On a Breezy September Day

4:54 AM

A 3  year old experience was brought back from the grave after someone asked me to share my first surfing experience. This is also my first published article in Mantle. *Hooray!* Well aside from the coconuts and the scorching heat, here's an article of what I actually miss. If you wanna check it out on the website, here's the link:

On Cloud 9
by: Mariana

“Will I be able to stand within an hour?”

I’ve been asking myself the same question over and over again months before I even set foot in the ‘Surfing Capital of the Philippines.’

Surfing wasn’t really a childhood dream, but it was also something I was willing to do everyday if it was only a drive away. I’ve always been so fond of the ocean, and there’s no way I’m gonna die without ticking off this activity from my bucket list. 

It was 2016, the year when most of my friends online haven’t gone to the island itself
– or have tried surfing. It was the year when flights were still cheap. 2 years ago but I still remember it ever so vividly.

My colleagues and I decided to take a break from our job, we flew to the island, 5 months after booking the flight.

2 months before our mini vacation, we realized that we booked just in time for the annual international surfing competition, the Siargao Surfing Cup. It got us upset because we thought it would lessen the chances of actually surfing, the good news is, it didn’t!

When we were about to land, all we saw were coconut trees, we knew then and there that we were up for some epic tropical getaway. When we got to General Luna, the signal was so bad. “Perfect!” I thought to myself, no one’s gonna bother us here, especially about work. It was social media detox at it’s finest.

The next day, we woke up so early to start island hopping, we didn’t know it would only take the entire morning. To our delight we still had an afternoon all to ourselves. We never really had an itinerary, all we wanted to do was go island hopping and try surfing considering that there were only three of us on this trip.

We hopped on a ‘habal-habal,’ (a motorcycle with a roof, a means of transportation in the island) which took us all the way to Cloud 9, a popular surfing spot in Siargao.

When we arrived, local surfing instructors flocked us, took care of our valuables and made us pick our boards, they charged 500 per head, inclusive of the board and the instructor. I was shocked by how affordable it was.

They brought us to the shore for a 5 minute briefing. In my head, I was like, “Is that it? Will I actually remember that?” 

To get to the surfing area, we had to pass through the Boardwalk at Cloud 9, and go down from there since it was shallow. My friends and I were bringing our boards all the way to the tip of the boardwalk, and we were really feeling it. 

I’ll set the scene for you, it was sunny, the kind of sunny that reminds you of afternoons spent playing outside, back when you were 7.  The water was glistening, you could see the rocks underneath, and man were they rough! As soon as I got down from the stairs, I already scratched my foot, so I decided to ride the board instead and paddled behind my instructor. 

The waves were big but the sea wasn’t as rough as I expected it to be. It was like Poseidon was supporting our will to surf that day. 

The annoying question popped right back into my head again. I needed assurance, so I asked my instructor if I’d be able to learn in an hour. I remember him confidently telling me that if I still couldn’t stand up within that period, he won’t charge me 500 anymore. From that moment, I already knew that I was gonna stand up.
Learning how to surf is 60% ungraceful wipe-outs in the first 20 minutes. 
The instructors still helped by pushing the boards so we could ride with the momentum of the wave during the first half. 

If you want to be able to stand up right away, you have to do it without hesitation. Do not let fear take away your will to learn. Do not make it stop you. You also have to really listen to your instructor to avoid accidents, there are a handful of you in the vicinity trying to learn how, when it isn’t your turn to surf, don’t try to or another beginner will end up hitting your face. 

Within the hour I was able to catch my own wave a couple of times without my board being pushed by my instructor. It was so fulfilling. It felt like I was one with the ocean, it made me think, in that brief moment, that I can do anything my heart desires. 
Here’s what happens the first time you catch a wave by yourself: You feel the salty breeze despite the scorching heat, the adrenaline kicks in, you will see things in a whole new light and in that brief moment you will appreciate everything around you.

Paddling back was immensely the most taxing part of the whole experience especially because it’s quite far. It’s time consuming plus you don’t wanna waste it by being sluggish.

I ended up having cuts and bruises, but it didn’t really bother me considering that I’m athletic, wounds were always part of the game.

Ended up extending to two hours since we didn’t want to get out of the water. After everything, we wrapped up the day with post-surfing meals at Shaka – a quaint cafe that serves Instagram worthy power bowls, smoothies and cold-pressed juices located right in front of where we rented our surfboards. 

We went surfing again the next day but the waves were way stronger this time (did I mention it’s really addicting?)

Being in Siargao made me understand why some people migrate and start their lives all over there. I was extremely happy that I was able to surf this early in my life. I never thought 2016 was the year I could actually learn a new breathtaking activity.

When in Siargao, never pass up the opportunity to surf!

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