Surfing in Siargao: Check!

As I type this, a bone near my collarbone is aching stubbornly. I close my eyes and remember where I got it and I remember: I went surfing last weekend!

The days leading up to the Siargao trip that was booked six months ago were very stressful. I had a lot on my plate {what's new?} and it was one of those times that I was truly, truly engrossed in what I was doing that I was considering just scrapping the plans off. I figured I would've had another chance to strap myself onto a board, however un-concrete.

I am so glad and thankful that I went ahead with it --- and with a blogger-turned-friend-turned-travel-buddy, too!

 View from the Multicab. My eyes were so big the entire trip because I was taking in all the greenery and the sight of the Philippines I know from history books.

Sasha calls shotgun and I take over the back of the multicab.


Siargao was easily the most virgin of all places I've been in the Philippines. When I arrived in the Siargao airport, I was amused at how relatively simple things were. I could see coconut trees swaying from about 15 meters away and a chicken was pecking about. Greenery littered every sight in Siargao and I knew, without a doubt that I truly was out of Manila. I'd live for this a long, long time, is what I thought. I might have a love-hate relationship with Manila but it was love at first sight with Siargao. I can distinctly remember how my heart did mini jumping jacks as I breathed the fresh air, as the sun beat down my back.

The hotel we booked was borne out of very good recommendations from Trip Advisor and from a mention in an article I found in Female Network. I thought to myself that there weren't a lot of hotels, might as well just get the popular one with the least negative feedback. So I did, and it was not a disappointment.

There are not much five-star type hotels in Siargao, or at least I didn't see one. Most of the establishments are simple and no frills. And might I add, that most of these were owned by Australian surfers who fell in love with the island and decided to live in there.


This. This is what welcomed me at Ocean 101 and just one look and the bumpy ride was gone from my memory.


Where we stayed, Ocean 101, was no different.


 Those are the beachfront rooms which are pretty no frills. We like!


Banana Peanut Shake from Ocean 101's Bar is a trip back to childhood.


All-Day Country Breakfast is the Breakfast of Champions! I eat this much every single day, thankyouverymuuch.


As we surveyed the place and basically lounged under the sun and the swaying trees for two days, I had noticed that the guests were mostly white surfers who have come to experience the famous washing machine-like surf haven that is Cloud 9. I have seen surfer after every surfer with various lengths of boards in tow and felt tiny knots form in my stomach.


We must've spent an entire half of a day just lounging in this hammock reading, having coffee, water and talking about life. It truly is a great life!



 Sea, Grass and Sand. I was in heaven.
I could fully understand why foreigners would come to this place. I don't mind waking up to this for a long, long time!


Cloud 9, where surfing dreams come true.



On the second level of the deck on Cloud 9



Siargao Sunset looks infinitely unique, for some reason.


And then I ignored it and figured I still had two days to psych myself up for the big surfing lesson. Truthfully, I had images of myself in my head slamming onto the board, drowning and floating off into the Pacific. And so I went to sleep.

As Sunday drifted in, I had no more excuses and my hours of learning were dwindling. As a boost of confidence, I had consistently bugged my trigger-happy travel buddy to surf, too {and yes, she stood up even faster than I did!}. It worked.

Banging {pronounced as Banjing}recommended her friend Otek to teach me how to surf. As Otek expertly applied coconut sex wax on the clementine-hued white surf board, I was filled with anticipation and fear but I guess there was no turning back now.

"Am I going to learn in two hours?," I asked.

"Of course," he reassured. But my heart was now doing backflips.

Otek started the lesson by making me simulate a stand in the sand. Of course, having been doing yoga for quite a time where I practice chaturanga dandasana a lot, it was pretty easy. Being in the water can be quite the different thing.

When I first posted about going surfing, a blogger friend, Tishie, commented that what people do not usually write is that surfing is 90% paddling and 10 % surfing. As I plopped myself onto the board and paddled to where the waves were, I remembered this piece of advice and paddled my way and got ready for my first wave. And boy, my arms did hurt the next day.

I'm not gonna lie: the first few tries wiped my spirit away. I have tried to climb up, hoist myself up using my arms and I have ended in the water about five times. It was not easy to lift even my own weight and my willpower was crashing by the minute. I truly just wanted to tell Otek I'll try again tomorrow and I'll just have another bottle of beer from Bones' Pub and try to understand rugby {it was the World Cup for Rugby that time}.

"Here's another one, it's a big one, and you better ride lest you get wiped out like laundry," Otek said in Filipino. I looked back and saw a humongous wave looming from the distance. I positioned myself better and muttered "Damn," under my breath. In my head, I was mustering every ounce of strength and courage I had to stand because my head was already hurting from falling too much and my body was slamming a bit too frequently. As Otek pushed me forward, I knew the wave was just behind me and I had the interval of a second to stand up. And man, I did.

Guess who forgot her rashguard? :S But in the grand scheme of things, it ain't the most important thing. The most important thing is to bring your courage and audacity to stand up and face your fears.

14. Learn how to surf. In 2009, I went on a roadtrip with my friends from work to La Union, Vigan and Pagudpud and swam in the ripples of strong waves but never surfed. Never even tried. What kind of chicken courage is that?
I continued to stand up {however, still falling every once in a while!} but as I cruised the water, I was chuckling to myself how it happened that I stood up because of survival. But it's not a bad reason to learn.

 My dream Blue Crush picture. Mabigat ang surfboard, I had to use both hands!

And here's a wiped out Tara:



The day went on with me and my aching arms and limbs. After the momentous hours of paddling, surfing and more paddling, Sasha and I celebrated with a couple of San Miguels and fell asleep under the coconut trees. When we woke up, there were stars above us, the people were setting up a bonfire and cheering teams on the rugby coverage. I just had to stop and marvel at the stars, utter a prayer of thanks and close my eyes.




 Currently reading: Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Yes, I can still do splits!


My last sunset in Siargao. I can't wait to go back for more.



By the end of the trip, I had a mix of wanting to stay for more, gratitude for a vacation well spent and for ticking an item from a list, for the friendship, for questions that gets answered and a realization that what I will come home to is a blessed life and existence. Life is good.


Some helpful links if you're planning to go to Siargao, which is a great thing to do, really:

How to get to Siargao
Ocean 101 {it's really inexpensive, this is my best bet in Siargao and OMG the food!}
Cebu Pacific flies directly to Siargao via Cebu and Air Phil Express flies to Surigao, wherein you can take a 2-hour boat ride to Dapa Port in Siargao.