In a land area of 1,493.1 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the civil Province of La Union some 235 kilometers northwest of Manila.
La Union is a province of the Philippines located in the Ilocos Region in Luzon. Its capital is San Fernando City and borders Ilocos Sur to the north, Benguet to the east, and Pangasinan to the south, to the west of La Union is the South China Sea.
In the diocesan territory, the population is 855,690 at the end of 2017, 86.50% are Catholics.
The three ethnic groups are the Ilokanos, the Pangasinenses and the Igorots.
Like the two Ilocos provinces to its north, La Union is mono-ethnic Ilocano. Being Ilocanos themselves, the inhabitants of this province also possess the sense of frugality and industriousness that is shared by all Ilocanos. The province is comfortably affluent however, as land is well distributed, and tobacco, the major revenue crop, brought in its share of boom and prosperity a few years back.
Ilocano is the common dialect, but residents of the coastal barangay of Sto. Tomas and Rosario also speak Pangasinense while the cultural communities in the towns bordering the Cordillera speak Ibaloi or Kankanaey. English and Filipino remain as basic tools of instruction in schools.
Diocese of San Fernando De La Union
(Dioecesis Ferdinandopolitana ab Unione)
Suffragan of Lingayen-Dagupan
Created: Jan. 19, 1970
Erected: April 11, 1970
Comprises the Civil Province of La Union
Titular: St. William the Hermit, Feb. 10
The civil province of La Union which comprises the Diocese of San Fernando was the last territory to be separated from the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia, with whom it intimately shares its history of the faith.
The Diocese of San Fernando was created on Feb. 9, 1970. The late Most Reverend Victorino C. Ligot became its first residential bishop. He was succeeded by the Most Reverend Salvador L. Lazo. The diocese now has a total of 28 parishes in the 19 municipalities of the province which has a total land area of 1,404 square kilometers, and a population of 735, 886 of which almost 84 percent are from the Catholic faith. It is suffragan of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. Its titular patron is St. William the Hermit whose feast the diocese celebrates on Feb. 10 every year.
La Union is bounded on the north by Ilocos Sur, on the east by the mountains of Benguet, and on the south by Pangasinan. Its name is derived from the union of some southernmost towns of Ilocos Sur with the northernmost towns of Pangasinan to form a new province. Hence its Spanish name La Union. This new province was formed in 1894. Its capital, San Fernando, was then already in existence, having been founded as early as 1734.
A Philippine province is headed by a Governor. A Provincial Council (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) is composed of a Vice Governor (Presiding Officer) and Provincial Board Members. A Philippine city or municipality is headed by a Mayor. A City Council (Sangguniang Panlungsod) or Municipal Council (Sangguniang Bayan) is composed of a Vice Mayor (Presiding Officer) and City or Municipal Councilors. A barangay is headed by a Barangay Captain, who is also the presiding officer of the barangay council. The Barangay Council is composed of seven (7) Barangay Kagawads. A similar unit called a Youth Council (Sangguniang Kabataan) is headed by an SK Chairperson with a similar rank to a Barangay Captain. The council is composed of SK Members.
La Union is subdivided into 19 municipalities and 1 city with 576 barangays and two Congressional Districts.
The province enjoys a long dry season, from April to October, protected as it is from typhoons by the eastern mountain ranges on its eastern border. This long summer accounts for the popularity of its beaches and resorts that line up its western coastline from Bauang to Agoo.
The annual per capita income (in Philippines Pesos) is 27,638 (USD599 as of July 2010).
Agriculture remains the people's main source of livelihood, with most of the arable lands planted to rice, legumes, leafy vegetables, root crops, fruit trees, corn and tobacco. Other means of existence of the people in the area is fishing especially those living along the coastline/seashore. The produce of these fishers are marketed within the locality and nearly towns and provinces.
Many manufacturing, construction utility (electric, gas and water), transportation and communication, retail and service firms have put up shop in the city. Most of the local businessmen are engaged in the wholesale and retail trade.
The principal products are rice, corn, tobacco, garlic, sugarcane, and cassava. Grapes are also grown extensively in the area. Cottage industries include blanket-weaving, basketry, bamboo-craft, broom-making, shell-craft, pottery, and furniture-making. La Union is also well-known for its "basi", the native wine made from fermented sugarcane juice.
Bamboo basket was one of the major industries in the area. Although production for the past few years declined, the Local Government Unit (LGU) aimed to bring back the industry through the OTOP (One Town One Product) Program. An OTOP Council was created through Executive Order No. 28 - 2005. The OTOP Council is tasked to develop and promote their bamboo basket.
The Poro Point Economic Zone is now completed to provide investors a range of opportunities to set up light industrial, agro-industrial as well as tourism related activities.
Tourism should not also be downplayed given the province's beautiful scenery and beaches excellent for surfing and other sports activities.
Philippine Long Distance Telecommunications (PLDT) company provide international and national direct dialing capabilities while wireless communications are provided by Globe Telecom and Smart Communications.
There are two TV broadcasting station in the territory, five AM radio stations and five FM stations mostly based in San Fernando City and one in Agoo City.
La Union is predominantly hilly terrain that gradually rises eastward from the shore. Its irregular coastal plain is narrowest in Damortis, Sto. Tomas and widest in Balaoan. Its highest peak is in Bagulin with an elevation of 1,200 feet above sea level. The province has several rivers which are short and rapid.
La Union Province belongs to the Ilocos Region in the northwestern part of the archipelago, now known as Region I, a region known for its towering mountains, thick forest covers, and narrow plains along its coast. The province is narrow, so narrow at some points that the China Sea, along its western border, often sends sunlit sprays up into its foothills on a clear day
Literacy rate (simple literacy) 95.89 percent
Gonsalo's martyrdom at Nagasaki with the other Christian missionaries is regarded as the most tragic and historic event for Catholicism in Japan
Calungsod and his companion Father Vitores baptized infants, children and adults, defying the risk of persecution and murder
Despite being an ordinary layman, Ruiz remained defiant while facing torture by the Japanese and died a brave martyr
He was the first Korean-born Catholic priest and is now the patron saint of Korea
This fabled church is also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross) Church
Asian Catholics who cannot visit famous Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in France can revere miraculous Mother Mary at Velankanni shrine in India. The Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health is popularly known as “the Lourdes of the East” and holds the largest Catholic Church in Asia.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest churches and a historic but also a landmark in Kerala state of southern India. Santa Cruz Church blends Indo-European and Gothic architectural style that draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The cathedral is a great place of devotion and historic significance that survived colonial conquests and invasions to the city.
Mokama Marian shrine on the southern bank of Ganges River bears the legacy persecuted Nepali Catholics banished from their homeland to India for refusing to renounce their faith. Our Lady of Divine Grace Church at Mokama stands about 90 kilometers from Patna, the capital of eastern Indian state of Bihar. Mother Mary is popularly known as Mokama Mata (Mother of Mokama). The church was built to honor Mary in 1947.
The shrine holds a three-meter-tall, white-stone carved statue Virgin Mary on the Tao Pao Mountain in the Diocese of Phan Thiet in southern Vietnam, about 1,600 kilometers from the national capital Hanoi.
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Urakami of Nagasaki is a witness of persecution of Christians from 17th to 19th centuries and deadly atomic bombing during the Second World War. This European-style, red-brick church continues to preserve some relics that survived the atomic bombing. Urakami cathedral, also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral, was almost destroyed when the atomic bomb was dropped on Aug. 9, 1945. The church stood about 500 meters from the hypocenter of atomic explosion. The devastation shattered and charred stone-made statues of saints, which were later preserved as relics along with the surviving head of Virgin Mary statue and one of the church’s original bells.
Our Lady of Akita Catholic Church is Yuzawadai is among the most famous churches in Japan. The church shot into global fame thanks to a wooden statue of Blessed Virgin Mary that wept 101 times and Marian apparitions to Japanese nun Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa that miraculously healed her hearing impairment. Japanese wooden sculptor Saburo Wakasa from Akita city carved the now-famous miraculous statue of Virgin Mary in 1963.
The Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception in Seria is a small church on the western Belait district of Brunei, but it shot into fame thanks to the nation’s most famous Catholic – late Cardinal Cornelius Sim. It is also the second of three churches in Brunei dedicated to Virgin Mary. In fact, Mary has a prominent place not only in Christianity, but also in Islam, the dominant faith in Brunei. Holy Quran mentions Mary seventy times and reveres her as the greatest woman to have ever lived.