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Stoked in Siargao Island: A Beginner's Guide

Stoked in Siargao Island: A Beginner's Guide

Almost two months ago, I found myself in Siargao Island just 24 hours after my last day at my corporate job. Immediately after the farewell dinner, I headed for the bus terminal. This would be my first longest commute by bus this year. 

I feel somehow that everything has been a blur. Weirdly, I feel as if this isn’t even real. It was as if I’m dreaming but I’m not. I’m really here. When I open Facebook to post a photo, the location automatically says I’m in Siargao Island. This should be real enough, I guess.

Where do I even start? I’ve always dreamt of surfing in Siargao. It’s been known to be world class and I can’t even comprehend what world-class waves look or feel like. All I know is that I cannot fail myself. I came here to surf. I can’t go home without riding Siargao’s waves. 

I’ve surfed a total of around 4 hours in the last two days. Good enough for somebody who actually forgot the last time they surfed! I think it’s been more than a quarter of a year since I last rode a wave successfully (sigh).

To get to one of the spots in Pesangan, you have to rent a boat which costs around Php 150 per person or you could opt to paddle your own board for free but that would take an average of 30 minutes or more.

To get to one of the spots in Pesangan, you have to rent a boat which costs around Php 150 per person or you could opt to paddle your own board for free but that would take an average of 30 minutes or more.

Amusingly, the first spot I surfed in was in Pesangan. The spot is called either Cemetery or Graveyard because the spot is near a graveyard. I didn’t notice there was one until after surfing. 

Rented boats wait until you finish surfing, typically around 3-4 hours depending on the weather conditions. This is the usual scene after a good day of surfing. Stoked surfers wait around in the shallow waters where the boats park to wait for the rest of the passengers. This is my kind of parking lot. :)

Rented boats wait until you finish surfing, typically around 3-4 hours depending on the weather conditions. This is the usual scene after a good day of surfing. Stoked surfers wait around in the shallow waters where the boats park to wait for the rest of the passengers. This is my kind of parking lot. :)

Somebody pointed out to me the origin of that name. Had I known earlier what the spot was called, I’d think twice of going there. But who am I kidding? It’s surfing! I never say no!

I liken surfing at a new spot similar to entering a stranger’s house for the first time. In the Philippine culture, it’s customary to take off one’s shoes if the host or owner of the house does even if they say don’t take your shoes off. You walk to their living room like a cat on its toes (if it does have toes) unwanting to disturb whatever balance in the universe that was already there before you.

I apply the same respect when I try surfing in a new spot. I tread carefully. Maybe for fear of stepping on sea urchins that have their way of hiding in plain sight but most of the time because I really don’t want to disturb whatever creature that has made its home in this spot.

Words escape me when I try to describe the waves and the places were we surfed. It was nothing short of breathtaking amazement. The playground was immensely wide. It felt like it occupied one whole side of the island. There were waves for all types of surfers. 

The first day in Siargao was already worth it because I 'bumped into' Manuel Melindo, one of Siargao's pride. Oh, I also follow him on Instagram and I'm fangirling right here. Sorry, couldn't help it.

The first day in Siargao was already worth it because I 'bumped into' Manuel Melindo, one of Siargao's pride. Oh, I also follow him on Instagram and I'm fangirling right here. Sorry, couldn't help it.


All you had to do was pick an area where the waves were breaking. That day, there wasn’t a spot that was empty. If you wanted big ones, head towards the peak of the wave where almost all the seasoned surfers are. 

For medium to small waves, head for the shoulders were it’s a bit nicer. Beginners like myself can be found in the less crowded areas where we wouldn’t be a nuisance to the seasoned surfers. I’d hate it when I would waste a wave that they could have been on.

I, the mere stranger to this majestic island, have to live by the rule of the sea and the ethics I’ve been taught. No littering, no dropping-in and stealing waves. Always mindful to greet anybody who paddles by me with a smile and hello, how I love this island life. 

I love it how people make an effort to be friendly to strangers. We’re always a stranger somewhere in this planet but we always have a choice not make somebody feel like a stranger.

After three days of surfing at three different spots (Pesangan, Jacking Horse and Quicksilver), I felt a sense of peace and rejuvination emanating from every inch of my body.

On my last night in Siargao, I slumped into my cozy den of pillows after browsing on my photos from the day. My tired muscles immediately relaxed and I closed my eyes. Rewinding the day's events, of slow motion snaps and cutbacks of those skilled surfers who have called Siargao their home.

It’s best to get a surf instructor from the surf shops at the highway entrance so they can help you enjoy and maximize the experience of learning. Here is my surf instructor, Al-Al, telling me what to expect in the one hour lesson. It costs Php 500 per person (inclusive of board and instructor) for an hour’s lesson. Photo by Alex Lopez.

It’s best to get a surf instructor from the surf shops at the highway entrance so they can help you enjoy and maximize the experience of learning. Here is my surf instructor, Al-Al, telling me what to expect in the one hour lesson. It costs Php 500 per person (inclusive of board and instructor) for an hour’s lesson. Photo by Alex Lopez.


On the way back to Surigao, we took the first boat trip out and since we arrived early we got awesome seats with lots of legroom. Trying to make myself comfortable yet my mind still wanders back to those times that I spent in the water, feeling so blessed to have personally seen such skilled surfers grace the same waters I'm in.

Im awakened from my daydreaming by the stings of my sunburn on my arms which were sticking to walls inside the boat. Again, despite the stingy sunburn, I was the happiest,bronzed and stoked mermaid on this planet. ♥♥♥

Special thanks to Alex Lopez, DOT Region 13's wonder ladies: Marie, Sharlene and Ma'am Jean for making this trip awesome! :)

 

See the big waves behind us? There were surfers playing at that spot which name I forgot. It was amazing to see them ride those really big waves. I could have watched them the whole day! Photo by Alex Lopez.

See the big waves behind us? There were surfers playing at that spot which name I forgot. It was amazing to see them ride those really big waves. I could have watched them the whole day! Photo by Alex Lopez.

After relocating to Siargao last year, Bren here recently celebrated his Siargao-nniversary. Thanks for bringing me to Pesangan!   

After relocating to Siargao last year, Bren here recently celebrated his Siargao-nniversary. Thanks for bringing me to Pesangan! 

 

Don't mind the oh so cute waves I'm on, look behind me - it's pumping! Photo by Alex Lopez.

Don't mind the oh so cute waves I'm on, look behind me - it's pumping! Photo by Alex Lopez.

***A shorter version of this story was originally published in EdgeDavao last November 15, 2016.

 
Siargao Island Series: Naked Island

Siargao Island Series: Naked Island

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How It Feels Out in the Water