Filipino surfer captures international surfing title

CLOUD NINE, GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island (MindaNews / 9 Oct) – It was a neck-to-neck battle between Hawaii and the Philippines in the final game match up but home-grown surfer John Mark “Marama” Tokong has reigned supreme, capturing the 25th Siargao International Surfing Cup title.

John Mark “Marama” Tokong’s  barrell-to-aerial combination wowed the judges that led to his winning the 25th Siargao International Surfing Cup. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

Tokong, 23, beat Hawaiian surfer Noah Beschen in the final game with just a 0.05-point lead in the 30-minute surf duel. This is his second title in this competition after he was declared champion in 2015.

The Hawaiian surfer was leading with less than a minute to go when Tokong overtook Beschen via depth charge in the barrel with aerial and cut-back combination, enough to convince the judges.

“I was too pressured in the dying seconds under a minute mark because I know I’m behind. I took the patience and waited for another set of waves,” Tokong told MindaNews after the competition.

“When the announcer made a countdown, I told myself not to be down and instead took the courage to think positively and made a good decision,” Tokong said, adding that he took the charge with less than 20 seconds to go and gave the best he could to win the title.

“Marama” in the barrel, just before his aerial. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

Tokong finished with total combined points of 16.80 while Beschen had 16.75.

Prior to the final game, in the last elimination round on Tuesday, Tokong avenged his loss last year to Skip McCullough, who won the championship as the home-grown surfer settled for first runner-up.

Tokong, the only remaining Filipino surfer left in the competition after 20 others were eliminated in the early rounds, outclassed the American surfer along with South African Koby Oberholzer in the aerial fashion.

Tokong dominated against Indonesian surfer Oney Anwar in the quarterfinals.

Advancing to the semifinal round, Tokong continued his momentum and defeated Costa Rican Tomas King.

“I congratulate Marama Tokong for the job well done. It was a great match up,” Beschen told MindaNews.

Hawaiian surfer Noah Beschen was leading in points, but Filipino John Mark “Marama” Tokong overtook him in the dying seconds of the final round. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

“I know I was leading but it is what it is. I’m super stoked now that I have entered the finals,” he added.

The 25th Siargao International Surfing Cup is a World Surfing League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1,500 event. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)