President Duterte wants to try surfing in Siargao, says SEA Games gold medalist

GENERAL LUNA, Siargao (MindaNews / 11 Dec) – Southeast Asian Games surfing gold medalist Nilbie Blancada said President Rodrigo R. Duterte wants to try surfing in Siargao Island.

Nilbie Blancada competing in Taiwan in 2016. Photo courtesy of ASC

Blancada, who won in the women’s short board category in La Union last Sunday, made a courtesy visit at Malacañang Tuesday afternoon together with other members of the Philippine surfing team.

Blancada told MindaNews over a Messenger call this morning that the President has long wanted to visit Siargao Island and try surfing but he has apprehensions.

“I want to try surfing in Siargao but I’m afraid that I will be wiped out [by the waves] and hit my head on the reef,” Blancada quoted the President as saying.

Duterte, she said, told her that his son Sebastian, now vice mayor of Davao City, was once wiped out by the waves in Siargao, leaving a scar on his back. The younger Duterte, the President said, had the scar tattooed.

“It was a such great honor and privilege to see and talk with the President personally. We were so honored to meet Senators Manny Pacquiao, Bong Go and Tito Sotto,” said Blancada.

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, during her term, once surfed in the famous Cloud Nine surfing resort here.

Blancada revealed that she never expected to win the game as she was in a long hiatus.

“I just gave birth to my four-month-old baby,” said the 26-year-old who was number one female surfer in Asia in 2016. She also won several international competitions in and outside the country.

She said the sea condition was not great due to Typhoon Tisoy. The competition was even put on hold for a few days due to safety protocols.

“I did my best I could in every heat,” Blancada said, noting that she even thought she will be eliminated in the semi-finals as she faced a strong Indonesian contender.

“Surprisingly I was able to outclass her in a one-on-one matchup and continued my momentum,” she added.

In the finals, Blancada beat Thai surfer Annissa Tita Flynn with a 1.3-point lead margin.

“This is a sweet victory for all of us. It’s historic as surfing made a debut in the Southeast Asian Games,” Blancada said.

Aside from Blancada two other surfers from this town grabbed medals in the SEA Games.

Jevy Mae “Ikit” Agudo got the silver in the women’s longboard category while the reigning Siargao International surfing champion John Mark “Marama” Tokong grabbed the bronze in the men’s short board category.

Adding to the collection of medals, La Union’s queen surfer Daisy Valdez finished a pair of bronzes in the women’s longboard and shortboard events.

Filipino surfer Roger Casogay from La Union, who went viral after saving the life of another surfing competitor during eliminations, captured the gold in men’s short board. Because of his heroic deed, Casogay will be the flag-bearer in the closing rites tonight.

The Philippine team dominated the 30th SEA Games in surfing with two golds, two silvers and three bronzes. Indonesia ranked second with two golds, one silver and a bronze. Thailand finished with one silver and two bronzes.

General Luna Mayor Cecilia Rusillon was elated when she received reports that Siargao surfers will be bringing home medals.

“These surfers brought honor and glory to General Luna, to Siargao, to the province and the country,” she said. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)