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. 🙂