Over a year ago, I made a conscious decision to live by three things: 1. Get out of my comfort zone 2. Let go of things, situations and people I cannot control 3. Listen to my intuition and let it lead the way. It wasn’t easy at first. But once I learned to do these, my world totally changed.
Because of these three simple mantras, with the help of a positive attitude, the Universe hurled me into situations and people that made my heart sing. And SURFING is definitely one of them.
I have pretty much engaged in different sports and extra-curricular activities since childhood, but I must say, SURFING takes the cake! I have a tinge of regret I didn’t learn this sport sooner, but as they say, it is never too late. Traveling solo on a remote island for 6 days to try surfing (on the reef breaks at that) sounded like a bold and unconventional sabbatical to some people. But to me, it was the BEST thing I have ever done for myself this year! I have always wanted to surf, and I really think that the Universe was kind enough to make it happen. I stumbled upon the Surfista Travels Philippines page on Facebook, then saw cheap airline tickets to Manila & Siargao, and realized it was a public holiday/long weekend in Malaysia during that Surfista trip. Thank you, Universe!
I thought about it for a few days and I cringed at the thought of me falling off my board and hitting my face or head on the reefs, rocks or other people’s surf boards. But despite my daunting thoughts, I listened to my gut. You’ll never know until you try. So I went. Carpe Diem, baby!
It was my first time to visit Siargao Island and I totally fell in love with it! The clear blue sea, the inviting waves and Cloud 9 tower alone was just magnificent. I speak for all beach lovers out there when I say that there’s definitely something about the sea that calms people down, humbles them, heals them and puts things into perspective. To me it clearly explained why the Siargaonons exuded nothing but genuine warmth, kindness and compassion. Working and living in a busy raucous city in Malaysia, I greatly appreciated the simple island life and the kindness of its people. Our surf instructors were patient, happy-go-lucky and by far, the most humble mentors I have met. They were quiet and gentle with us, but these people are fearless in the water and even charge epic 10-foot barreling waves in international surf competitions! Amazing!
The six days spent surfing taught me a lot of things as compared to other sports I’ve engaged in. It taught me the value of patience and resilience. It constantly reminded me to go with the flow, to let go, to rise back up, and repeat. I was so tense in my first 2 tries to ride the waves with my 9-foot soft top longboard, struggling to stand up and all. “Keep in mind that it is okay to fall off your board. It’s okay. Just let yourself fall. What matters is that you quickly rise up on that board to strike that balance with the waves. It will be all over in a matter of seconds, so you have to be quick to rise and feel it. When you fall off, paddle back up here and then repeat.” Those few words from Carlito, my surf instructor, and for some reason it got to me because it not only referred to surfing, but those words reminded me so much about life.
True enough, the next few rides after that were absolute FUN. I couldn’t get enough of it! I found myself paddling around the impact zone, braving those sets of crashing waves one after the other, and paddling back to the lineup to catch more waves. The surf stoke is pretty much an amazing and overwhelming feeling, that I didn’t mind paddling back and forth, even if my arms felt like jello and even if I was so freakin’ tired from all that paddling (yeah, I’m outta shape haha). In our last 2 days, I was having so much fun that I lost track of time and didn’t notice I was surfing for 2 hours straight.
Surfing isn’t always competitive. It is also something that you do just for the fun of it; It is something that gets you on a natural high (a.k.a stoke) which only the ocean and the waves can give you. It is something you do on your own, and yet you feel so connected to everything and everyone. It is a sport which very much resonates Life’s metaphors.
Not only did I enjoy the surfing in my trip, but I loved the company. I had no idea that the rest of the group were solo travelers, like me! The Surfistas were a diverse group – everyone was open to anything and despite our varying backgrounds, professions, ages and races, we all found ourselves laughing and enjoying each others company.
Here’s what else I loved: those warm “Good Morning” greets, at ANY time of the day. Hopping to Dako, Guyam and Naked Islands. Crazy photo and video shoots everywhere we go. Volleyball and football games on the sand. Climbing limestone rocks. The medium-sized green snake we met along the way during our trek. Making that proverbial jump into Magpupungko’s tidal pools. Fun habal-habal rides to and fro Cloud 9. Elaine’s crazy pickup lines. Those long refreshing walks in Boardwalk before surfing. Red wine and five enormous pizzas, over good conversations and hearty laughter in Kalinaw. Yummy 15-peso bulillit burgers. Yummy pancit and veggie burgers in Sagana Resort with Sue. Early morning surf lessons with our surf heroes – Carlito, Piso, Chongky, Manette and Marama. Jangol juice and disco-dancing at Jangol Disco. Gianni’s sumptuous pasta and sun-dried tomatoes. Complimentary wine and Tanduay rhum shots in Kermit. Hearty post-surf breakfasts in Kermit. Eloy’s famous Kinilaw. Hammock snooze sessions. Relaxing body massages after surfing. Yoga classes with our Lagu blankets. Sentiments, chikas, laughter and random life stories shared on the island. Hermit crabs of different shapes and colours. Bahay kubos. Dream catchers. Siargaonons’ genuine kindness and compassion. Humble surf champs as our instructors. The simple laid-back island life. My first surf. My first time to jump off a huge limestone rock formation (wearing a bikini). My first tattoo.
So what happened when I followed my intuition? I got back home more suntanned, bruised all over, with jelly arms and an aching body from all the surfing and traveling. Despite those things though, I couldn’t care less. What mattered is I went back home rejuvenated with a surf stoke that would last me til my next surf, a smile plastered on my face and precious memories of surfing, Siargao and all those free-spirited new found friends I have met along the way. Frankly, I would not have done it any other way. And I will definitely go back for more