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'Life In The Bukid' Of Surftown La Union: How A Family Is Making A Home Outside The City
PHOTO BY KURRENT MULTIMEDIA PRODUCTIONS
  • Sawa ka na ba sa city life? Does the price of eggs make you want to up and run? Well, 20 peso eggs aside, the exodus from the big city to a simpler life in the province started even before the pandemic began. For some people, moving can be a return to the hometown, but for others, it can mean a chance to begin again, somewhere new.

    In this episode of Buhay Probinsiya, Smart Parenting Managing Editor Aussy Aportadera Perfecto and ceramic artist Jose Solon Perfecto let you take a peek into their life-in-the-bukid in Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union. Both Aussy and Jos are Manila-born, but are making a life for themselves and their growing family in the surf town, also called Elyu.

    Making the move

    Aussy and Jos both moved to the province with their previous partners, drawn by the vibrant arts and culture scene the area had to offer.

    Jos first moved to Elyu in 2018. A week later, without knowing each other, Aussy had settled into the surftown as well, with her daughter Alana, who is 10 now.

    La Union’s thriving tourist scene and famous beaches support an economy that relies heavily on the tourist trade. Before the pandemic, Elyu flourished. Its beautiful beaches drew in surfers, artists, and entreprenuers whose businesses like El Union Coffee and Clean Beach settled in and grew. Elyu’s creative economy allows for people to engross themselves in creative pursuits, and contribute to the town’s bustling economy in sustainable ways.

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    “Yung commonality is, may creative pursuit for being here in La Union," says Aussy, "Whether it’s in F&B, hospitality or it’s our personal art or culture that we want to expand, this is the place where we go.”

    Mastering the self, yin yoga, and personal journeys

    Aussy completed a certification in yin yoga and meditation before the start of the pandemic in 2019. “I think it came organically, kasi with its philosophies, it fit my own healing journey and my own discovery of my identity.”

    She explains the idea of yin and yang: yin as the slow, more passive side of things and the yang - the energy and passion that drives daily life.

    Aussy says, "I like being able to offer people who live here, people who surf, people who are very strong and athletic and tourists looking for ways to escape that it doesn’t always have to be a party, doesn’t have to be the perfect Instagram post."

    "You can come here and rest, recover, value the practice of meditating," she adds, "Of communing with nature, of being able to just sit with yourself and discover that you’re the only witness you need for your own journey, for your own healing, and your own growth."

    La Union is famous for drawing its share of creatives. Aussy sits in Leeroy New’s installation for Mebuyan’s Vessel during part of her interview, an installation exploring the many-breasted Bagobo goddess of death, who is said to nurse dead children until they are ready to move to the next stage of the afterlife.

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    The art of clay, waves, at ang simoy ng hangin

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    For Jos, it started with the waves.

    “May love ako for surfing. I always ended up going sa weekends sa mga iba’t ibang surf spots na madaling puntahan: may La Union, may Zambales, may Baler."

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    Jos started pottery by taking a summer class with Jon Pettyjohn, who is considered the Father of Contemporary Philippine Ceramics. “Nung bata ako malikot ako, so my parents were really trying to look for something [to help me focus]," says Jos, "Na-notice ko din that this is something that I really like.”

    Jos explained that part of the attraction to the emerging scene in La Union was the creative economy. “Nakita ko din na madaming lumipat dito for a higher pursuit sa sining and kultura," he expresses, "Sabi ko, nako, gusto ko diyan. Lahat ng materyales ko nilagay ko sa isang truck tapos lumipat ako dito.”

    While sitting in his home studio, he elaborates on life in the area. “I like that I’m able to pursue something for myself. Iba talaga yung simoy ng hangin, iba quality of life, iba yung meaning ng success… Makakafocus ka on other things.”

    Jos’s chosen craft is well-suited to Elyu: the province is famous for indigenous pottery made in local dalikan (a firewood-fed stove) with locally harvested clay. His art is available at NOOD New Form Art House in La Union, his home studio, his website, and Shop/1335 at Mabini in Makati City.

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    Love, changing timelines, and a simple life

    “During the pandemic, naging magkaibigan kami,” Aussy explains, speaking about how both their previous relationships ended and their own relationship began. “Talagang na-immerse kami sa buhay probinsiya dahil naka-lockdown kami.”

    They married in 2021 and started to renovate the house that Jos owned to make it a home for their family.

    One of the definite bonuses of buhay probinsiya - mas madami kang time to yourself, and it allows you to adjust your daily routine to your needs, not the other way around.

    “Within the workday, you can even just calm your mind and think about how you’re feeling. Sa city, ang hinahabol talaga is a certain type of excellence,” Jos says.

    Being in the province allows you more time to focus on yourself. They explained a little about their daily routine from having coffee together, quality time with their daughter, and time to train their German Shepherd dog.

    READ: These dogs rescue their owners during Typhoon Ulysses!

    They also explain the pros and cons of living in Elyu. “May certain kind of person na nadraw-draw pumunta dito. Answer that call, the magic of surftown and explore why you’re fascinated by it," says Aussy, "Be honest with yourself.”

    Handa ka ba mag buhay probinsiya?

    If you’re considering La Union as a place to live, here are some tips:

    1. Familiarize yourself with the area.

    Wherever you decide to go, it’s important to visit and stay to see if the vibe, economy, and culture are right for you. Both Aussy and Jos visited and stayed in La Union before they chose to move. While rent or purchasing land costs and cost of living may go down, there are also some drawbacks such as the availability of certain services, ease, and convenience. “There are many conveniences na wala dito,” Aussy emphasizes.

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    2. Manage your expectations.

    Aussy and Jos weathered the pandemic separately and together, and came out stronger. Tempering your expectations can help you be prepared for setbacks or changes, especially in a town driven by a tourist economy. “Madaming unpredictable things,” she adds.

    3. Lastly, know what you value in life.

    “We were able to reprioritize and know what’s important,” Aussy says. What is that for you and your family?

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