Meet 5 Girls Who Left The City To Live In A Beach Town

Name: Camille Pilar

Age: 28

Occupation: Writer; barista, El Union Coffee

Current place of residence: San Juan, La Union

Where did you live before moving to La Union, and what was your job then?
I lived in an apartment in Kapitolyo, Pasig and worked at Meridian International College (MINT) in McKinley Hill, Taguig. I taught English and Communication subjects to Media, Music, Film, and Business students.

When did you move to La Union?
I moved to La Union in October 2014, making it two years since!

What made you decide to move?
I wanted a simpler but richer life. Rich not in the monetary sense but in terms of quality of life. It was getting close to impossible to enjoy life in Manila. You get robbed of your time when you spend it powerless in traffic. Retail therapy becomes an easy escape, and soon, you spend more than you earn. It becomes too easy to live a life you can’t afford, thus a life you can’t love, when you are landlocked in the city. In Manila, I felt that I wasn’t in control of my life. Moving to the province has since liberated me from that feeling of being trapped.

How did your friends and family react when you told them of your decision to move?
They were very supportive, and I am thankful for that. I will always be thankful for friends and family who trust my vision, even when it’s slow to unfold at times.

Describe a typical day in your life in La Union.
I wake up earlier, sans alarm! When there are waves, I surf before going to work. I work at El Union, a specialty coffee shop in the middle of surf town. On our days off, my partner Harold and I spend time with our dogs (we have three!) at the beach. We surf more. We cook at home. We clean the house. We go to bed early. These are the simple joys of adulthood!

What do you love most about living in La Union?
I love being part of a highly creative and energetic community of like-minded individuals who also see the value in provincial living. Here, we support each other’s ventures. I consider myself lucky to be friends with hardworking individuals who have put up their own businesses here, so whenever I need something—from bread to bikinis to surf accessories—I get it from people who make these things with love.

What challenges do you encounter living in La Union?
When you move to a new place, you have to make sure your presence will add to the community and not take away from it. We respect the locals here and those who have moved here before us. We follow their lead, and we integrate ourselves slowly but sincerely. We’re still at that stage where we’re learning from everyone; and when the opportunity to make ourselves useful arises, we take it. We help by giving what we can, especially when it means lending skills we were fortunate enough to develop in the city, such as teaching, writing, and designing.

What do you miss most about living in Manila?
I definitely miss my friends there, although they’ve been coming to La Union to visit me and that makes me happy. It’s an instant getaway for them and a mini reunion for us at the same time. The next time I’m in Manila, I’ll definitely go on a food crawl because there have been a lot of amazing food and drink places that have opened since. I’ll also swing by Fully Booked, because I miss being surrounded by all those books and art supplies!

In what ways have you changed since your move?
Living in a tourist destination shows you just how much garbage people leave behind when they’re on vacation. As residents, we strive to help by reducing our own use of plastic. Harold and I do our own beach clean-ups when we walk our dogs. Since we’re always on the beach anyway, it just makes sense to pick up trash that gets washed up or left behind. After all, this is home.

What lessons have you learned from your move?
Here, I’ve learned to give fully and from the heart. When you travel and move to different places, you see that kindness is the real currency of the world. Only when you are good to other people will you be truly good to yourself. 

Photo by Chloe Samontanes

Photo by Chloe Samontanes