Surfista Highlights at the Philippine Wahine Classic 2013

Surfista Travels Philippines was a proud sponsor and supporter of the 1st ever Philippine Wahine Classic organized by Carla Rowland of the Surf Institute. Surfista’s Elaine Abonal was also the voice behind the microphone and the commentator of the event.

Check out the photo highlights from an amazing part of Philippine surfing history!


Elaine Abonal of Surfista Travels was the commentator during the vent. It’s not as easy as it looks!


Awarding with Gerard Sison of SurfPh, Carla Rowland of the Surf Institute, Elaine Abonal of Surfista Travels and Joncy Sumulong of Stoked
Photo by Ian Zamora

Daisy Valdez of La Union won BOTH open wahine longboard and shortboard divisions during the contest!
Awarding with Gerard Sison of SurfPh, Carla Rowland of the Surf Institute, Elaine Abonal of Surfista Travels and Joncy Sumulong of Stoked
Photo by Ian Zamora


The wahines / surf girls of the 1st Philippine Wahine Classic!
Awarding with Gerard Sison of SurfPh, Carla Rowland of the Surf Institute, Elaine Abonal of Surfista Travels and Joncy Sumulong of Stoked
Photo by Ian Zamora

The wahines with Aliya Surf Camp’s owner Roy Angara

Surfista Travels Philippines supports awesome events like these!

On the microphone: Carla Rowland and Elaine Abonal

Awesome Surfistas helping out Elaine Abonal while on the microphone! Thanks Nina Lacson, Ghoul Crisologo & Rusty Jorbina!


Beautiful weather for the weekend. We were very lucky!

Waves were pretty big for some of the malihinis but everyone did such a great job surfing!

Surfista friend and contest finalist Jam Choa with her Surfista bling!


Surfboards taking a break at the Aliya Surf Camp

Fearless females working hard to make a difference in the Philippine surfing community! Thank you Carla Rowland for having Surfista Travels as part of your event. You did a great job!



twitter: @SurfistaTravels     instagram: @SurfistaTravels

Surfista Siargao by Nette Guevarra

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.

All these Surfistas actually travelled solo and went home with a set of new friends!

Our first day and first meal at the Sagana Resort in Siargao: Nette, Frances, Jannelle, Camille and Jovanne

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.

Siargao is a surfer’s paradise!

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!

So glad to have stumbled upon Surfista Travels Philippines on Facebook!

Soooo much freebies from Surfista sponsors!! Every peso spent on this trip was worth it!

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!

Carpe diem! THIS is what my decision has brought me to: paradise, beautiful waters and beautiful people.

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!

Nette and her instructor and also champ Filipino surfer – Carlito Nogalo

Each Surfista instructor was handpicked because Surfista Travels only works with the BEST! All these Siargao surfers are amazing – both in and out of the water.

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. 

Finally surfing!!!!!!!!!

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.  

Photo shoots, island hopping, new friends, good vibes, eating freshly grilled seafood – other highlights of the surf and island life.

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.

Playing volleyball and soccer when not surfing – how beautiful is our playground?

IMG_0040 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.

At night, we tried different restaurants around the island. Here we were having the best pizza  in the island – probably in the Philippines – haha at the Kalinaw Resort.

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.  

The trip and surfing left such an impression that a tattoo had to be made!!

Enjoying local life by having 40 peso burgers by the boulevard – they were pretty good too! :)

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 ;)

All smiles at the Kermit Surf and Dive Resort with owner Gianni – where we stayed

with Surfista Travels’ Elaine Abonal, my certificate and PROOF that I surfed, and Gianni of Kermit Surf and Dive Resort in Siargao

twitter: @SurfistaTravels     instagram: @SurfistaTravels

Private Surfista Tour: ADB Surfistas to La Union, September 2013

ADB or the Asian Development Bank (Asian equivalent of the World Bank) asked Surfista Travels – Philippines to introduce surfing to their local & expat staff – people who travel to dangerous & exotic countries we didn’t even know existed – & share with them a different lifestyle in the Philippines. We could not have been more HONORED to be chosen & trusted by such a prestigious company!!! It was a beautiful sunny weekend in La Union with waves that were the perfect size for beginners. We worked with San Juan Surf School and Shop and stayed at the San Juan Surfresort. It was a weekend mixed with activities and relaxation for our ADB Surfistas. CONGRATULATIONS for all of you for standing up and for finally trying surfing in the Philippines! We hope to surf and travel with you again soon! :)

THANKS to all our sponsors who were part of the Surfista Travels experience!

Check out these photo highlights from our weekend!

Surfing lessons and basics with San Juan Surf School’s Luke Landrigan

A little bit more practice on the shore with Shanny and Roger, her surf instructor

Shanny from New Zealand makes it look so easy!! Woooooo!!

Karen from Canada is all smiles for the camera! :)

Nejib from the USA finally gets his balance, good job dude!

We charge extra whenever Surfistas want a photo with Luke Landrigan. Just kidding!! ;)

These cute Surfistas chicks with Elaine Abonal and Luke Landrigan

All smiles after their first surfing lesson in La Union.

What is a group photo if we didn’t have a jump shot? ;)

CONGRATULATIONS to you Surfistas for doing so well!

Emma from England gets her Surfista certificate sponsored by Hurley and Grind

Congrats Nejib!!

Spreading the Surfista love WORLDWIDE! Thank you and we hope to surf and travel with you again SOON!! :)

twitter: @SurfistaTravels     instagram: @SurfistaTravels

The 1st Weekend Retreat w/ Surfista Travels & The Surf Institute

Last April 13 – 14, 2013, Surfista Travels Philippines teamed up with Carla Rowland* of The Surf Institute to have the first ever Weekend Retreat for INTERMEDIATE surfers in San Juan, La Union. The retreat was targeted for intermediate surfers who can already paddle into their own wave and have had more than the basic surf lessons. There were only 6 students, which is just the right number, because we wanted to have each Surfista be given enough attention and guidance while in the water. We were being filmed the whole time by Ian Zamora and we watched and discussed our individual videos to see what we did right as well as what each surfer needed to do in order to improve our surfing. We learned a LOT and were really impressed by the instruction of Carla Rowland. Not only did she teach us how to improve our stance or pop ups, but she has also given us the encouragement and inspiration that many of us surfers don’t realize we have been lacking. It was an awesome experience and we highly recommend it to future intermediate Surfistas. There WILL be more in different locations so please keep updated to see where we’re going next!

(*Carla Rowland is a native Southern Californian and been a local at the infamous First Point Malibu since infancy. With over 20 years of surfing experience, over 10 years of instructing others; along with her extensive background within special education and substitute teaching, as well as a degree in Communication, Carla has developed a detailed method that is guaranteed to advance wave riders to the next level. She has come to the Philippines with the intention of sharing this knowledge with Pinoy sliders, allowing them to take their surfing journey into places they never imagined!)

In the meantime, enjoy these photos to get a preview of how our weekend went. To see more photos, you may go to our Facebook page or click HERE.


New posters from our sponsors at Hurley

We were so excited to have the beautiful Sabs Bengzon as one of our intermediate Surfistas!

The class of 6 with our Hurley – Surfista rashguards
(Elaine Abonal, Chelle Tingzon, Emily Barriga, Hanz Cubillan, Isabel Bengzon & Nicky Daez)

With Carla Rowland of The Surf Institute – before we went out in the water

A beautifl long ride by Sabs!!

Carla Rowland showing us how it’s done!

Emily and Elaine sharing the Surfista love on this wave – and having FUN while they’re at it!

All done with out morning surf sessons – who are having fun? :)

Individual video analysis – it makes a huge difference to SEE what we were doing!

The intermediate Surfistas

CONGRATULATIONS to these Surfistas for being the 1st group to go on a Surfista – TSI Weekend Retreat!

Elaine Abonal of Surfista Travels Philippines and Carla Rowland of The Surf Institute – joining forces to spread the surf love!

Happy Class Photo! Surfista Travels – TSI, April 2013


twitter: @SurfistaTravels     instagram: @SurfistaTravels

Private Surfista Tour: Graham Family from the Marshall Islands go to Baler

On the first week of April, we’ve had the pleasure of working with the Graham Family from the Marshall Islands to go on a Surfista trip and this time to BALER! The Grahams were with Surfista Elaine Abonal in La Union last February and this time, they wanted to explore more and see the NorthEastern part of the Philippines. Ronnie who is 6 years old did such a great job surfing and Lykie, his cousin, was so brave surfing. We worked with the Mahdox Surf School owned by Okoy Rojo and the boys each had their own surf instructor. We also went around touring Baler – to the biggest Balete tree in Asia as well as the Baler Museum. We were there on weekdays to beat the crowd and the conditions were perfect for surf lessons! Check out the photo highlights to see what we were up to!

For more photos from this trip, check out our Facebook page or click HERE.

Surf lessons behind this beautiful setting of mountain ranges!

Ronnie’s 2nd time surfing with Surfista Travels and this time with Mahdox Surf School!

Laiky from the Marshall Islands surfing in the Philippines for the first time!

Go Ronnie! Only 6 years old and already a surfer!!

The view going to Baler is beautiful! The Philippines is amazing!

Finally arrived in Baler after 6-7 hours on the road

Photo opportunity in front of one of the cool surf mosaics in the small town of Baler

We were lucky with the beautiful weather and waves

Visiting the largest Balete tree. Can you see our Surfista kids?

Surfista groms!!

A beautiful Baler sunset in the mountains.



twitter: @SurfistaTravels     instagram: @SurfistaTravels

%d bloggers like this: