La Unión means “The Union” in Spanish. It was formed in 1850 by the Spanish colonial government. The province was called La Union because it is a merge of 3 provinces- the 3 southern towns of Ilocos Sur province, the 9 northern towns of oPangasinan, and the western towns of Benguet.
Ninety-three percent of the population is Ilocano and is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. La Union is highly literate with San Fernando City as the administrative, educational, and financial center of the region.
La Union is known for its soft broom industry. The economy is diversified with service, manufacturing, and agricultural industries spread throughout the province. The Port of San Fernando operates as an increasingly active shipping point, and the former American airbase Wallace Air Stattion, having been converted into a business and industrial area, helps to facilitate such commercial activity.
The main livelihood of the people are: hand-woven blankets (Inabel), soft brooms, baskets, pottery, rice wine (tapuey), sugarcane wine (basi), sugarcane vinegar, wood craft, bamboo craft, native rice cakes, antique-finish furniture, dried fish and fishing.
La Union has 333 public elementary schools, 56 private elementary schools, 79 public high schools, 51 private secondary schools, 20 Colleges and 5 State Universities
EFC- La Union
Evangel Family Church-La Union is situated at Barangay Baccuit Norte, Bauang, La Union, a ten- minute ride to San Fernando City, the capital city of La Union. The rented church is located just beside the national highway or Mac Arthur highway from Manila to Ilocos and 1 and half hour to Baguio city. Just 500 meters to the west is the West Philippine Sea.
In Feb 1, 2002, I, with my wife Ann and our 1 year old son (Ken), arrived in La Union to plant a church. When we set foot in the place, we immediately identified challenges to face:
- Language barriers – we couldn’t speak Ilocano fluently. I grew up in Mindanao while my wife is Ilonga.
- Religious barriers – the place is a very strong Roman Catholic. You can see that every big house has a grotto of Virgin Mary. Above the hilltop facing our rented house is her statue.
- We were strangers – no friends and even relatives.
- The place is called the red district of La Union – there were many night clubs and bars where prohibited drugs were accessible.
These barriers we identified pushed us and challenged us to kneel down in prayer and fasting. My family held a prayer walk for almost 2 months around the community every morning. While doing this, we started house visitations and making friends with people in the community.
In April 2002, we started small groups and family bible studies using the 10 caring circle lessons(CCL).
In May 2002, we launched our first Sunday worship service attended by 25 people. 20 of them were the first batch of CCL graduates. By June 2002, we held our first water baptism. Five persons followed the Lord.
From then on, that year 2002 to 2003, we were thrilled to see God’s miraculous hands working in the ministry.
After a year of pioneering work, we realized that there were a number of people who experienced miracles and freedom through Christ. In our first Bible Study group, one family experienced freedom from idolatry. After a series of Bible Studies, they surrendered 3 sacks of graven images and then smashed the grotto in front of their house. This act of obedience to the word of God resulted to many answered prayers in their family.
Another miracle was a church member whom I found to be quiet but very supportive to me as his pastor. He was working as a panaflex and signboard designer who put up billboards for business all over San Fernando City. He was among one of our first bible study group. At that time he was a hurting man, and hidden within him was an unforgiving spirit. His wife left him for another man even though he had faithfully provided for the family all those years. Because of the bitterness that he had harboured, he could not walk properly and was troubled for many years. After series of bible studies, he humbled himself before the Lord releasing forgiveness. As a result of his obedience, he experienced healing, and he was able to walk properly.
Another God’s miracle was three women who were prostitutes. They came from Mindanao and Visayas to work as waitress but were sold to ‘kabarities’ (pub houses) as ‘Panandaliang-aliw’ (prostitutes). In order to survive, they had to continue this kind of life. Ann (my wife) met them in one of the bible study groups. She simply showed the love of God to them by sacrificing part of our financial resources for them. Little by little, they were being ushered into the fellowship.
God had also healed a boy considered hopeless by a doctor. A town councilor (a government official) in that place has a 9-year-old son who was suffering from a very serious dengue fever. I just happened to pass by the hospital at that time and received an impression from the Lord to pray for the boy. Early the next morning he received a text message from the town councilor thanking God for that miracle that took place that night because one hour after the prayer, the child’s temperature dropped and the fever was gone. The boy did need not go for blood transfusion but instead went home.
But in 2004 to 2005, we went through crisis in the church. Two families left the church. More than half of the members did not go to church anymore. So, only few left to continue to worship the Lord.
In April and May 2006, we conducted the Purpose Driven Life campaign called “40 days of purpose”. Through this evangelistic campaign, the Lord added 6 families into the church every Sunday. More than 20 persons fallowed the Lord through water baptism.
In 2009, La Union was visited by a great typhoon, “Bagyong Peping”. The floods and landslides devastated infrastructures. Many families went through crisis. It was a great opportunity for Evangel La Union to be used by God to help and at the same time shared the Gospel of salvation to the families affected by the typhoon. EFC- La Union was involved for six months of giving relief goods. Because of this, many accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We also planted a church in the community.
Ministries and church updates
Today, the primary ministry of EFC- La Union is church planting. We planted 1 barangay church (EFC Cabisilan outstation church). We also have helped to start the church in Baguio city where Pastor Vernie Malunes and pastor Elvie Malunes are church planters.
We also have a ministry to the Fathers, called “ERPAT”. We train the fathers to become active fathers in the community for Jesus.
We also minister to the women. My wife, (Ann) is in charge of them.
We have also the youth ministry, called “The next Gen” or the next generation.
We also have a ministry to the Children. We reach them out through Sunday school and outreaches.
EFC La Union is committed to fulfill God’s mission until Jesus comes.