A public art installation made of recycled materials along the beach in La Union aims to inspire locals and tourists to rethink their waste while providing a unique vantage point to watch the sunset.
Standing along the sandy shores of San Juan, a short walk from the main strip of surf resorts and restaurants is a spaceship-like sculptural artwork that makes use of bamboo, discarded items, and recycled plastic waste including old water gallon bottles.
Mebuyan’s Vessel, which was created in 2021, is a large-scale art installation by Leeroy New, a well-known international visual and contemporary artist-designer. Initially trained as a sculptor, the artist, who hails from General Santos City, is known for intersecting film, theater, product design, and fashion in his artwork.
The public art installation is said to be a homage to Mebuyan, the Bagobo goddess of the underworld. Composed of 21 interconnected pods right on the beach of San Juan, the art installation aims to be a “portal to many possibilities and new myths for the coastal town.” From afar, the structure resembles a spaceship with different spheres connected together with ramps and stairs.
Launched as a project of Emerging Islands, a pandemic-born residency program focused on arts, community, and ecology in La Union, this unique art installation has provided a venue for locals and tourists to see different works of art, engage in community storytelling on the issues that face the coast, and a public space to enjoy the famous La Union sunset.
Visitors can enter and walk around the tall, open structure with uneven levels, climb up the steps and ramps to the different pods, and get a better view of the shore and beach.
Some of the pods showcase photographs created by artists from the different parts of the Philippines that depict the connection to water and the island. Other pods have informative posters on the local flora and fauna, including the birds of surftown, the importance of coastal forests, and native trees.
In case you haven’t been to Elyu in a while, and are looking for something new to do in between your surfing sessions and food-tripping, be sure to check out the art installation while the structure still stands.
Mebuyan’s Vessell is located along Kabsat Road, Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union. No entrance fee to visit.