Last weekend, it seemed the entire population of Manila was divided into two demographics: those who were at La Union, and those who were not at La Union. If you count yourself in the latter, then you might as well have been there anyway. Because—like it or not—you probably still lived vicariously through everyone’s drunken Instagram stories and “vitamin sea”- captioned photos.
But behind all the cringey videos of people belting out the wrong lyrics to “Ignition” after downing five 5-Minute Drinks, is an ugly reality that can’t be masked by any VSCO filter. Don’t even get me started on the problematic hashtag that is #LaborUnion. Seriously, please read up on what an actual labor union is and know that using it to further your party agenda is a slap on the face to an entire movement. (Also, here are some less harmful, more accurate suggestions for a hashtag: #ElyuBeachFun2018 or #IHaveTheStaminaOfACollegeFreshmanAtAnOpenParty)
Crowds trampling on their mangroves, five-storey speakers blasting EDM at 6AM, and event organizers setting up massive stages atop turtle nesting grounds were just some of the horrors the locals had to endure
In a Facebook post by the Flotsam and Jetsam hostel, they detailed the dreadful aftermath of the weekend’s festivities, caused mainly by the concerts and raves that took place right on the beach. Crowds trampling on their mangroves, five-storey speakers blasting EDM at 6AM (oh god!), and event organizers setting up massive stages atop turtle nesting grounds (oh YES) were just some of the horrors the locals had to endure. Had hostel management not spoken up, the public would have carried on with their untainted memories of “best #LaborUnion weekend ever!”
But one thing that cannot be hidden is the insane amount of garbage people left in their tracks—from cigarette butts and lighters, to beer bottles and plastic bags. “The trash isn’t just on the surface. It piles in layers beneath the sand, so it takes a few days to clean it up,” iterated Flotsam. “Not just a superficial 1 hour pick up session for a media photo op.”
“The environment is now a national concern and hopefully it’s DENR national that looks into all of this—from all the illegal buildings on the beach, to organisers who come and go like a hurricane.”
The sudden influx of guests can be attributed to the recent closure of Boracay—former host to the infamous #Laboracay tradition. Unsurprisingly, partygoers and organizers had to migrate to another location, thus leading to the genesis of the #LaborUnion plague. But, man, have we all not learned a single thing from the deterioration of Boracay? Whether or not the “environmental restoration” reasons for closing the island are true, we all can’t deny that its shores have seen better days.
At the rate things are going, the same could very much happen to the little surf town of San Juan, La Union. While guests have a responsibility to clean up after themselves and not be shit people, ultimately, efforts must also be made on the part of upper management and Local Government Units. “The environment is now a national concern and hopefully it’s DENR national that looks into all of this—from all the illegal buildings on the beach, to organisers who come and go like a hurricane,” stressed Flotsam. “This way we are all treated equally.”
Just be mindful of what you leave behind and remember that your temporary beach getaway is someone else’s permanent home.
With that, let this be a plea to take care of our beaches before all that’s left to swim in is an ocean of trash. Make no mistake, this is not a cry for “omg, LU is getting so mainstream!” Heck, everyone should come to La Union. Surf the waves. Have a horchata from the institution that is El Union. Support the local businesses. And at night, you, too, can have copious amounts of the lethal 5-Minute Drink and dance on a table to “Gasolina” (I may or may not have done this). See for yourselves why so many people would trade their posh Manila life for simple days by the beach. Just be mindful of what you leave behind and remember that your temporary beach getaway is someone else’s permanent home.
And hats off to the folks of Flotsam and Jetsam hostel for leading the good fight.
Words by Isabella Argosino