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.

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.

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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.

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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! 🙂

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. 🙂

Surfing: Behind the Scenes

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.

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Kneeling on my first ride.

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.

Stoked. Me with Kuya Pat!
Stoked. Me with Kuya Pat!

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.

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My first long ride!
My first long ride!
Skim sessions in between surf sessions
Skim sessions in between surf sessions
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From strangers to very good friends – here’s our first picture with the KBSPS surf instructors.

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.

Music appreciation sessions with my good friend Momma G. ;)
Music appreciation sessions with my good friend Momma G. 😉
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My first injury. Crashed into another surfer whose surfboard hit my shin. That’s Gan carrying me because I couldn’t walk.

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.

You learn to laugh after a wipe out.
You learn to laugh after a wipe out.
This "stance" is the reason why they call me Superbend.
This “stance” is the reason why they call me Superbend.
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After a wipe out, all you have to do is paddle out and try again.

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. 🙂

Mornings, the way they should be.
Mornings, the way they should be.
First solo ride!
First solo ride!
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Liwliwa sunset- always a sight to see.

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.

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Where there are no waves, you practice on an indo board.

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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.

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With Julianne at Crystal Beach. (c) Benjo Robles
With Kuya Ping and Phil, the surfer dog.
With Kuya Ping and Phil, the surfer dog.
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(c) Benjo Robles
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With my twin, Ian.
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I miss them. 😦 (c) Telay Robles
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Achievement unlocked!

My second family. :)
My second family. 🙂

Surfing has taught me a lot of things. It has taught me to rise with each fall; to go with (and not counter) the flow. It taught me that everything has a process; that things will eventually fall into place as long as you’re patient. It also taught me to believe in myself more.

Sunset surf sessions.
Sunset surf sessions.
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(c) Adele Katerina Raya

img_4117Surfing is the very reason why I don’t mind that I’m 10 shades darker, or that my hair color has changed due to too much sun exposure. It’s one of the reasons why I wake up early in the morning and sleep not-so-late at night. In the beach, on a surf board, is a place where I’m most happy. It thrills me, it keeps me alive, and it gives me an extraordinary kind of high. I’m proud of the scars and bruises I got because of it. I earned each and every single one of them. I know I still have a long way to go and I’m actually excited to see what the sea has in store for me.

Surfing, for me, is more than just riding a board. Surfers are not measured by the number of waves they ride. Instead, they are measured by how much fun they have out there. It’s not in the number of wipe-outs you get, but in the number of times you get back on the board after each wipe-out.

Surfing is waking up each morning and running to the ocean to see how the waves are. It is sitting in the bus for hours while doing everything that you can so that your EQ level stays up. It is going back to a place that’s both beautiful and painful while dealing with all the memories(both good and bad). It is waiting patiently for a wave, even if it means sitting under the sun for hours. It is meeting people from different walks of life who eventually become family disguised as friends. It is learning more about yourself. It is realizing that your biggest competition is yourself. It is putting your life in the hands of a 9″0. It is saving every single penny you have so you have enough money to surf on the weekend. It is caring for nature. It is falling in love with sport. It is learning to put more value in things that matter, and less in things that don’t. It is trusting that you can and will ride that big wave, no matter how many times the blithering idiot in the line up says that you can’t. It is paddling out after each wipe out. It is sharing the stoke. It’s a way of life. It is more than just a feeling, it’s a state of being.

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And when people ask me why I surf, my answer has always been simple: it heals me.