En Route 02: La Union, Philippines

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En Route is a new series on the blog about travel. I realize that I write a lot while in transit and it would be best to chronicle my travels this way first before creating my photo diaries in the coming months.

I’m traveling a lot this year, and I figured writing this way would be a better way for me to share my personal thoughts on travel, and not just through my photos and places I’ve been to.

April 15, Wednesday / 1:42 AM / Manila time / ABC HQ (disclaimer: I wrote my bullets on my way back during the long drive, lol)

Even if it’s already my second time to visit La Union (first one last November), I still have the same reason for my trip: to escape from life.

I know, I know. It’s just a few days after coming back to Manila from my Eurotrip – that in itself spells e-s-c-a-p-e (hello, I was technically miles away from the drama here, let’s be honest). But then again, I did myself a pretty bad job of refusing to rest on most nights and working after hours instead (I blame the time difference between European countries and Manila for that).

Anyway, so yeah, that wasn’t much of an escape. In my dictionary, vacations don’t directly translate to escapes – only some of them. Going to LU (on a weekday!) definitely is part of what “escape” means for me.

Out of our endeavors to meet up more and escape work on the start of the week (also because it’s summer!), Tippy, Mansy & I headed up north for a dose of art, sun, sea, sand, coffee, cocktails, and everything in between. Realizations and more blahs (from a jetlagged blogger – I can’t sleep) under the cut.

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Work + Play = Balancing Act

WorkPlay-pdpWorkPlay-selfieBeing a freelance artist / instructor / marketing manager / strategist aka being your own boss is no joke. If we’re talking about having that work life balance in check, count me in on the losing end – I’m still on square one as I’m typing this. Currently, I’m fixing my life and calling myself a work in progress on that note. Frustrations aside, the best way I could slowly figure out how to balance work and life is to integrate it in a non-intrusive way.

Case in point: having my workspace by the sea, which only gives me more reason to feel inspired while cooking up new ideas for upcoming projects this second quarter. 5PM situation on our first day (ha, it was a Monday!) post nap time involved idea generation and a few scheduling tasks. In other words, admin work. *cringes*

I couldn’t come up with decent art because I wasn’t in the zone, I guess. It was just beautiful to take in everything – from the warm breeze, delicious food (Flotsam and Jetsam’s Barlic pizza is SO GOOD, I swear) to the amazing company. I didn’t find any reason to still create something and lose myself in that moment of enjoyment I had.


Day two involved more painting – which was good, because after working in transit for the past weeks, I definitely needed to get back to slowly creating and immersing myself in the process of doing so. I also got a few new things from an art store in Paris so I tried out my new sketch pad (more on my haul soon!).

BTW: Special thanks to Vela Manila for my handy envelope clutch (where most of my sketchbooks and notebooks are filed in) and Suelas for my beach pair (so far, I’ve been overusing it a lot)!

Coffee + Cocktails = Conversations


Anything that involves talking always gets to me – and it’s mostly because I’m an introvert. Take me out and I’d rather hang at a coffee shop talking until the wee hours of the morning (about life, art – whatever, anything, basically) than spend the night partying and getting wasted or watching a movie. Talking and listening are two things I find joy in (on some times and dependent on who I’m with, of course) – and it’s always inspiring and enlightening to hear stories and opinions from others. Which is why as often as possible (also to escape my loneliness working alone 24/7) when I’m free from work, I meet up with (specific) people.

I think I just spent forty eight hours talking non stop and sharing stories with Mansy and Tippy. In Filipino, it’s chikahan, lol. It’s funny, because I would never think I’d be good friends with them (let’s admit – it’s hard for me to make friends with my introverted self) with our age difference (lol I act maturely for some odd reason) and the fact that we’re all busy. But I think the differences we all have (in terms of our art forms) connect us on a higher level that makes much more sense for all three of us (which is pretty awesome).

I don’t want to talk about the cocktails part because knowing me, it was pretty bad (and good, but mostly bad). So fast forward to day two wherein we had our last stop at El Union Coffee before it closed at 3PM for our coffee fix.

Mandatory flatlay (because how can you not with the A+ coffee and beautiful shadowplay?!). Coincidentally, we all had mini artworks on hand that we added on our photo, lol.

Back story: El Union is owned by Kiddo Cosio. I met him last year at an event for Fully Booked. I also read up on this article from Pepper about him that was really inspiring. He currently resides in LU with his wife Amy and 3 (adorable) kids – makes me think how lucky these kids are for getting a taste of the carefree island life rather than thriving in crazy Manila.

Anyway, we got to catch up a bit and we’re all pretty convinced that there should probably be a craft event soon in LU. The community there is definitely growing and it’d be nice to bring in a few more creative gigs from Manila to pump up the area. Hmm. Soon, soon.  *makes plans and figures out how to fit it to our schedules*

BTW, this was the situation while the photos above were taken –

LOL. This is us, basically, on most days. We had dirty white + iced mocha, and spent a few minutes chatting more before hitting the road.

(This is gonna be random but anyway, I’m putting this here for a personal reminder in case I get into a mental breakdown of some sort again)


We skipped from topic to topic during our brief conversation at El Union and if anything, I realized that this sketch pad I created (for my workshopsspeaks a lot about our philosophies as artists – that above anything, it’s always important to value and trust the process of creating before even thinking about the next steps that follow.

Oftentimes, I lose myself in the process (because of the constant tug of war between my left and right brain, wanting to both get attention), and it’s nice to have a reminder and know that (1) It’s okay to breathe a little more and loosen up on things, (2) There will always be people who will support you along the way, and (3) You deserve all that you’ve worked for.

Instagram + Blog = Content Management Duties


Truth be told, it’s definitely hard to completely escape work (especially in my case, where the line between work and life is quite blurred), so we didn’t 100% do that. We did end up shooting each other for our respective blogs and Instagram accounts, because content management duties exist!

I have to say, it was pretty fun. It’s not every day that you get to spend time with good friends who have the same priorities as you, such as braving the wind by the sea and enduring the pain of hot sand on your feet to take a good beach photo.
IG Duties1IGDuties-Tippy

Or stopping by in the middle of the road for 30 minutes to take photos with a bougainvillea-filled background. LOL. (Yup, we did that, no regrets)


In other news: I am on to my last spread for my Europe travel journal! I’ve been taking a lot of “hand holding journal” photos so I can eventually compile it on my portfolio. So excited!

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While I’m looking forward to my next trip at the end of April (guess where!), I’m still going to work my way through my submissions and deadlines for this super hectic month. Crossing fingers I survive and not go bonkers when work slowly kicks in, agh. Hope you’re having a swell April! :)

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12 Responses to “En Route 02: La Union, Philippines”

  1. Gianne
    April 18, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Glad you enjoyed your short trip, ate Abbey! I was the one who approached you in Flotsam and Jetsam – thanks so much!!! :)

  2. Abbey
    April 18, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Hello Gianne! Thanks also – nice seeing ya!

  3. Ariana
    April 19, 2015 at 2:36 am

    Good luck Ate Abbey!!!! You work so hard, you should breathe a little more! I’m an introvert too and I’m also guilty of putting all of myself into creative pursuits… and it has only led me to burnout. That said, breathe a little, art a lot! ((yes i’m using art as a verb hahahaha))
    Also, are those real Polaroid shots?

  4. Gail
    April 19, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    Wow! Those are nice sets of pictures! I never experienced La Union, will definitely explore the philippines more! Anyway, I was amused by how well you draw/letter. Not every one could do that!!! You are amazing. Btw, my name is Gail. I really like your blog. Hope we could be friends :)

  5. Abbey
    April 20, 2015 at 1:01 am

    Thanks Gail!

  6. Karole Nina Mandap
    April 22, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    I love your photos ate abbey! :) I’ve never been to La Union but as I see your pictures it makes me feel that I’ve explored and travel this wonderful destination. ^^ Love it. Thanks for sharing :D

  7. Abbey
    April 23, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Hope you can go soon! It’s a nice place :) Thanks!

  8. Catherine
    April 24, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Hi! Ever since you blogged about your previous Elyu trip, my family has been really interested about going there. May I know where exactly this beach is? :) Thank you!

  9. Abbey
    April 28, 2015 at 9:09 am

    That’s the beach in front of Flotsam and Jetsam :)

  10. Jhanz
    April 27, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    La Union looks wonderful! :) I’m so excited to travel there within the week! Yipee!

  11. Abbey
    April 28, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Woohoo enjoy!

  12. En Route: Hong Kong | Abbey Sy
    October 21, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    […] En Route: Paris, France | En Route: La Union, Philippines […]