I’ve been meaning to write about this since I started surfing. I just didn’t have the time. No. I had the time, I didn’t have the words worthy enough to give justice to my journey as a surfer. I think for most people, surfing is just about standing on a board, looking fancy, having kickass photos (to be posted on Facebook with -insert number here- comments), prancing around in bikini and board shorts, and doing the “shaka” whenever possible.
Every surfer surfs for a reason. Every surfer has his/her story. Here’s mine:
I started surfing at a time when I was still in the process of healing from a terrible experience. I guess at some point in our lives, we hit rock bottom and we’re left standing in the crossroads. That was, by far, the biggest blow I’ve received in my 25 years of existence. Everything was uncertain. Everything was taken away from me. The only thing I was hanging on to at that time was the determination to live up to my second name (Aliya) and bounce back.
It took some time.
I was slowly getting back on my feet when our flag football team (Team Sunken Garden) decided to go on a surfing trip to Zambales. I had mixed feelings about going. Don’t get me wrong, I was excited. Really. However, despite all the excitement, I was worried about some things. I had issues with my body. I’m not exactly fat, but I’m not thin either. I was scared of not being able to stand on the board. I was worried about being judged but as the trip drew near I decided to let go of my inhibitions and just go with the flow.
I remember hating myself for not being able to stand up during the first session. All of my friends were getting stoked with their rides while there I was, struggling. I didn’t want to surf anymore because I felt that maybe, surfing isn’t my thing. Good thing I managed to stand during my second session, thanks to Kuya Pat! Too bad our trip was cut short because all of us had to go back to Manila for work. I remember telling myself that I’ll be back in a week or two to surf again. I really wanted to improve.
And return I did! This time, my rides were longer. I made friends with some of the locals too! My friends and I stayed at Kila Bot Sir Ping Spot, owned by siblings Bot and Ping Danila. My instructors, Jay-R and Pangke, both patient and generous in teaching.
I eventually found myself riding a bus to Zambales every two weeks. Each surf trip gave me the chance to experience new things, meet new people, and learn more about myself. The beach became my happy place. The sand became a bed so comfy I could just sleep soundly and drift to places far and near. The salt water, a blanket that hugged me with each shore entry, as if showing me how much it missed me. The waves sang sweet melodies that were delightful to my ears. Everything was beautiful, and everything in the beach made sitting for four hours in the bus worthwhile.
There were good surf days and there were bad surf days but regardless, I learned to enjoy both. I figured, it would be futile to make a fuss out of not having long rides. After several surf trips, I learned to embrace the fact that wipe outs are part of surfing. With each wipe out, I found myself smiling, getting back on the board, and paddling out again. It’s similar to the traps that we fall into in our daily lives. When we’re faced with challenges, our initial reaction is to drown in depression and let the problem consume us until it becomes our reality. Yes, it’s easy to let ourselves drown and accept defeat but because of surfing, I learned stand up with each fall and bounce back.
I spent Christmas in Zambales last year due to certain circumstances. Pangke, Jay-R, and Noel were kind enough to spend time with me. They introduced me to other locals and surfers. They also taught me how to read waves. Some days, we just sat on the shore and watched the sunset. Jam afternoons were the best. Noel’s a really good guitar player and I sang to every song that he played while Jay-R and Pangke took turns in playing the kahon.
It was also in December when I made the decision to level up by catching a wave on my own. I wanted a solo ride as a Christmas present and it was given to me. 🙂
Catching a wave when you’re a beginner isn’t easy. It takes practice, timing, patience, support from people who know you, and most of all, BELIEF IN YOURSELF. A simple “I can do it” goes a long way. It took me months to take the risk, hours to catch a wave, and a ride that’s seconds long to prove to myself that I can do it. That it can be done. That it’s possible. Since then I’ve been surfing solo but for safety reasons, I still make sure that the pros are nearby.
I met a lot of people because of surfing. Most of them are acquaintances- turned-good friends; proof that a simple exchange of hellos goes a long way. I met some of them while waiting for waves at the line up, some through another surfer, and some during hang out sessions at KBSPS.