The Millennial Mermaid: Chasing waves

Locals just wanna have fun. Champion skimboarder Sonnyboy “Bayogyog” Aporbo (left) and Michael “Daggy” Bucong share a wave seated on their surf boards.
Locals just wanna have fun. Champion skimboarder Sonnyboy “Bayogyog” Aporbo (left) and Michael “Daggy” Bucong share a wave seated on their surf boards.

It was an answered prayer. Everything in the universe aligned for this to happen. I got to finally live a dream – surfing Mindanao one spot at a time.

I remember Bruce Brown’s classic surf movie Endless Summer II where renowned pro surfers Robert “Wingnut” Weaver and Patrick O’Connell chased the summer season surfing in different spots all over the world. I’m doing an ‘Endless Summer’ except on a local scale, chasing waves along the Pacific-facing coast of Mindanao.

How I ended up traveling with 5 other surfers on this surf trip was a miracle.  I just happened to be at the right place and the right time. A schoolmate, Alex Solitaria who was organizing the trip with his friend, Joven Sambarde invited me to join them. They were quite unrelenting with the invitation.

I’m glad they were so persistent in wanting me to go with them. I couldn’t dare say no. This was something I only dreamt about. Plus, who wouldn’t want to go on a half-month trip surfing around Mindanao with a skilled and cool crew?

There were six of us on this surf trip. Main organizers were best friends Alex and Joven from Davao.  Alex and I knew each other from high school despite being two years younger than me. Surprisingly, we share the same story of leaving the corporate world to follow our passion.

Joven, who is back in the country for a vacation, has been Alex’ best friend ever since. He’s also a great cook and fire starter.  We’d probably starve without him. Then we have Sandy Santos, the only shortboarder in our group who works as a surf instructor in Siargao but originally is from Davao.

The other half of our crew, the ladies were half-Italian half-Japanese, Lisa Caldini who now lives in Siargao and Australian Bhrett Baker, a vegetarian and loves to make healthy veggie and fruit smoothies for us. Lisa has been surfing for around 5 years while Bhrett started surfing consistently since April last year.

All of them were skilled and experienced surfers who have been chasing waves even way before I did. And there was me, the kook or newbie surfer who like them shares the same passion of chasing waves. I only have one surfboard, my 6’11 funboard while the rest of them (except Sandy) all ride longboards.

It felt like a dream come true. I’d be finally able to surf other places in Mindanao. The first destination in our itinerary was Dahican in Mati City, Davao Oriental. Being the nearest from Davao City, it’s the most accessible place to learn to surf.

Alex, Joven and I actually learned to surf in Dahican. I guess this is why Dahican holds a special place in our hearts. There’s always a sentimental attachment to a place that holds a lot of memories of firsts.

Like your first time to stand on a surfboard, your first time to catch your own wave, your first major wipeout and for some, the first time to break boards.

We spent a week in Dahican which was the same time a low pressure area (LPA) was coming towards Mindanao. For surfers, LPAs bring two things: big waves and strong winds. Sometimes when the LPA becomes a storm, the waves get really big, sometimes too big and for us beginners, it’s best to watch the pros surf from the safety of the shore.

Next stop will be further up in Surigao del Sur, which I fondly call Surigao del Surf because of the numerous surf spots found around the province. So stay tuned for next week’s adventure! For more stories, check out my blog: