On that trip to Siargao, Philippines last September 2014, I thought that I would just be taking a photo beside a surf board or a surfer. Some of my friends have mocked me for not having plans of riding the board myself. Now, how can someone who cannot swim not be afraid of surfing? If I cannot even make myself stay afloat, how can I even think about standing on a board being pushed by a wave of water? I am hydrophobic! And have always thought of staying at the safe side of things. I am not a thrill seeker and I rarely go for the extremes. I’ve never envisioned myself as a daredevil.
And so, yes, I did take photos standing and sitting beside a short board and of the surfers who have competed in the “2014 International Surfing Cup”. It was a one of a kind experience for me, to watch every one of them take turns riding and gliding with the tides. It was as if I literally had an inside joke with myself, when I started imagining myself doing the same. Well, I will always have the tourist in me and so I just decided to enjoy the company of my friends by trying out different food places and coffee shops in the area. Everybody was laid-back. It was a place for chilling and relaxing. It was a soothing, calming, and peaceful experience for me. And was exactly what I needed to keep the stresses of work at bay.
Then came our second day on the island. Two of my friends wanted to try surfing. One of them, like me, cannot swim either. But our excitement was building up.
We were introduced to our very reliable instructors, thanks to a friend who is a surfer dude himself. Mine was under the name “Longlife”, his real name was Neil. The very first thing that I did was warn him that I couldn’t swim. He gave me that reassuring laugh that I don’t need that skill at all. He said that as a beginner, I’ll be riding baby waves first. I had the long board, which was tied to my left leg (or was it the right?), to keep me afloat should I fall from it. He just told me to stay calm the whole time and to just pull the board via the leash back to me and climb back on it after every fall. He gave very simple yet clear instructions. Feeling excited and afraid at the same time, I told myself to listen to Longlife closely. After all, I want to live a long life.
Fist Surfing Experience
Our session lasted for an hour. I was able to stand on the board for about six to seven times. And for a first-timer like me, it was an accomplishment. Fear made me fall on my first few rides. I have even experienced colliding with another surfer chick on the water. That was so intense that it made me scream! Haha! What made me stand on the board was when Longlife told me that instructors actually mock each other, every time their student fails to get up. I wanted him to be proud of me. He always made a point to give me a tip after every ride. Then I started asking him what I did wrong and did right for each one. It was then that I ended up always standing on my last rides. He told me at the end of the hour that he was very proud of me, and I was very proud of myself, too.
I ended up having another one hour session in the morning of the next day before our flight back to Cebu. This time, I never fell off the board. I’ve learned how to come to a halt and sit on the board before paddling back to the waves. The only time I failed was when I ended up kneeling on an entire ride.
Laid-Back and So Chill
Surfing made me realize that:
1. You cannot tell yourself that you cannot do something without trying it out first.
2. Our fears limit our abilities and capabilities by thinking negatively about an endeavor.
3. Listening and following instructions are very important.
4. Trusting and believing in yourself is key to achieving a goal set before you.
5. It is not enough to try something once, you must get up after every failed attempt in life.
6. Balance is not easy but attainable.
7. We need to keep practicing to be able to master something.
8. And to enjoy every moment of the journey towards our destination. (In this case enjoying every ride whether I was falling from, standing, kneeling, or sitting on the board.)
Lost my on-the-board photos. My bad.
And all of these treasured lessons from the Island of Cloud 9, Siargao, will stay in my heart. I am doing my very best to give everything that I do my best shot. I’d love to surf again and again and again. In fact, I’ve tried doing it in Carmen, Cebu with one of the founders of the Cebu surfing community. Well, every shore would be different from the other. I had to struggle through the spiky/thorny rocks in that shallow area. Falling on them and scratching my skin was scarier than falling onto deep waters. Haha. And nope, my surfing journey does not end here. I’ll keep riding and gliding with the waves of life, and enjoying them, too!
Joined a Surf Camp the year after. My last surf trip.
Want to join me on my next surf trip? It’s been a while…