Wipeout

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Technically, this still falls under The Sunday Currently. The q&a will come back next week. For now, I just want to write about this wipeout.

I look graceful in the picture, don’t I? It’s like I’m expecting the pain but there’s no way out so I have to deal with it. This priceless moment was captured by my uncle during an epic sunset surf session in Dahican. I say epic because it’s the first time that I mustered up enough courage to catch waves that are taller than me. I’d usually freak out and bail, but Panggoy, a local surfer pushed me to commit. And I did.

I’m posting this picture because in a way, it’s similar to what’s currently happening in my life right now. You know when people tell you that there are highs and lows? Well, they forgot to tell you about how high the highs are, and how low the lows are. In my n years of existence, I’ve experienced highs that are probably higher than Mt. Everest, and lows… well, let’s just say I’ve experienced hitting rock bottom…and staying there for as long as I want. It’s not that I had no plans of rising up again, no. It’s just that when you hit rock bottom, you begin to lose hope. Of course inspirational books will tell you that you are stronger than your circumstances, but those are things that you already know and in all honesty, don’t need to hear when you’re struggling.

My wipeout on the photo looks nasty and yes, it WAS nasty. I swallowed a lot of salt water, the leash got tangled in my legs, and I experienced some cuts from the corals. However, despite that struggle, I went back on the board and paddled all the way to the lineup. I rode all the waves that came after that, and I believe that we should also apply that when we experience struggles in real life.

The first time I surfed, I only managed to kneel on the board. I was scared of falling. I was too conscious. The only time that I managed to stand on the board was when I decided to let go. Who cares if you fall off the board? Everyone falls off their boards at some point. Even the professional surfers fall. Wipeouts are inevitable.

I read somewhere that wiping out is an underappreciated skill and I agree, 100%. Wipeouts allow you to reflect on the things you did wrong and create a new strategy. There are things that you learn during a wipeout and more often than not, those are the things that stick. Not only do you discover a lot of things about yourself; you also become resilient.

Wipeouts are humbling and while I hate it when they happen, I also know that they come with lessons that need to be learned – both on land and in the water. You become stronger with each wipeout and that should mean something. We’ll keep experiencing wipe outs in our lives and the intensity will vary. Some, you can shrug off easily while some will push you down and make it impossible for you to breathe. You will want to give up at some point and those are the times when you shouldn’t.

When all is said and done, what matters more is that we get back on our boards and paddle once more.

Footprints

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Stories | ASUS Zenfone

I believe in happy places, in positive energy and in enjoying every single minute of our lives while we still can. I believe that places have stories and that trees are the best keepers of secrets. I believe in leaving our mark so we’ll be remembered, but I also believe in embracing the imprints of memories that places will leave in our hearts.

My anklets are stories of places I’ve been to, people I’ve met, and moments that I’ll cherish forever. They’ve witnessed my wipe outs, and the countless times I went back on the board to once again try and ride the different waves of life.

The Malihini

Competition Day 1

I buried my toes in the sand and watched as the waves rolled and kissed the shore. They’re bigger than the ones I’ve ridden. Way bigger, and we’re not talking about glassy waves. We’re talking about waves with white water that’s seven to eight feet high. Short board waves, not long board waves. Yet here I am, competing as a malihini in the long board division of the 2014 Philippine Wahine Classic. I must have been out of my mind when I registered.

What if I fall?

It’s just water.

But still.

What if I fall?

Then I heard another voice in my head:

Oh honey, what if you fly?

I found myself second guessing. I thought of backing out especially when I failed to catch a single wave during our training before the competition. Quitting is always easy, but the awful aftertaste of regret is always difficult to let go of, especially when it haunts you every single day. Once the pingpong battle in my head ended, I decided to just push through with the competition. I already paid for my ticket, I traveled a thousand miles to compete, and quitting sounds insane. I decided to apply the concept of open space, the one that says “whatever happens is the only thing that could” so I could manage my expectations.  If I’m meant to win, I’ll win. If I’m meant to lose, I’ll lose. What’s important is I go out there, paddle my little heart out and surf. I also managed to read a text from my mom before paddling out for my heat. She said, “have fun, waves are your friend”.

Preparing for my heat. (c) Ivan Montalban
Preparing for my heat. (c) Ivan Montalban

Paddling out was a struggle for me and Joeren, my caddy. I remember him asking if I want to give up and I said no. Yes, the waves are scary and I’m risking the possibility of drowning and breaking my neck but I didn’t travel all the way from Mindanao to quit. Seeing that I’m determined, Joeren asked me to turn around and start paddling for my first wave. It was big and scary but I was committed. I paddled and stood once I felt the push. My ride was a little shaky at first, but I had to make sure I won’t fall. We were allowed ten quality rides. Carla Rowland told us that ten 2’s are better than two 10’s.

(c) Janine Agbon
(c) Janine Agbon
Second ride. (c) Janine Agbon
Second ride. (c) Janine Agbon

By the time I made it back to where Joeren was, he asked me to turn around again and paddle for my second wave. My arms were tired but I paddled anyway. Second ride done. I tried to get three more rides, but I kept slipping. Next thing I knew, we were down to the last two minutes. We gave each other high fives and paddled back to the shore. Joeren kept saying “I told you, you can do it!”. I just smiled. I was too tired. At this point, I wasn’t sure if my rides were good enough. I just wanted to rest.

Moral support from this kickass surfer! (c) Janine Agbon
Moral support from this kickass surfer! (c) Janine Agbon

Before heading out for lunch, my cousin and I approached Carla Rowland and asked for the results of my heat. I was so stoked when I found out that I landed first place and that I’ll be advancing to the second round! I was grinning from ear to ear. I didn’t expect it at all! When I told Joeren about it, he was stoked as well. We were told that the continuation for the Malihini Longboard Division will be moved to the next day because of the wave conditions so we decided to grab lunch and rest for a while.

Day one ended with lights, music, and booze as all surfers made their way to Aliya Surf Camp to party and for the awarding ceremony. Daisy Valdez was able to defend her title as the Open Shortboard Champion and Candra Jordan who came all the way from California won the Open Longboard Division.

(c) Ivan Montalban
(c) Ivan Montalban
Divine Smith, our DJ for the night! :) (c) Ivan Montalban
Divine Smith, our DJ for the night! 🙂 (c) Ivan Montalban

Competition Day 2:

Two knocks on the door- that’s what woke me up. My cousin opened it and Brian, our friend, was there. “Time to go to church”, he said. We dressed up, checked the wave conditions and the competition schedule, then made our way to church. After church, we wolfed down our breakfast then made our way to Aliya Surf Camp for day two of the competition.

So stoked to see this! :) (c) Ivan Montalban
So stoked to see this! 🙂 (c) Ivan Montalban

I was in Heat 5, round 2. This gave me enough time to observe other surfers. My cousin was out first who won her heat and advanced to the quarter finals. For round 2, I was on my own because Joeren had to teach. He told me “I know you can do it, and you don’t need me there”. Shudder.

(c) Ivan Montalban
(c) Ivan Montalban

There are moments in life when you only have yourself. I have to admit, day one was easy because I knew that Joeren was there and as long as he’s around I’ll be fine. For day two, I had to toughen up. While paddling out, I kept reminding myself that everything will be okay. First ride, fail. Second, manageable. Third, okay. Fourth, wipe out. Paddle out, try again. It was almost impossible to reach the line up and it was hard to paddle against the current. We were all struggling but we still gave our best.

(c) Ivan Montalban
(c) Ivan Montalban

I didn’t make it to the quarterfinals, and that’s okay. I told myself that I’ll just have fun and accept whatever the competition results will be. For me, it’s enough that I finally had the chance to surf again after being landlocked for a long time. My cousin finished fourth, and I’m very happy for her. She’s improved so much from last year and she’s proof that hard work really pays off.

(c) Ivan Montalban
(c) Ivan Montalban

I ended the trip by burying my toes in the sand again. I stared at the ocean, as if trying to take a mental picture of the waves that were rolling in front of me. Fall, I did. Hard. But fly, I did, as well. I was asked why I decided to compete despite being landlocked for six months and my answer is, well you have to start somewhere. Yes, I haven’t surfed for six months and my skills suffered, but I’d like to think that whatever’s meant to happen is really the only thing that could. Sometimes you just need to take a leap of faith and surprise yourself. It’s like falling in love- there’s no specific schedule. It just happens to you. I now experienced what a real competition is like, so I know what to expect next time, if I decide to compete again. Surfing is as fluid as it can get. All you have is yourself, the board, the waves, and that 10 seconds worth of commitment to paddle, stand, feel the drop, and ride. This experience taught me to trust in myself more, and to not be afraid of falling. Sure a wipeout will shove buckets of saltwater down your throat, but what do you do after that? You get back on the board, and you paddle out again. I also learned to open myself up to possibilities, and to more good things. 🙂

It’s been three weeks since the competition and I’m still on a high. . I went home with a huge bruise on my right arm because it was hit by a fin, but it’s all worth it. I learned so much from this experience and I met a lot of people. I’m just glad I took the risk.

I’m very thankful for my mom, gave me permission to take time off work to compete, and for sending me messages of support all throughout the competition. My uncle, who lent us his car  so we don’t have to commute and to Manong Dario of course who drove for us despite lack of sleep. To  J9 who encouraged me to join the competition and made sure that I enjoy my first Baler experience. Fin, for cheering me on when I told her that I was thinking of backing out. Brian, my Monopoly Deal partner for the water (yay!) and for the support, of course. Esh, my roomie, it was so nice to see you again! Ivan, for helping us carry our stuff and for taking our pictures. Sagasa Surfkada, it was very nice to meet all of you. Siargao crew, it was great to see you again! Mico, thank you so much for lending me your board and for telling me to imagine Siargao when you noticed that I was scared. Joeren, my masungit-na-mabait caddy for helping me brave those big waves. Of course, to Carla Rowland and Ian Zamora whose passion for surfing and love for the Philippines made this event possible.

Fellow wahines who competed, kudos to all of us!

Saltwater Musings : Siargao

When you’re a wahine stuck in the city and programmed into a daily routine, you begin to crave for the ocean. Once you notice with every glimpse in the mirror that your tan lines betrayed you and decided to disappear, you begin to crave for the ocean even more. With each passing day, the craving intensifies and the only way to satisfy them is by watching your surf videos that your lovely friends captured from eons ago. You know that things have gone bad when day in and day out, all you can think of are long rides, sunsets, stoke, surf, sand, and sea. This is when you become thankful for friends who invite you to Siargao for a surf/soul searching trip (thanks, Liz).

Siargao is probably the best surf spot I’ve been in. I’ve heard about it from surfer friends and I can remember painting mental images of the place based on how they described it. I used to be scared of surfing in Siargao because of the reefs and what they call “professional waves”.  I am far from being a professional surfer. The biggest wave I’d dare ride is only six feet high and that’s after convincing myself that the worst thing that can happen to me is a wipe out. Siargao always gave me a combination of fear and excitement that whenever I thought visiting it before, I’d chicken out. I guess it’s true that there’s beauty in timing. I think if I went there before, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I did.

It’s only been a week since that epic Siargao trip and all I can say is I never left. Yes, I’m physically back in the city but everything else is still there, riding those waves, enjoying the good vibes, and staying stoked. That place gave me so much and I’ve only been there for six days. I got to be in my element again, and it was humbling to know that six months without surfing brings you back to square one… at least for the first two hours of your mini reunion with the board and the ocean. It was frustrating that I couldn’t catch a wave, that I kept falling, and that I was being robbed of patches of my skin because of the reef underneath. However, it was also very fulfilling when after approximately two hours of not giving up, I finally got that long ride that was enough to keep me stoked until the next day. The next two surf days were about learning how to do the frontside and the backside which were both challenging at first.

backside

superbend

We also chanced upon fellow surfers (Xave, Pia, and Mico) who were also there for vacation. We went island hopping to see more of Siargao on our second day and it really is beautiful. It’s sad to see that there are buildings being constructed after almost every kilometer. There are hotels, condominiums and resorts, claiming the place as theirs when it really isn’t. Everyone wants to own a piece of the land. Everyone wants to own a piece of paradise and its alarming. The locals say that Siargao has changed so much since it became popular. Its spot on the list of the popular surf destinations worldwide has its good and bad side and everyone’s just dealing with it. My only prayer is that they get to preserve its beauty.

lizxave

 

The ocean lent its ears to oohs and ahhs as our boat docked from one island to another. The waters were clear as crystal, it was fun to dive and be all mermaid-y without having to worry about landing on someone’s trash. The corals had were painted with a beautiful symphony of colors, it was hard to focus on just one. There were fishes of different shapes and sizes that swam in distances both far and near- depending on who was brave enough to touch the human skin. The salty Siargao breeze was filled with our laughters, jokes, and tricks with the GoPro. There were moments when we would randomly burst into song or dance once a good song plays in Spotify. Our day would end with the obligatory Monopoly deal where everyone’s competitive side showed.

(c) Mico Cervantes
(c) Mico Cervantes
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(c) Mico Cervantes
(c) Mico Cervantes
(c) Mico Cervantes

Liz and I did a lot of walking during our stay and this allowed us to explore the resorts in the area. Of all the resorts we’ve been to, Hotstpot stood out because they were very accommodating, the interiors were nice, and it had the ambiance that we wanted. Before surfing, Liz and I went there to hang out, order some drinks, and watch surf movies. Hotspot also offers board and GoPro rentals for Php 500/day which is really cheap! Their sexy chicken is a dish worth trying after an epic session. I give it two thumbs up!

The last day. :( (c) Hotspot
The last day. 😦 (c) Hotspot
(c) Hotspot
(c) Hotspot

Notes:

1) Respect the locals.

2) There is no ATM, so make sure that you have enough money. Meals cost around Php 80 – Php 130 but they have big servings, so it’s like having two meals in one.

3) You have to bring small bills since they almost always don’t have change.

4) The airport transfer will cost you around Php 300.

5) Go out and explore the island. There’s so much to see!

6) Think twice before accepting beer or any alcoholic beverage from people.

7) There’s a yoga session at the tower every 9:30 in the morning.

8) Be sure that your USB has enough disk space (17 gigs) so you can copy your videos from Hotspot’s GoPro.

9) Brace yourself for lots and lots of walking.

10) Enjoy each surf session and if you can, wait until the sun sets on the horizon.

Siargao is a paradise. It’s a great place to get lost in. You bask in its wonder and thank God that there’s a place like it in a country that’s fascinated by constructing giants in the concrete jungle. It’s a place that welcomes you with a warm embrace and gives you a heartache once the day of your departure draws near. You meet people from all over the world, speaking different languages, molded by different cultures, united by one thing : surfing. Okay, some just lay down and pray to the heavens that they get tans instead of freckles but you know what I mean. Siargao heals you in ways you can never imagine. It gives you picturesque sunsets that make you close your eyes and thank God that you witnessed that. It gives you ride-worthy waves that bring you from the line up to the board walk. It gives you locals who are nice enough to lend you a helping hand when they sense that you’re having trouble. It blesses you with the opportunity to know more about your teammate/travel buddy/friend who’s just as game as you are to explore the island and brave walking down dark streets since there are no street lights as of writing. Most of all, it gives you a chance to breathe, to take a break from the city’s fast-paced lifestyle. Siargao is a beauty, and I will forever be thankful that I ended my 6-month streak of no surfing in that island.

I leave you with this video that my friend Xavier D’Souza made. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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! 🙂

Balance

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Top, Jockey | Skirt/pants, Thailand | (c) Aliya Agbon

Last year, I took on a very important role. To those who don’t know, my family runs  Eco Choices – a social enterprise based in Cotabato City. Eco Choices aims to promote healthy living (we sell organic products like brown rice and herbal tea) and create opportunities for the communities living beside the river by making handmade products made from water hyacinth. It all sounds easy, but it’s not. Especially when you’re a librarian/freelance photographer who ditched jobs that had anything to do with business. When I assumed the managerial position, I literally didn’t know what to do. My goals were clear. I just didn’t know what steps to take, who to talk to, etc.

Now the question is, do you stop just because you’re clueless? Or, do you turn things around by accepting the fact that you don’t know anything and then do something about the situation? It was very humbling for me to go back to reading books and looking up articles on the internet that showed tips on how to run a social enterprise. I didn’t even know what “social enterprise” meant. I attended seminars, asked questions, and consulted mentors because I really wanted things to work. Fast forward to seven months later, I can honestly say that  I am seeing improvements. It was quite a ride and we still have a long way to go. We’ve only just begun after all.

My days are spent making products, coming up with new design concepts for Eco Choices, running Eco Choices, social media marketing, and handling finance. Some days I cross over to being the founder of Kids for Peace Foundation and attend meetings that are related to our projects. Some days, I’m just by myself, playing the guitar and singing like there’s no tomorrow. I do admit that there are days when I feel like I’m going insane and I think that’s a good thing. That right there is signal that I need to rest.

I’ve been asked about my theme for this year and all I can say is “balance”. I’m trying to create a balance between my personal life and my professional life. There’s a hairline that separates the two and that’s perfectly normal but I still want to give equal attention to both.

You’re probably asking, “okay what about surfing?” and I’ll ask you the same thing. The last time my skin tasted salt water was in October and if you compare that to 2012-2013’s surf statistics, that’s pretty sad. I was surfing almost every weekend last year. I was at my darkest, too. Is it difficult not being able to surf when I want to? Yes. See, Mindanao is a lot different from Luzon in the sense that I can’t just board a bus at 12 MN and expect to arrive safely the next day. Surf spots take at least 8 hours from where I live too, so I can’t just go on a weekend trip because when the waves are pumping, there’s no way that I’ll be okay with just surfing for two days. When I miss the feeling, I skate. I’ve kissed the concrete pavement for a couple of times now, I’m just lucky I haven’t landed on dog poop yet. When I feel like I’m going crazy because I can no longer deal with being away from the ocean, I make arrangements with my mom. I try to make things work as much as possible.

So… there. Here’s to creating a balance between work, family, and self.

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. 🙂

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. ❤

12 Months of Stoke

It’s been 12 months since the road trip that changed my life. What I thought was just a surf adventure with my flag football team turned out to be the first chapter of my surf story. I’m a lot darker now, my hair is no longer pure black, and I’m currently sporting a medium-sized bruise on my right cheek as I type this but I’m proud to say I have no regrets. I learned a lot about myself because of surfing and I can no longer imagine living without it.

Since that roadtrip, I found myself boarding a bus almost every week to Zambales. I didn’t mind that I had to sit for hours and I didn’t care that I was getting darker each week. Every trip to Zambales gave me the feeling that I’m on my way home. I fell in love with the place, the sport and the people that’s why it was very difficult for me when I had to disappear for six months due to certain circumstances.

My heart longed for Zambales that’s why I made sure that I’ll pay the place a visit one more time before I go back to Mindanao. I wanted to celebrate my 12 months of surfing + my 26th year in the place where it all began. I also wanted to surf again.

Home sweet home!
Home sweet home!
With my fave board. :3
With my favorite board :3

I joined my friend Vince who left for Zambales last Friday at 3 in the morning. I was very excited to go back I didn’t sleep at all! We stopped by Jaro’s house in San Marcelino. We also had breakfast there. When we were approaching Liwliwa, I was grinning from ear to ear.  I missed how the concrete road ends all of a sudden, making the car dance as it makes its way through the sand. When we arrived, I ran to our cottage to see how it is. After putting my things down, I went to the beach with Jing and Panke ride the pretty neat swells that were waiting to be ridden.  We surfed from 8 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon. We were so stoked!

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Where the wave kisses the shore no matter how many times it’s pushed back… featuring Pangke’s surfboard.
The closest I can get to cross stepping.
Baby steps.
I missed this kind of tired.
I missed this kind of tired.

My day trip turned into a 5-day vacation when I had to cancel my trip back to Manila because of typhoon. I planned on leaving at 3 am the next day, but I had to forget about leaving when I woke up to the sound of strong winds, trees being snapped in half, and waves that sounded like the Mavericks. I slept dry but woke up wet because water entered our cottage. There was also a power outage so we had to work with light from our cellphones and my trusty mini flashlight. After changing sleeping positions for the third time, we finally fell asleep despite the chaos that was happening outside. When we woke up the next morning, this is what we saw:

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Photo by Vince Dayrit

The rain didn’t stop, and the water level rose to around 12 inches from my waist. Since there wasn’t much for us to do that day, all of us stayed in the cottage and waited for the rain to stop.

There wasn’t a lot of improvement in the weather conditions the next day but since we wanted to surf, we made our way to Pundaquit. It was my first time and I was excited to finally experience two surf spots: Magic Left and River Mouth. When we arrived, I decided to surf at Magic Left since the waves in River Mouth were too big. I spent the morning paddling, riding, rolling with every wipeout and eventually hitting myself with a fun board (but still feeling the stoke). In the afternoon, I decided to stay at the shore and take pictures of my friends since I’ve been fighting the urge to shoot since morning.

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Ping Danila
Vince Dayrit
Vince Dayrit
Pangke Tapec
Pangke Tapec
DK Pasallan
DK Pasallan
Caloy Reyes
Caloy Reyes
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Mike Bonifacio
Carlo Guillermo
Carlo Guillermo
Kiko Lacuesta
Kiko Lacuesta
The stoked shutterbug.
The stoked shutterbug. (c) Ping Danila
With the gang. ^_^ (L-R Shine, Aliya, Pangke, Brian, Vince, DK)
With the gang. ^_^ (L-R Shine, Aliya, Pangke, Brian, Vince, DK)

Since all of us were stoked after the surf session, we went back to Pundaquit the next day. This time, I gave my camera to Kuya Ping, who then gave it to Gab Sarmiento, the editor-in-chief of Blunt Magazine. It was a good rainy surf session.

Out of the water, I am nothing. (c) Ping Danila
Out of the water, I am nothing. (c) Ping Danila
DK Pasallan | (c) Gab Sarmiento
DK Pasallan | (c) Ping Danila
Love. <3 (c) Ping Danila
Love.
Shine Pasallan
Shine Pasallan
Caloy Reyes | (c) Ping Danila
Caloy Reyes | (c) Ping Danila
Vince Dayrit (c) Gab Sarmiento
Vince Dayrit (c) Ping Danila
Kiko Lacuesta
Kiko Lacuesta (c) Gab Sarmiento

I went back to Manila with a happy heart. I was reminded of why I fell in love in the first place, and why I had the patience to sit in the bus for hours and the strength to get back on the board and paddle out with each wipe out. I realized that although some of my Liwa memories have been tainted because of some situations that made me run to the shore and cry my heart out, there’s still a lot of good things that Liwa has to offer, like… sleeping in a hammock during an impromptu slumber party because of the power outage, buying strawberry ice cream and Mog-Mogu at Seevuhn Ehleevuhn, going to the market and cooking meals with the gang, listening to the “telenovela” courtesy of the friendly neighborhood skatekids featuring TK, endless laughtrip sessions, late night and early morning discussions, random trips to Pundaquit, and a whole lot more.

This was my home for 5 days. I miss this place already.
This was my home for 5 days. I miss this place already.
Kuya Ping preparing breakfast for the gang.
Kuya Ping preparing breakfast for the gang.
Slumber party! :)
Slumber party! 🙂

My day trip may have been extended because of typhoon but if that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t have had the chance to really meet the people I met. Most of them, I knew since last year but didn’t really get the chance to bond with because we had our own groups. I guess it’s true what they say, you can only connect the dots backwards. If things didn’t go the way they did, I wouldn’t have had this much appreciation for what happened during that 5-day trip. This trip made me realize that I do have friends. Well… family disguised as friends.

I’m writing this with a heart that’s grateful and happy. I’m still stoked from everything that happened during the trip. My mind’s currently operating as a mini movie theater, and I keep pressing the replay button to relive everything that happened.

I’m so excited to come back for my next Liwa adventure. Liwa friends, thank you. I owe 5 days’ worth of epic Liwa memories to all of you. 🙂