranny, he bowed to the ground. Blood was seen flowing from his nose. Everyone went frantic seeing him on a spine board and being transported in an ambulance to the hospital.

The girls chased him at the ER. Thank goodness, he miraculously wore Edzel’s neck brace for his final run! The blood apparently oozing out from his sniffer was blood from a freaking blown out zit!

We headed to Gear Mooh after he was discharged. Another gutsy Batibols needed to buy a neck brace.

La Union

– Enticing buknok at the Nipa Resto Grille on the first day. The satiating, exotic union of chicken and buko (coconut) juice was spot on that I needed to duplicate it at home.  Hoping to be able to share my own version here in the blog soon.

Bike Shop WindowBike SceneMt. Dayawen MTB DH ChallengeIdentityMt. Dayawen MTB DH Challenge 2Bike CampMt. Dayawen MTB DH Challenge 3Numbered

– The homie cheering squad in uniforms. Joking aside, the theme dressing was completely accidental:)

Filipino Japanese CakesFood CartBike TruckDownhillSurvivorJR BarbaSagadans

– Caught Pro Category winner JR Barba posing with the Sagadans.

BrandonPoleArmorGruppoGear Mooh

– The Gear Mooh Cycle Parts and Services along P. Burgos in Tanqui, San Fernando, boasts of high-end bikes, parts and gear. Spotted side view mirrors for bikers:) Brandon got a pair of Five Tens to replace his worn out Serfas. (Here’s Miss Daisy’s contact details: 0920-868-6774 or (072) 607-0382  [landline] in case you need to know about something.)

Kaw Bin

– Eating for the soul at Kaw Bin. Feeling depleted, we got hot hototay soup, shrimp curry and miki bihon guisado, their bestseller.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013

Philippine Fiesta Everyday at Halo-Halo de Iloko Balay

Halo-halo Fiesta

Whilst we’re moving into the burning days of the year in northern Ilocos, it’s forever summer in San Fernando, La Union. Following a trip to the Halo-Halo de Iloko Balay, my new-found respect for La Union’s culinary scene makes me want to return to Halo-Halo de Iloko over and over again. During our 2-day stay in San Fernando for the Mt. Dayawen Mountain Bike Downhill Challenge 2013, we escaped to the restaurant at least two times.

The establishment could not cope with the demand for jubilant buko halo-halo and hence we got the next best frosty sweet course, fiesta halo-halo (in an extratall glass rather than on a bed of coconut), intensified with yema pandan and ube add-ons, so rich, yet so good!

Best Summer Cooler: Halo-Halo

Don’t be fooled by the generic looking halo-halo. The ube halaya (candied purple yam) is said to come from San Gabriel (honestly, I don’t know where it is), and there’s also cornflakes, nata de coco, ice cream, bits of cheese, sago (tapioca), some kidney beans, soft balls that taste like milk pastillas, glazed coconut strips (a la bucayo), buko gulaman (jello), carabao’s milk and more or less secret fixings only Xavier Mercado (the owner and creator) knows.

Halo-Halo de Iloko Balay, San Fernando, La Union

{Famished Luis, Christian, Christine, Gayle and Florence.}

Halo-halo de Iloko Balay

The different palabokano is a mound of bihon noodles covered in heavy anatto-tinted sauce with apparent longaniza bits and a scattering of chicharon crumble. The sauce seemed to have some aligue (crab fat) into it, but I might be wrong.


One amongst the several house-stylized Filipino items, okoy (squash and shrimp cakes) appear like they’ve been baked instead of fried. The interesting default texture is better suited to the bready quality of the starchy kind of native squash.

We failed to try one more curious item, emparedados, a native cheeseburger alluding to Vigan longaniza.

Floaty gulaman cubes adds another dimension to the house iced tea.

Halo-halo de Iloko Balay 2

We were less crazy about the binagoongang baboy garnished with julienned mangoes (supposedly a bestselling surf-rice), which was done in a salty sort of way. Likewise with the fish (bangus) escabeche in not-your-usual traditional soupy camatis (tomato) base that is more like tangy Chinese style sweet and sour sauce.

Halo-halo de Iloko Balay 5

{The tiniest restaurant helper, the owner’s cute six-year old son.}

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The original location not too far away got too tiny for the clientele the restaurant has mustered over its nine prolific years. Tourists and locals kept pouring in, but nonetheless service was friendly and pleasant.

Halo-halo de Iloko dares to be different, everything about it has that festive stamp, radiating a fanciful mood that mimics the vivacious side of the Filipino culture.

(Big thanks to the management who surprised me with a bottle of sinamak-like vinegar dip.)

Halo-Halo de Iloko Balay 12 Zandueta St., San Fernando, La Union • Phone No.: (072) 700 2030

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013