Choose or Be Chosen

I’m starting this entry with a big lump in my throat. I’m holding back tears because it’s weird (and difficult) to type and cry at the same time.  I’m browsing through my journal and the very few photos I managed to take during the Nonviolent Interfaith Leadership Program in Melbourne, Australia and I’m feeling a roller coaster of emotions. It’s a good thing I paid attention to Efrat’s sessions where we were taught to observe emotions and greet it as it enters our “guest house”.

I’ve been meaning to write about my NILP experience but I always ended up staring at the big white space on the computer screen. It’s a tough entry to start because how do you compress five day’s worth of learnings, and epic moments with people from different parts of the globe? It’s challenging but since I feel like it’s a story that needs to be shared to whoever’s patient enough to visit my page and read my entry, here goes:

At a room  with brick walls, high ceilings, carpeted floors and big windows in Edmund Rice Retreat House is where I met people who will forever be a part of me.  These are strangers turned friends who managed to break down the walls I built and see a deep part of my soul. These are people from different parts of the world who treated me like family even if it was their first time to meet me. These are people who experienced what I experienced during the Nonviolent Interfaith Leadership Program 2014 organized by Pace e Bene Australia.

A threshold of stories, self discoveries, and God-given gifts. This room was our shared space for five days.
A threshold of stories, self discoveries, and God-given gifts. This room was our shared space for five days.

On the first day, we were welcomed through a ceremony where we touched soil that ancestors from thousands of years ago walked on. The soil was warm underneath my ice cold palm. We then faced the Yarra River with palms facing the clouds and breathed in the cold Melbourne air. We didn’t talk much and I liked it. At that moment, I realized how blessed all of us are that our ancestors from thousands of years ago took good care of the land. I hope we do the same for the future generation.

After the simple but meaningful ceremony, we made our way back to the room and sat on the chairs that were formed in a circle. To break the ice, Ann invited us to pass around a ball of yarn while saying each other’s name and country. We held the yarn until the last person introduced himself and by then, we had already formed a web. We placed the yarn on the floor and it stayed there until someone decided to untangle it again and form a ball.

To know more about each other, we were then asked to share with two or three others the origin of our name, people who inspire us, places that inspire us, and our experiences. I was surprised at how much one can share just by talking about the name! It was a very powerful exercise.

Interconnection.
Interconnection.

We lit each candle after each sharing to invite the spirits of our ancestors, inspirators, places, and experiences. I like how it also made us feel that there were more than thirty of us in the room, but not in a creepy way. It kind of gave me the assurance that I may be physically alone, but I have a battalion with me ready to back me up no matter what.

Sessions on nonviolence and self discovery started the next day. There were invitations to do the Labyrinth at 6:30 in the morning but I decided to sleep in since I haven’t had enough sleep yet. Add to that the fact that Australia is two hours ahead so 6:30 AM to them is 4:30 AM to us in the Philippines. We started the session with shared silence and this made me realize how scared I am of it. I hate not hearing anything because my very visual mind wanders off to scenes from horror movies that freak me out even in broad daylight. I also noticed how noisy the mind can be despite the lack of noise around us. After twenty minutes of silence, and a couple more minutes for “check in” we went on with our session. I won’t share the discussions so I won’t spoil anything, just in case you decide to join the program.

We were given plenty of quiet time in between sessions. These were minutes (sometimes hours) that I valued because it gave me the chance to process the discussions. I like listening, but I also like writing the things that I heard to help me process and digest them. There were also times when we’d find ourselves working on the rice mandala, talking to whoever was also there while adding designs. We had plenty of tea time, too. There was morning tea, afternoon tea, and evening tea. I’m not a tea drinker, but I became one. Yay.

Silence.
Silence.
A little bit of everything. These grains of rice hold stories shared by some of us.
A little bit of everything. These grains of rice hold stories shared by some of us.

On the third day, Baqir, Vila, and I went down to the Yarra River to take pictures. Yes, at 6 in the morning. In Australia. In case you’re wondering, it was VERY cold. It was also drizzling. We were hoping for some fog and sun, but all we had was rain. We still went down the river, stopped after a few steps to take pictures, laughed at each other for being silly enough to walk under the rain, and shared stories in between shutter clicks.

Good morning.
Good morning.
The Yarra River.
The Yarra River.
Impermanence.
Impermanence.

We had different night activities. The first night was spent listening to the stories of Efrat and Bagir who both experienced violence but reacted nonviolently. It’s amazing how people who went through a lot are always the ones with the biggest smiles that radiate positive energy. The second night was spent watching short films. The third night, for me was the most intimate and meaningful. It’s a night that I will never forget for as long as I live. The fourth night was just as meaningful because we shared a piece of ourselves to the group. Some wrote poems, some shared jokes, and some shared films that they made. I shared with them “Aliya” – a song I wrote back in 2006. It was the first time that I shared the song with a group of people and it was nerve wrecking.

On the last day, we learned about open space and how it can make a difference in one’s way of thinking. It allows you to open yourself up to the possibilities, and accept them as they come. At around noon, it was obvious how people were avoiding the fact that the program was nearing its end. At around three in the afternoon, we gathered in the circle again to close the program.

Closing.
Closing.

Going to Melbourne to attend NILP 2014 was a big step for me. I’m not exactly open to the idea of travelling to another country alone because that means stepping outside my comfort zone. The thought of having to talk to people who don’t speak my language freaks me out and I’m not even worried about my capacity to speak English. I’m worried about being discriminated, of having difficulty in understanding what they’re saying because of the language barrier, of getting lost, of losing my luggage (this happened, but that’s another story), of missing my plane, and of being alone. God must have wanted me to go because despite all my excuses and reasons not to go, I found myself leaving for Melbourne early last month.

Choose or be chosen. I’m glad I chose to apply, and I’m even more glad that I was chosen. NILP taught me to be brave, to accept experiences (even the bad ones) as chapters of my life’s story, and to be open to possibilities. I learned so much from my batchmates, and up until now I still hold the conversations I had with each and everyone of them in a very deep place in my heart. I’m still grateful that they created a very safe space, that made deep and soulful stories emerge. Listening without judgement. Acceptance. Love. Care. Companionship. Interconnection. Impermanence.

To be nonviolent in a world filled with violence. To love despite hate. To take courage despite fear. To take chances. To step outside the comfort zone. To understand that the world is bigger than the four walls of your room. To take a leap of faith. To be open to possibilities. To accept change. These are just some of the many things I learned during NILP.

Now, allow me to raise my hands, wave them and say, Pace Bene!

 

Surfing in La Union

In a parallel universe, I’m on a surfboard riding the best wave of my life. For now, I’ll have to satisfy my craving for long rides, wipeouts, saltwater, and sand by watching surf videos and looking at surf photos. Yes, I am surf deprived and boy oh boy I’d give anything to surf again… but it’s almost flat season so…. but there are still waves somewhere so… but I need to work on our products… but the waves are calling… but… but… ah, let me tell you about my surf experience in La Union instead.

I rode a van from Baguio to San Juan. In case you’re wondering why I came from Baguio, you can read it here. I was told to get off once I see Sebay and walk towards Fatwave Surf Resort since that’s where we’re booked. Because it was my first time there, I decided not to sleep so I won’t miss my stop. Looking back, it wasn’t hard to look for my stop at all since it was a long stretch of Surf resorts. Add to that the fact that there’s a huge sign in green and white that says “Surfing Area San Juan Beach”.

I was supposed to meet my cousin and two of our friends there but since they went to Tangadan Falls, I decided to go to our room, change clothes, rest for a while, and wait for them. They arrived a little over thirty minutes after and since they were hungry, we made our way to the dining area to grab a bite. I was very thankful that there were baby waves, contrary to what the forecast was saying. My surfer friends would always tell me that it’s always a plus or a minus that’s why I still take risks and pray to the heavens that they’ll be kind enough to give us “surfable” waves. Sometimes the prayer works and sometimes it doesn’t.  At around five in the afternoon, we grabbed our surfboards and paddled out.

Sunset surf <3
Sunset surf ❤
"I'm so happpyyyyyyyyy!!!"
“I’m so happpyyyyyyyyy!!!”
With my instructor, Benito
With my instructor, Benito
Yes please :)
Yes please 🙂

We surfed until it was dark and it was the best feeling in the world. If there’s one thing I enjoy doing, it’s sunset surfing. You paddle out, see the sun on the horizon, wait for a wave, surf, and then paddle out again. I find peace in watching the sun paint the sky with different shades of red, blue, pink, and purple – a perfect harmony of colors before it bids the world goodbye at least for twelve hours.

The group went to Flotsam and Jetsam for dinner and we feasted on sumptuous food while lounging in cozy bean bags and listening to hits from the 90s since, coincidentally, it was Lorraine Lapus’ engagement party that night. Flotsam and Jetsam really gives you value for your money. The ambience is great, the food is excellent, and you get to meet a lot of people. Too bad I didn’t take pictures because I was too hungry. If you want to know more about them, visit this page.

With Fin, J9, and Xie.
With Fin, J9, and Xie.

We woke up early the next day for more surfing. We were singing, cheering each other on, playing with the GoPro, and enjoying rides both short and long. When it was almost 12, we went back to Fatwave to shower, change clothes, and pack our stuff. We dropped by Surfstar to claim our free shirt. Yay! That made the trip even more fun! For lunch, we went to Marv’s house. They cooked sinigang which is one of my favorite dishes. The group hung out for a while and by 4 PM, it was time to go back to Manila.

The Frolic Girls: Koko, Xie, J9, Aliya, and Fin.
The Frolic Girls: Koko, Xie, J9, Aliya, and Fin.

Surfing in La Union was a very memorable experience for me. It was great to be back on the ocean, ride the board, and paddle until my arms feel like noodles. I also met two new surfers :Marv and Benito who are funny, accommodating, and very patient. Should you wish to learn how to surf when you’re in La Union, I highly recommend that you look for them.

If you want to surf in La Union, you can contact Marven Abat to learn about their surf lifestyle packages. For now, I’ll leave you with this video. Enjoy! 🙂

Toast to Happiness

I love nutella. I like dipping the spoon in and enjoying that lovely jar of happiness while watching a movie, reading a book, editing photos, and the list goes on. It’s the ultimate comfort food and it adds a sweet kick to almost anything! You can spread it on top of a cookie, waffles, toast… Speaking of toast, have you been to Cafe Shibuya?

A very good friend of mine and I met up for lunch yesterday. We passed by Cafe Shibuya, looked at the menu, drooled because of the photos of the food that looked really yummy, and went to a different restaurant after mustering up the courage to walk away because I was craving for soup. After lunch, we were in the mood for dessert and my friend suggested that we go to Cafe Shibuya.

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It is a quaint cafe with a very laidback atmosphere. You can go there and hang out with your friends or if you’re more into spending time alone, you can just sit in one of the chairs and enjoy reading a book. The place is very cozy and the wooden tables and chairs remind you of home, it’s tempting to just stay there the whole day and chill.

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Indeed, there is!
Mason jar lamps. How creative!
Mason jar lamps. How creative!

Cafe Shibuya specializes in savory buttered toasts that are topped with probably a few of your favorite things. They also have Ghirardelli chocolate frappe which is both sinful and delicious. The Nutella toast was a no brainer for me. My eyes stopped scanning the page the moment I saw it on the menu. My friend, on the other  hand, ordered Mango Caramel and it was just as good. The toasts are served with vanilla ice cream which makes it all the more sinful, but who cares about gaining a few pounds (which you can shed anyway) when every bite takes you to heaven? My friend and I found ourselves smiling while munching on our toasts. The toasts are a little crunchy on the outside but soft and chewy on the inside.

Nutella Toast
Nutella Toast
Mango Caramel Toast
Mango Caramel Toast
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Nutella toast = instant good vibes. 🙂

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You’ll find Cafe Shibuya at the ground floor of the UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue. They’re open from 10 AM to 10 PM from Sunday to Thursday,  and 10 AM to 12 MN on Fridays and Saturdays. The meals and desserts are affordable, but if you’re on a budget you can always share the meal with a friend. To know more about Cafe Shibuya, like their Facebook page here.

***

Photos by Marikit Mateo and Aliya Agbon

All Is Swell

 

Scarf, Saizen | 'All Is Swell' Shirt, Coast Thru Life | Lace skirt, Jatujak | Leggings, Watsons | Sneakers, Converse
Glasses, SM Department Store | Scarf, Saizen | ‘All Is Swell’ Shirt, Coast Thru Life | Lace skirt, Jatujak | Leggings, Watsons | Sneakers, Converse

We rise up when we fall and when we do, we become better versions of ourselves. I believe that at some point in our lives, we hit rock bottom and when that happens, the temptation to just stay there and dwell in the negativity of the situation is hard to resist. To hate the world and blame everyone for living lives better than ours is always our go to option as humans compared to acknowledging the situation and eventually accepting it as a part of our life’s story. I used to take the easy route and just allow my emotions to get the best of  me. The younger version of me enjoyed having people care for me and look after me. It felt good for some time until I realized how weak and dependent I’ve become. I failed to live up to the meaning of my second name, ‘Aliya’.

 

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Ballers, Billabong San Juan Surf School (White) and Roxy (Pink) | Bracelets, Amihan sa Dahican | Bag, Thailand | Anklets, Amihan sa Dahican (red, green, yellow) and Jenny Tañedo

To acknowledge that you’ve hit rock bottom is one thing, and to make the decision to make your way out of the hell hole you’re in and rise up is another. I can’t remember how many times I hit a slump in my life, but I do remember receiving the biggest blow and making the decision to deal with the situation head on. People usually think that facing challenges is a piece of cake but I tell you, it’s hard work. The monster that whispers words that feed negative thoughts which eventually spiral into some twisted form of reality when you wake up at say, 3 in the morning does not help either. Most of the time, you find yourself playing a tennis match in your head where one side says all systems go, and the other makes you doubt every step you take towards picking yourself up and moving forward. It’s a feat, it’s exhausting, but trust me when I say that though the battle may be long, you’ll definitely come out strong.

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Every challenge comes with lessons that need to be learned. Yes they’re difficult, and we all have our fair share of trials that we wouldn’t wish on anyone but in retrospect, I believe these trials are life’s way of molding us into the people that we’re destined to be. You can’t go to chapter three without reading chapter one. Sure you can skip, but then the story won’t be complete. I’m not trying to sound like some hyper optimistic know-it-all. What I’m trying to say is maybe, just maybe, with a slight change of perspective it’ll be easier for us to prepare and deal with the roadblocks ahead.

***

Photography by: Wu Vila

Location: Botanic Garden, Melbourne, Australia

“All Is Swell” shirts

were designed by Carla Sebastian

as part of Coast Thru Life’s efforts to raise funds for

the survivors Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). 

Sugar Pappi

To make my mom’s birthday extra special, I ordered cupcakes from Sugar Pappi – a pâtissiere based in Cotabato City. My good friend Steph runs the business with her brother, Fore, and I’ve always been a fan of their pastries. I’ve known Steph since socks with laces and ribbons were in vogue. We used to spend weekends at their house and since she’s into baking and cooking, she’d ask us to sample her dishes –  all of which we indulged, of course.

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I ordered nine boxes of chocolate, choco vanilla, and strawberry cupcakes for my mom’s birthday. The presentation was really impressive. It’s noticeable that the siblings paid attention to the details which shows how passionate they are with the work that they do and that they value their clients.

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Chocolate cupcake

People started getting their share of cupcakes once I finished working on the cupcake tower. Most of the guests liked the chocolate flavored cupcakes while the rest were torn between choco vanilla and strawberry.

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Strawberry cupcake
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Choco vanilla cupcake

The cupcakes were so pretty I didn’t want to eat them. I made sure that each cupcake was photographed before giving the guests permission to eat them. I’m glad that the cupcakes tasted just right; not too sweet and not too bland. The height of the icing was okay as well, it wasn’t messy to eat. I’m glad that the guests liked the cupcakes. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on my mom’s face when she saw the cupcake tower. My personal mission was to make my mom very happy on her birthday and Sugar Pappi helped me achieve my goal.

Dear reader, if you’re based in Cotabato City and you want to make someone feel special or if you just want to give in to your pastry cravings (which will be very hard to resist trust me), order from Sugar Pappi. To order, you can call/text 09427799509 or email sugarpappi@yahoo.com. You can also follow them on Instagram : @thesugarpappi.

Secrets

We all have secrets. Some secrets, we choose to bury deep within us because although it’s fun to share every snippet of our lives with others, there are still things that we want to be selfish about and these we keep to ourselves. Some secrets we share to a small group of people who we consider as family. Some secrets are only secrets at present, revealed one, two, three or more years later.

There are secrets behind the dresses I’m wearing in this post and since I’m feeling a little generous today, I’m sharing them with you.

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Dress, Crossings | Shawl – turned – skirt, Joey Rodriguez | Makeup and photography by Adele Katerina Raya

If the skirt looks familiar, it’s because I used it for this post.  I bought the dress for a formal event last year from the department store. I’m not really into designer dresses and I had no plans of spending thousands on a dress that I’ll only be able to wear twice or thrice a year so I chose a simple dress that can be worn on any occasion with a few tweaks here and there. This dress originally had a black lace skirt that dropped five inches above my knee. Since I was going to a formal event, I decided to make the dress look more elegant by attaching the shawl that I used for my third year prom and making it look like it’s originally part of the dress. Inside the dress are more or less fifty safety pins securing the shawl to the dress. This is secret number one.

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Violet top, Adele’s | Skirt, Joey Rodriguez, Makeup and photography by Adele Katerina Raya

The skirt is part of the gown I wore for my third year prom. This is secret number two. I guess when you own something that you invested on not only financially but also emotionally, you’d want to keep on using it to make the most out of it. It’s like holding on to a jar that releases happy memories whenever opened. This gown has so much meaning and I’ve become attached to it that I use it whenever I have the chance. This was the gown that I wore during my 18th birthday celebration, and many other formal occasions that I attended in the past.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering what the gown looks like so here goes:

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Some secrets are meant to be hidden, and some are meant to be shared. We share these secrets not to elicit controversy or make the world revolve around us. Instead, we share these secrets to let other people know how we make the most out of things and situations in our lives. Well, in this entry’s case, the gown.

Special shoutout to Adele for asking me to pose for her and for being very patient with me. She did a wonderful job. I had a great time. 🙂

Amihan Skim Sessions

The first time I went to Dahican was last June. I learned about it through a friend’s skim video that forever lingered in my memory. She was trying to show me how impressive the skills of the children were but my eyes were focused on the glassy waves, white sand, and blue water. Oh to ride a glassy wave with water so clear you can see the colorful corals and fishes underneath!

When we arrived, I was greeted by Alantoy who “briefed” me about the place. Turns out the Amihan Boys (that’s what they’re called) have been taking care of the beach for years now. They built a hatchery for the pawikans, they clean the shore daily, and sometimes they dive to check on the marine life underneath. They do it for love, and you should see how their eyes glimmer with passion as they share their story.

It has not been an easy life for most of them, but through surfing, skimboarding and skateboarding, they were able to cope that’s why their free access to these board sports are very important to them. The beach is a playground and a place of healing for these boys. They wake up at the crack of dawn, grab their skim boards and charge. Be it on flatland or on a wave, regardless if the sand is hot or cold, these boys will run, drop the board, and ride until they get stoked.

Dahican beach and the Amihan Boys have become a training venue for our Mati’s very own Sonny “Bayogyog” Aporbo, who won the Penang International Skimboarding Competition twice in a row.  Bayogyog taught himself how to skim and he started when he was only seven years old. He is living proof that if you push hard enough despite the curved balls life throws your way, you will succeed.

I’ve been to Dahican thrice this year and I managed to capture their some skills in stills and in motion. I’m sharing the video (and the stoke) with you. I want you to see how beautiful Dahican is and when you do, I want to ask for your help in preserving the beach. There are people who also want to indulge in its beauty, but refuse to take good care of it. Some would go there on a picnic but would throw their trash anywhere, while jetski riders would ride around the area where the corals are, not knowing that they’re disturbing marine life. I’ll write more about this in the blogs to come but for now, I give you, Amihan Skim Sessions. 🙂

I Speak Peace

I believe in positive youthful energies, in being the catalyst for change and expressing my stand in various issues through creative means. I’ve never been one to write articles filled with thousands of complicated words to state an opinion, simply because it’s boring and people won’t be reading it anyway. Well, okay, maybe some will, but I’d rather let people hear what I have to say through a song, see it through a painting or a photograph, or understand it further through a short film. I’m known for wearing my heart on my sleeve since I feel like if I opt not to express my feelings I’ll explode. I guess this is the reason why I decided to wear my I Speak Peace shirt after not wearing it for a very long time.

Earrings, Hong Kong | I Speak Peace Shirt, Eco Choices, Shawl-turned-skirt, Joey Rodriguez | Anklets, Amihan Boys + Jatujak | Shoes, Rusty Lopez
Earrings, Hong Kong | I Speak Peace Shirt, Eco Choices, Shawl-turned-skirt, Joey Rodriguez | Anklets, Amihan Boys + Jatujak | Shoes, Rusty Lopez

With all that’s been happening in our country, in the world, even, it’s hard not to feel disheartened. Months ago, there was was in Zamboanga, typhoon in Northern Luzon ( I experienced this firsthand and it’s crazy) and just recently, earthquake in Bohol. I’ve decided to avoid watching the news at night because 95% of it is bad news and I want to sleep with a happy heart and a smile on my face, thank you very much. Most of the time it’s tempting to ignore all the bad things that are happening but how can you, especially when you know that these situations are putting lives in danger.

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With all that’s happening, I decided to wear the I Speak Peace shirt since it sums up what I want to say. This shirt was designed during our I Speak Peace Camp back in 2007. The camp was designed to empower the youth and to encourage them to speak up and let those who were in charge of the peace talks hear what they have to say. Most of the time, young people feel that they don’t have the right to express themselves because they’re young and they’re not in the position of power. The camp became a venue for them to understand the importance of speaking up especially in situations that involve them and their future.

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Wearing this shirt reminded me of the discussion I had with one of our camp participants. He said that peace is not the absence of war and seeing what has been happening in our country these past months, I understand what he was telling me. I wear this shirt again today because I need to be reminded to still speak peace despite difficult situations and to speak up and let my voice be heard.

It takes a lot to wear this shirt. You have to make sure that your actions do not contradict what the shirt says. You can’t get mad no matter how annoying the situation is and you have to be nice even if it kills you. It’s not that wearing the shirt is a burden, no. It simply means that you should be mindful of your words and actions because you’re wearing a shirt that says “I speak peace”.

I believe that peace is still possible. I believe in change. I believe in making a stand through creative expressions.  I believe in statement shirts. I believe in the I speak peace shirt.

Silver Plus One

Last October 24, I added another year to my age. I was excited to celebrate my birthday this year for two reasons: I get to spend time with my family and I get to surf.  🙂

My heart has been overflowing with happiness since two weeks ago. God has showered me with blessings and each day, I woke up wanting to express how grateful I am, but never finding the words worthy enough to show what I really feel. It’s been some time since I felt this way that’s why I was thrilled to welcome my 26th birthday. Too excited, I have to admit. I had a hard time sleeping because I was so happy.

It was nice to wake up to my mother’s very tight hug. She woke me up at around 5:30 in the morning since we had to leave early for Dahican. We stopped by Cafe France for breakfast since she’s been wanting to eat there since the night before. We were lucky because the place wasn’t full and there were parking slots available. The restaurant staff were very accommodating and attentive to our needs; they even greeted me happy birthday. 🙂

It was already 9 in the morning when we left for Dahican. Traffic not permitting, we arrived in Dahican at 2 in the afternoon.  I was looking forward to having an afternoon surf session, but since the waves were too small, I decided to take pictures of the skim boarders. The way they run, skim, flip their boards and ride the waves is like beautiful poetry. How they do it effortlessly is a mystery to me.

And he's only 11.
And he’s only 11.
Bayogyog Aporbo, 2-time champion of the Penang International Skimboarding Competition
Bayogyog Aporbo, 2-time champion of the Penang International Skimboarding Competition

After taking pictures and teaching my brother the basics of surfing, we ate dinner. The number of people in the venue was starting to grow since the Sambuokan Festival competition participants and event guests were starting to arrive. We had the chance to talk to Alantoy who immediately gave us updates on what’s been happening the past few months. It was nice to see him and his brother, Bochok, again. They’re kind of my surf family here in Mindanao. After dinner, we went to bed since we planned on going dolphin watching and surfing the next day.

Because of the Sambuokan Festival in Mati, all of the hotels were fully booked. Good thing we were able to rent a tent from the Amihan Boys. They set up the tent near the shore which was a good thing. I liked falling asleep to ocean’s lullaby and waking up to the same song. When I opened our tent the next morning, I was speechless. See, this was waiting for us outside:

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Early morning peelers.
Boys in the city jog for miles while Amihan boys skim for hours.
Boys in the city jog for miles while boys in Dahican skim for hours.

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Langlang, sister of Bayogyog. She's only fifteen years old.
Langlang, sister of Bayogyog. She’s only fifteen years old.

I had my share of stoke that morning too! At 9 AM that morning, after looking for dolphins, our boat stopped at a spot that had glassy waist-high waves. Two of the Amihan Boys were there to assist and they were nice enough to give tips that helped me improve my ride. They also taught my brother how to surf. Both of us were stoked!

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Birthday surf from a different angle.
Sibs. :)
Sibs. 🙂
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Long ride ❤
My brother's first ride. ;)
My brother’s first ride. 😉

My brother and I had our own share of cuts from that morning’s session but we were still stoked. The water was so clear, we could see the corals, fishes,  and sea urchins (unfortunately) underneath. The waves were perfect and the best part was, we had it all to ourselves.

Birthday cut.
Birthday cut.

We stayed at the Amihan Boy’s cottage in the afternoon because our tent was hotter than a sauna. We met new people there, including the youngest of the Plaza siblings: Juan. Some of the younger Amihan boys were there too and they were all smiles as they told us their stories. Some of them came from really difficult situations and according to them, skim boarding helped them cope. It was really good to hear how surfing and skim boarding helped change their lives.

Later that afternoon, Langlang and Jovic taught me how to skim. They said it’s a lot more difficult that surfing but it doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. I really appreciate that they took some time off their skim session just to teach me. I was really moved. I didn’t really do well because I was scared of falling. The board hit me twice and I’m sporting two new bruises on my left leg, but it’s okay. I want to learn how to skim and seeing how it’s done, I know that I will have more scars and bruises.

(c) Bane Agbon
(c) Bane Agbon
With Langlang. (c) Bane Agbon
With Langlang. (c) Bane Agbon

I’m still stoked from my 26th birthday celebration. It was simple, but it was very meaningful. I got to spend it with my family while doing what I love the most. To those who remembered my birthday and took time to send their birthday greetings, thank you so much. My heart is overflowing with happiness and gratitude. ❤