April 2014 Surfista Trip to Baler Video Highlights

Check out this video of Surfista Jonathan Lanuzga of our trip to BALER last month! It’s always awesome to see our Surfistas happy!

He documented the whole trip – from our van ride, to his surf lessons, while staying at the Aliya Surf Resort, on our hike to the waterfalls and to the biggest Balete tree in Asia, and hanging out with his new Surfista friends. Check it out!

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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

JOIN US ON OUR FUTURE SURFISTA TRIPS! Check out our TOURS & PACKAGES.
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THE SIARGAO EXPERIENCE, SURFISTA TRAVELS STYLE!

By JJ Ferrer

The day before my flight to Siargao, I spent an entire afternoon at work deciding how I would write my out-of-office email message. I considerately decided that Thank you for your email, I will be out of office to go surfing on a beautiful island for six glorious days and do awesome things that awesome people do on an awesome vacation with my fellow Surfistas would be a ruthless thing to send to anyone who would read it while they’re at work. I leaned towards simplicity and just wrote that I’ll be out of office and will respond to their mail when I get back.

Dreaming of Siargao even before getting there!

By midnight, sheer excitement has prompted me that I will not get any sleep. I’ve already checked my bags twice. I’ve went over my Surfista goodies and tried to fit all the shirts, accessories and baller bands to pass time. Hmmm… maybe I’ll just drink one of those hot chocolate freebies while I do swimsuit inventory.

SURF, SURF, SURF.

Our Surfista group for August 2013 and our local instructors – who are also the best surfers in the country!

The major element of the Surfista Siargao trip would definitely be the everyday surf. That’s good vibes on a daily basis! And if that’s not cool enough, we got partnered with super-skilled instructors who were as pleasant to surf with as they are to watch while they do surf tricks. (Note to self:  Learn the specific names of those surf tricks so I wouldn’t be mentioning “tricks” repeatedly!) They were also such warm and fun people who were so helpful in sharing their expertise. It feels so unreal to have surfed at Siargao with those legends.

with my instructor Eloy – big wave surfer, boat man, kinilaw chef, super awesome surf instructor and all around nice guy!

We’ve also explored other nearby surf spots and it was a quite an excitement. But I’d say it was pretty intimidating, too. For someone who just started surfing early this year, I’ve never really had that much experience on varying waves. Add to that the fact that I’ve never surfed on a reef break before. (Thank goodness for reef shoes!)  There were spots where the waves are bigger than what I am used to. Frankly, I think I grew solid guts because of this entire surf experience.

Surfing in paradise!!!!!

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ROCK POOLS, CARABAO RIDES, ISLAND HOPPING.

Siargao is well-known for surfing but there are other cool things to do there. One of our sunny mornings was spent jumping off rocks and dipping in the clear waters at Magpupungko Rock Pools. That one’s rather memorable because I somehow confounded my height fright that day. Awesome feeling.

Siargao is beautiful and there are so many places to visit!

Heading to the Magpupungko rock pools with fellow Surfistas

Jumping into the rock pool!! We all did it and dedicated to something we all needed to let go of! ;)

We also had a free day so we decided to use up a couple of hours to go carabao-riding. Chelle, one of the Surfistas, and I decided to add a dash of fun by wearing our dresses to this happy occasion. If you’re gonna do it, do it with flair, right? I consider this one of the many amusing highlights of the trip.

Carabao riding in style!

Kevin riding the carabao like a boss!

And how could I forget the trip to three islands in one day? We started the island hopping in the morning and as we walk through the woodlands to get to the dock where our boat was waiting for us, one of our local guides casually instructed us to watch out for snakes. Uhm, what?!? Did she say snakes? I thought that was a fairly good reason to faint out of terror but then I also thought it would be a good story to tell if we did encounter snakes. We didn’t. But there’s still the interesting story about the three islands we went to, the hearty lunch we enjoyed together, the glorious nap underneath a tree, the ukulele jam session, the good swim we had, and the golden tan that I’m too happy to have gotten so I cannot stop boasting about it up until the present time. (Sorry, jealous friends. #sorrynotsorry)

Freshly grilled seafood, mangoes and banana, rice for our simple island hopping lunch – it was SO GOOD.

More tropical fruits for dessert – watermelon for a hot hot day.

Chill lunch!

Of course we had to have that jump shot in Guyam Island.

JUNGLE JUICE, STARGAZING, GAME NIGHTS.

I’m just so glad to have met people who were as ready as I was for whatever the island had to give. The very first night at the place, we heard about Jungle Disco (aka Jangol Deesco). It wasn’t part of the trip’s itinerary but we were so game for the island life and we were ready to roll! So what if we haven’t slept the night before? We excitedly waited for midnight and went to the disco! I actually pictured it to be in the middle of the jungle because it was called Jungle Disco, right? But no, it’s not literally on a jungle, but yes, there was dancing. And the finest part — Jungle Juice — the yummy drink that established the birth of our group’s name the Nutty Jangol Juice Surfistas.

My awesome group the Nutty Jangol Surfistas (missing Niko in the photo!)

 Some nights we spent looking up at the sky and watching countless stars. It was beautiful and that’s definitely something you can’t do in the city. On starless nights because of rain, our group always found a way to do something fun and hilarious.  We had game nights and some nights were just spent talking — one minute were talking about our odd future plans (keyword: mermaid), next minute we were discussing books and another minute were singing Saging lang ang may Puso remix version. We were nuts!

HI, BYE, HI AGAIN.

 The skies were dark on the day we were leaving. All of us Surfistas were just silently sitting on Siargao Airport’s waiting area, bracing ourselves for our normal city lives. We were waiting for quite a while when someone announced that our flights got cancelled because of the weather. We all looked at each other, wordless, emotionless. (Another version of this story is that there was a resounding YAY heard in the entire airport but this has yet to be confirmed).  There was so much work to do in the city but who are we to fight the forces of nature, right?? ;) Maybe the island wasn’t ready to see us leave.

One of our extra days was spent going to Sohoton to check out the caves and lagoons. It took hours to get there but the view, the encounter with stingless jellyfish, the caving experience and the chance to jump off a cliff again were definitely worth the time. The rest of the days were dedicated to added crazy talks, even more food and of course, more surf time.

with Gianni of Kermit Surf & Dive EcoCamp and Elaine Abonal of Surfista Travels

On the whole, I can absolutely say that the SURFISTA SIARGAO trip I signed up for falls under the Awesome Surf Trip category. Every aspect of the surf experience was terrific, the other activities were fun, the people I’ve met were amazing, the resort (Kermit Surf & Dive Resort, check them out!) and the folks there were so cool and Elaine did a lot of awesome work to make sure that our trip goes smoothly. I would definitely do it again. Definitely.

I would totally go back. I’ll never forget this Surfista in Siargao experience!!

JOIN US ON OUR FUTURE SURFISTA TRIPS! Check out our TOURS & PACKAGES.

http://www.surfistatravels.com 

 surfistatravels@yahoo.com

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twitter: @SurfistaTravels     instagram: @SurfistaTravels

SURFISTA ETIQUETTE – Be a Responsible Surfista!

 

There are rules and etiquette for everything – including SURFING. Surfing is a fun sport, but also an extreme one and can be quite dangerous. You have to remember as Surfistas that you are not always alone out there in the water (unless you’re super lucky!) Surfing is getting more popular in the Philippines and around the world and it’s best that we know what we are doing out there. Accidents and mishaps can be avoided by just knowing AND following a few simple rules.

We’ve taken these images from the internet and take no credit for them whatsoever. We think they’re posted out there to be shared. So feel free to share any of these photos or this post. Who knows? You could be saving someone else’s – even yours.

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Surf etiquette

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Please be responsible SURFISTAS out there and make us proud to call you one! Feel free to SHARE this!

JOIN US ON OUR FUTURE SURFISTA TRIPS! Check out our TOURS & PACKAGES.

http://www.surfistatravels.com 

 surfistatravels@yahoo.com

http://www.facebook.com/SurfistaTravels

twitter: @SurfistaTravels     instagram: @SurfistaTravels

 

A Peek at Siargao

by Yvette Ferrari
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You’re an ocean dweller at heart and living in the concrete jungle has you coming down with a serious case of the blues. You could really use some beach time and good waves to wash the stress away. You know what that means. It’s time to start planning your next get away and Surfista Travels Philippines can help you get there.

Whether you’re a resident of Southeast Asia or a European looking for relaxation and an escape, Cloud 9 in Siargao, Philippines should jump to the top of your list of surf destinations to check out in Asia. Located about 800 kilometers southeast of Manila, Siargao Island is a part of Surigao del Norte known for its white sand beaches, untouched natural havens, and laid back culture.

If you have never traveled in the Philippines, it can be difficult to figure out where to stay and how to get there. Surfista Travels takes away the hassle of planning offering convenient packages including accommodation, transportation, surf lessons, board rentals, and not to mention a unique experience in a one of a kind place.

Many loyal surfers have already heard of Cloud 9. Popularized in the early 90s by American photographer John Callahan, Cloud 9 is regarded as “the surfing capital of the Philippines” and is renowned internationally for its thick hallow tubes and right breaking reef waves. Travelers marvel at the warm waters and serene environment of Cloud 9 while practicing their surf skills in a current that is not too intense for beginners.
Working with the best surf schools in Siargao, Surfista Travels ensures safety in the water and above all a good time. Other popular breaks on the island that cater to both left and right‐handed surfers at a more intermediate level include Tuesday Rock, Ventura, Pilar Point, and Tuason Point.

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Surf and beautiful beaches aside, there are many other reasons to visit Siargao. Among those reasons is the Caob lagoon. Just a 40‐minute boat ride through one of the largest and most well preserved wetland of mangroves in Mindanao Philippines lays Caob lagoon whose natural beauty is only rivaled by its enchanting mystical qualities. Island hopping, parasailing, kite surfing, kayaking and big game fishing are among other popular activities in Siargao. Take an evening out with new friends you will surely meet in your Surfista Travels group and head to any number of bars concentrated along General Luna near Cloud 9. Friendly locals mingle with tourists where the nightlife scene can vary anywhere from a chill café to dancing the night away at Melvinbo Disco.

If surfing is up your alley and you’re ready to experience Philippines in a different way, then get to Siargao ASAP. But don’t take my word for it because words don’t do justice to the paradise that is Siargao. You have to see for yourself.
For more information about Surfista Travels Philippines and testimonials please visit www.surfistatravels.com and contact Elaine Abonal to reserve your spot on the next Surfista Travels trip. For more information on Siargao, Philippines visit www.tourism‐philippines.com/siargao‐island

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