La Union was carved from the nine towns of Pangasinan, three of Ilocos Sur and villages of the Eastern Pais del Igorotes in the Cordilleras. It was formally created by a Royal Decree issued by Queen Isabela of Spain on April 18, 1854. The name La Union indicates the union of towns from different provinces.
Spanish colonizers saw a thriving community when they arrived in La Union in 1572. The area was then a dynamic trading center especially for gold for Japanese and Chinese merchants.The Augustinians were the first missionaries to build towns along the coast and converted the residents to Christians. The region became a base for the Spanish colonizers to exploit the gold mines in the uplands. In 1661, Andres Malong of Pangasinan tried to snatch La Union from the Spaniards but was later defeated at Agoo.
In the late 1700s, Ilocano immigrants moved to the region to look for greener pastures thus becoming the majority.
Modern La Union
Presently, La Union is still “young” when compared to older provinces such as Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, Pampanga, Cebu and Cavite. It is a class – A, progressive and developing province. Its 155 years of existence since 1850 testifies to reality of the original vision — a province geared towards peace, prosperity, growth and development. The original “dozen” towns have grown to 19 municipalities and a city. The additional eight are: Santol, San Gabriel, Bagulin, Burgos, Pugo, Tubao, Rosario and Sudipen. Although the rate of economic progress has been noticeable faster in the coastal towns, the interior towns have coped with the pace. The network of modern infrastructure has contributed to the present progressive condition in agriculture, commerce and industry. In the late 1990’s, the national leadership declared La Union as one of the archipelago’s 12 regional industrial centers.
Since the advent of martial law in 1972, La Union has all the more progressed markedly. In commerce, merchants visit and trade from neighboring provinces. Every town has a “tienda” day. Aside from rice and tobacco, the inhabitants grow cotton, silk coconuts, cacao, mangoes and vegetables. The prime commercial and savings banks have their branches in San Fernando. The Central Bank of the Philippines has built its regional office thereat. Tourists are lured by the alluring beaches especially during the weekends. Thus, more new resort areas have mushroomed along the sandy beaches between Bauang and San Fernando. Filipinos have caught up the “beach fever”. Nestled in one of the environment-friendly hills of the city of San Fernando is the home of the only botanical gardens north of Metro Manila. The other tourist-getting spots is the Pindangan ruins and Poro Point in the southern portion of the city.