Monaliza + REEF Beach Clean-Up (My LU Finale)

Saturday, October 08, 2016

My 6th day agenda in La Union with surf and lifestyle brand REEF Philippines seems appropriate: A coastal clean-up. After enjoying LU's great food, cool people, and beautiful beach for the past five days, it's high time to show it the care that it deserves. The perfect finale? I think so too!

When the Mythical Five left me the night before (back story HERE), I went on a solo tricycle ride to my hotel for the night. I discovered Monaliza through Michael while we were searching for a place to stay post-Kahuna. The hotel was almost full when I booked on-the-spot, mostly by people working for REEF, but also because it's already the weekend!

I got the non-airconditioned room to save a few bucks, but it is beachfront and with a private CR. The madam in front gave it to me at a discounted price of Php 900 (I think original cost is Php 1200+). That's my room on the ground floor, left side. I had the best view in the morning.

This was my room, with a twin bed, a basic table, chair,  a full length mirror, electric fan, and a cabinet:

The CR with working flush and shower, a roll of tissue, and a small bar of soap:

Sink is located outside the CR:

Overall, it's a basic box room, but just the right lodging for me to spend the night before meeting my friends and REEF Philippines. I had the sockets all to myself so I was able to charge all my camera, phone, and power bank without being a hogger; and I had a comfortable sleep and bath time. 

But of course, I wasn't used to spending a night alone in a place that's not my room. I suddenly realized how I haven't solo traveled yet, and this felt like a first for me! While wide awake on my bed, I recounted the nights I slept alone outside our house, and all I can think of was my Boni dorm experience early this year. Anyway, so I double checked the locks, windows, what's underneath the bed, and all the corners of the room before finally retiring for the day. More than ghosts, I was afraid for my safety!

It was one of the longest night in my life.

When I woke up early the next day, I was waiting for messages from my friends who joined REEF Philippines' shuttle from Manila. I was excited to finally meet them at the beach! But it was still 6am, and they were still in Pampanga. I told them I will just have breakfast, and sleep some more.

During breakfast, I met the French guy manning Le Point Bar of Monaliza. There were only a few of us who availed breakfast that day, so it's easy to hold a small talk. He asked me about my camera, so I told him I'm a blogger and I was there since Monday. But I'll be covering the REEF Coastal Clean-up so I extended my stay. 

Sir, on the other hand, has been in the country for so many years already (sorry I forgot the detail!). What stuck to me was when I asked why he decided to stay here in La Union, "I love the lifestyle, I love the people." I learned that Le Point is a new bar in LU, so do drop by and support this new business if you're going to La Union soon! The owners are dog-lovers too, you might meet their cute fur balls on your visit!

By 12nn, I was evicted to my room so I walked with my luggage and backpack to Costa Villa.

I was told that this will be our hotel for the REEF event. The place is located even farther from Flotsam and Jetsam, and life-size cartoon characters will greet you on each of the houses:


While walking there, ang dami kong nakasalubong na kakilala ko! One was Circle's PR, and the other one was my surf instructor. I felt like a local already! Hahaha.

When I got the go-signal from my friends, I walked back to The Little Surfmaid Resort just next to Monaliza where the REEF Philippines team was gathered.

After they ate, we went on right away to the trip's main agenda. It honestly felt good to be with people close to me, and be socially responsible bloggers together:

The tidying on the stretch of the Urbiztondo coast line served as an act of raising awareness, to restore and preserve the beauty of San Juan beach. This also served as a mini immersion of sorts as the locals of the city actually clean their beach on a regular basis to express their love for the beautiful landscape of LU. To be honest, halos wala kang mapupulot na basura!

We were divided into two groups in which one team picked up biodegradable waste and another handled the non-biodegradable. The fun was brought up a notch as the cleanup played out like a treasure hunt game (i.e. finding the bottles with the REEF logo).

Nico looking for the REEF bottles, hehehe:

An educational talk facilitated by WWF Philippines followed suit. This time, the goal was to teach everyone about responsible travel and the preservation of nature. The short talk was very much akin to Reef’s brand mantra of “Just Passing Through”

In our travels, after all, we are just passing through which is why extra vigilance is needed to conserve the community.

After the cleanup, we went to our rooms in Costa Villa to settle down and refresh ourselves. The group decided to maximize the one-day La Union trip, so I brought them to El Union for the classic coffee and smores:

A trip to the heart of La Union is not complete without a good surf, which is why guests were given the opportunity to learn the sport. Owned by one of LU’s celebrated local surfers, Lemon Dines, SURFSTAR School of Surfing introduced the sport, outlined the basics, and helped everyone reconnect with nature while riding the waves. I availed this, of course!

Nico went to surf with me, yehey!

It was my third time to surf during this LU trip, and I'm sad that it's also my last just when I was getting the hang of it. It was a good day though, waves were beginner-friendly, sky is clear.

And finally, a surfing photo c/o Pax! Thank you so much sister for the love, haha! Nobody takes my photos for me, but with @paxieness hindi ko na kailangan sabihin. :)

Of course, photo op with our surf boards after:

I was kilig during this whole afternoon. My heart is happy to share the good La Union experience to my friends:

Brought them, of course, to Tagpuan for dinner. Most of them bought the cold buko juice. :)

Ended the night in Flotsam Jetsam Hotel and Le Point Bar with REEF and WWF. I was in high spirits and knew at the back of my mind it was my last night in LU, so I overly enjoyed the music, drinks and company. It was all mixed emotions, but I am grateful for all of them.

Special thanks to REEF x WWF: Free the Sea Movement for bringing my friends and everyone else together to this fun AND meaningful event. Thank you as well to their event sponsors:

Professional Academy for Culinary Education (PACE), Mrs. Cheffy and Company Food Catering Company, Gardenia Bread, Natures Spring, CDO Food Service, and Doña Maria Quality Rice for always keeping our tummies full, our hotel sponsor The Little Surfmaid Hotel for the gorgeous accommodation, our surf lessons sponsor Surf Star for generously teaching a bunch like us, and Soundcloud Philippines for providing us the OST to a perfect evening.  

It was a perfect ending to a week-long affair with LU. 

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