LANUZA, Surigao del Sur (MindaNews/14 November) — A few years ago, I interviewed the first Filipino surfing champion in Siargao and he said he hopes that someday young Filipino surfers will win in the annual surfing competition there.
Two years later, young local surfers lorded it over in the succeeding surfing festival, beating some advanced foreign surfers, mostly from Australia. (Last year, I was told, a local surfer topped the event.)
Yesterday, a day before the Lanuza Surfing Festival participated in by 118 surfers I stood on a pebbled beach with a crowd of children and few adults. Big waves rolled and roared before us, the sky dark and gloomy with a few streaks of rain. But that didn’t stop the crowd from curiously watching a group of surfers, 20 of them children, plus 10 adults including a few women, battling the waves.
The children were all locals (some came all the way from Siargao) but judging from what I saw they can beat any aspiring adult surfers. Their lean and tiny figures balanced well with the surfboards. Those boards, incidentally, were either borrowed or given, courtesy of supportive donors or sponsors.
The group of kids beside me was ecstatic to see a surfer friend glide through the waves, hardly falling down, arms outreached to both sides and leaping up and doing a U-turn before being swallowed, his surfboard leaping out a few feet away. “Show-off!” they laughed and cheered.” I like it when he does that!” Someone shouted to the surfer his mother was looking for him and they roared with laughter once more.
One by one other surfers rode and wrestled with the waves, some falling quickly while others gracefully negotiated with precision. “Look at him, he will fly!” a boy pointed to one surfer paddling towards a huge barrel, all holding their breath as he climbed up and rode the waves like there is no tomorrow, what poets may call poetry in motion. The world stopped when he pivoted the board and leaped up, indeed he flew and all cheered!
When the excitement was over, I asked the boys if they too surf and they said no. Why not, I queried. One said it’s tiring to practice, another one said he has no board, while the others just giggled.
“So you all are just contented to be cheering squad?” I joked. They smiled embarrassingly but approvingly.
The kids said the surfers out in the sea are either their classmates or neighbors. I asked if the surfers regularly go to school and they said they do but they would rather play.( One child surfer I talked to earlier said he would like to win to help the family.)
As the drizzle turned heavy, the kids started to race towards the town proper. I stole a look at the surfers and I thought it must be lonely without friends roaring for you while you ride the waves. But then again, I could be wrong. (Ramon Jorge B. Sarabosing/MindaNews)