The Longboard Capital of the Philippines.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
For a year since I started working, everyday felt like a task. I didn’t know how to balance my time. At first, just like any other rookie in a sport, I was enthusiastic, lively, performed at my best, and I looked forward to treating patients every single day over and over again– until I hit the end of the honeymoon stage.
I worked 9-hours a day, an hour or two of freelance PT, went to graduate school at night 3 days a week, and was struggling to squeeze-in a couple of gym sessions, dates, night-outs, so as to feel alive (I’d say I was still recovering from the break-up last year, too!)
It was that heavy.
I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing with my life. I needed some flare, some energy; I needed to feed-off of something to push myself; I didn’t want to drift back to the dark days that I’ve experienced a year before…
I had to do something, I needed an outlet, I had to have something.
The First Ride
The first time I went to La Union, I was with my high school clique. I was expecting a whole lot for an upcoming and developing tourist site: grammable spots that people were raving about, the infamous Flotsam and Jetsam, the food joints I see in social media, and on top of it all, surfing; I was excited to learn how to surf!
All that excitement of getting on a board and riding waves was built-up because of a patient of mine that kept on raving about this feeling of getting stoked. She’s had an operation on one knee and now a tear on the other, but she just won’t stop surfing!
The athlete/adrenaline junkie inside me just craved for it!
Alas, I got my first surfing lesson last December 2017. The coach that taught me was a local surfer, Kuya Eping (@jeffrey_esquivel [Instagram]), who was referred by my patient.
He did an outrageously good job in teaching me the basics. I could say so because the first wave he asked me to take, I was already able to get a long ride!
Check out Esquivel Surf School for your first surf lesson, and/or surf board rentals! Best locals in town, I swear!
I paddled ferociously each and every time going back to the line-up; where Kuya Eping was, and where the waves were popping.
I still had to feel out how to pop-up properly, my foot placement, how to shift my weight, and how to adjust. I could say that it was a smooth start nonetheless thanks to Kuya Eps!
Unimaginably, just after 4 or 5 trips, I was TIRED
I didn’t imagine it to be that hard to actually paddle! And this is from a guy who works out 3 times a week, takes around 10,000 steps per day, and tries to eat healthy! (Okay, tbh I barely do cardio, but you get the point!)
I thought of surfing as, well…, riding waves and getting stoked. Walking on the board and flipping around doing aerials and all, but nobody told me that PADDLING IS A HUGE PART OF IT.
I’ll let you be the judge!!
Extremely regret not having to get pictures of that surf sesh!
(I DIDN’T HAVE PICTURES BECAUSE MY FRIENDS WERE ALL DRINKING LMAO)
This is what it looked like whenever I try to imagine it:
The waves were gushing, the sky was stunningly-colored tangerine, the heavens were right in between clear and cloudy…
It was just perfect.
The Morning After
After the surf session, I was down-and-out and I wasn’t even in the mood to drink! I fixed myself up, rushed to my bed, slept for 10 hours I think, then woke-up around 8AM with a sore neck, a sore back, and a pair of cramping hamstrings; DOMS all-over! (Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness lol)
BUT, guess what I did when I first woke up?
I jumped-off the bed, wore a pair of shorts, and ran towards the beach, (hell I can’t even remember if I brushed my teeth!), to the Esquivel Surf School nipa hut!
The First Time I met my Coach
I was doubtful and apprehensive at first when I met him: he was 4 years younger than me, skinny (but lean), smaller than me (but definitely had more wit), and didn’t look that serious unlike Kuya Eping (had a smiling face the entire freaking time!). Guess you really can’t judge a book by its cover!
He used the term “Kuys” a lot. A shortcut from the word “Kuya”: tagalog for older brother. And so I got used to calling him (and other people haha) back the same thing!
This was only my second time to surf, but he brought me a lot farther than where the new students were.
There were definitely bigger and longer waves from here on out, but that also meant I had to paddle a lot farther back than I did the first time! And I thought that was already difficult!)
Is all I thought to myself. Everything’s cramping: my neck, shoulders, lats, legs but I HAD to keep paddling!
Took me a couple of errors and needed a whole-lot of pushing from behind before I got the hang of trying to catch a bigger wave.
That also meant a lot of falling down quickly, getting wiped-out really bad— like washing machine bad, and trying to suck-up air and not seawater while trying not to drown!
And in one moment while we were letting the waves pass-by, I asked for a pause because I needed some rest and I was getting more wipeouts than waves lol
He shouted with excitement:
“Kuys, ready ka, maganda to!”
I paddled angrily with my sore muscles, waited for the right timing as I bent my left knee to the side in a Spiderman pose. He pushed the board forward from the back as I popped myself up and slid my right leg immediately as far-forward as I can to stand–
I finally caught a good one!
I rode for maybe a little less than a minute, around 400 meters down up until the shore.
I tried to play with my balance, shifted my weight forward and back, moved my front foot a little here and there.
And there it was….
So this is what it feels like…
A moment of bliss and ecstasy.
STOKED, MAN. I WAS F-ING STOKED.
It was amazing.
I can’t even feel any soreness after, I don’t feel tired! I remember that I was just smiling the whole time and I didn’t wanna go back home (and I wouldn’t have if I didn’t have work the next day! Boo!).
I even drove back home for around 8 freakin’ hours without feeling sleepy!
It was weird; I was insanely high!
Talk about flare! Talk about energy, excitement, rush of emotions, the feeling that you can’t contain yourself while you’re on top of that wave.
It was like taking a shot at the buzzer while shouting “Kobe” at the back of your mind… and you made the shot!
Except that it was like an endless limbo of that feeling!
This was different.
This was it.
This is EXACTLY what I was looking for.
I did find the Light that I was looking for.
I did get to experience the time of my life.
I wasn’t just happy, I was excited— suddenly excited for the things to come.
I felt alive.
This came at that crucial moment of my life that I needed to feel enlivened again.
I felt at home.
I didn’t want to go back to Manila, if only I didn’t need to…
I craved for more.
While driving back home, I thought to myself:
Two days and a night wasn’t enough.
I had to explore more of this wonderful town.
I had to learn more about surfing.
“I have to come back.”