One of Philippines’ renowned travel bloggers, JMS, was still in the area and agreed to accompany me and my buddy-less self. We met that morning and went surfing “together.” (Oh that word sounds so cunning.)
He’s the embodiment of what I think I am had I been a guy. He’s the first person who beat me in eating fast (or maybe I was just too exhausted for anything, even food). He walks the same pace as mine (his strides are a few inches longer though), which I enjoyed. He’s very independent and that’s one thing people need in traveling solo. I’ve been with a lot of travelers from different countries and having a Filipino as a companion for that trip was a break from my “I’m a Filipino, let’s exchange cultures” self.
I can finally shut up with someone if there’s no need to talk about anything.
With my entire body bombarded by cold air from the road trip and wanting to forget the awkward intimate moments with my seatmate that morning, I wanted to catch up on some sleep for at least an hour, but things led to other things.
I eventually told JMS where I was staying (I was initially secretive about this). And while I was having a good time with the caretakers of my hostel, JMS arrived, all perky and rejuvinated from his stay with some of the locals.
Small chitchats with Kuya LRY about surfing tricks and some wild coffee from France I got from a friend.
Next thing I knew, we were walking towards the beach with my brain liquid gooey and dripping off my ears from exhaustion. Every thing was blurring out but I held on. I started asking JMS random things. I was lutang for real.
“Are you ready to be wiped out?” he asked as the waves suddenly came into view.
And those words, my friends, sealed my fate in. I should have seen the signs. His words were more than foretelling. And that was it.
OK, so there’s the thing. I was a newbie compared to him, and though I can boast I can ride waves already, I wasn’t really expecting my arms failing during my first few paddles.
I’ve never tried paddling it out that long. If you ride the jeepney covering the distance we paddled, it’s already minimum fare, student price.
Contrary to JMS’ suggestion, I was accompanied by Kuya (oh noes, I forget his name) and went to where every one else was surfing, the nerve-wracking Point Break area. I was calmly advised to stay in the white water area but hardheadedness kicked in.
Compared to the shallower Beach Front area, where beginners learn to surf, I convinced myself I could survive in the pro-area, Point Break.
Sometimes, we all have to balance courage and blind stupidity, and I learned that the grasping-for-breath way.
Nameless Kuya exercised remarkable patience with me the whole time. I could see him struggling not pushing me off the board when he felt the strong urge to. I was sleeping while waiting for a wave. I wasn’t paying attention. I kept on telling him to give me a few more minutes just so I could nap.
“Ma’am, walang natutulog dito.” (“Ma’am, no one sleeps here.”)
– Nameless Kuya
It was like a father I bringing a kid to a football game and having to explain to the kid the mechanics when, out of a miraculous play, the kid’s name was called and had to play in the very game they initially just wanted to just watch.
That sounds senseless but for lack of a better situation, I have to make something up.
Playing with Nameless Kuya and jumping on and off the board was straining my arms and torso to the maximum they could take until my wave came.
Yes, there was actually a wave made for me. Like it was a heavenly humor and all the forces are watching me ride a wave.
Or attempt at it, I dunno.
So I took it. Confidently, I made for it.
When, .0000001 seconds from when I stood up, I realised I wasn’t using the soft board I was used to using. I heard JMS’ voice play in my mind telling earlier which board to use.
“Soft board ka lang ah.”
I had no idea what he meant, but here was Nameless Kuya, handing me one of the hard ones.
“Ito board mo, Ma’am.”
That split second, those words mattered. But of course it was all too late for that.
And you know what happened next.
It wasn’t really a big mistake but it was downright stupid.
Here’s the thing about being in the “wipe out zone.”
You’re literally being wiped out. From the face of the earth that is.
The only thing that was keeping me sane was the notion that I was paying every single minute of that painful experience so I better survive it.
Plus, I should have at least read this before trying out La Union’s waves. But reading anything that kindles fear is leading to further self-destruction.
When I was nearing the reef, I was wondering what brought me to that place again. It was those moments when we question things we do for the sake of fun. What drove me into spending for waves to pound me like rice buds until I was nothing but pure raw commodity?
This is a surf trip. It’s not important to take good photos. What’s important is to take good videos.
– Journeying James
Think of your soiled favorite shirt being washed inside your mom’s washing machine. It was endless and for a moment, I was all pro-drought and for the waterless-ness of the world. (OK, I’m kidding.)
I kept calm. I was thinking about my family. I was missing my other friends. I told myself I still wanted to preach, teach and learn. Bah, I still want to get married in an island by the beach!
So I survived that ordeal and looked out to see the other surfers had their lives still going on. JMS later told me he was watching us get washed off to the reef with fascination. I wanted to wring his neck, but of course he could just run and outpace me anytime (I kid. He’s actually a really nice person and I enjoyed his company, plus I run fast myself so I wonder if he really can outpace me).
I was told to rest. I was exhausting myself and the concern around me was becoming both alarming and pressuring. After lunch, we went back to the hostel and I slept for an hour (in-between calls from the office and church) hoping to get my energy back.
At 4 P.M., we had ice cream (I met a Pawikan guy who was interestingly a diver and agreed to come dive with me in Apo Reef this summer) and I was again dragging myself to shore.
This time, I logically stayed by the beach front with the other newbies as I watched JMS and the others braved the waves from afar.
And thank God, I lived to tell the tale.
(Lookit his pictures from his page. As I saw them, I couldn’t help but laugh how I was being wiped out as he was taking them.)
JMS is this guy who ‘backpacked’ himself around the Philippines for 100 days the ‘cheapest way possible,’ and the fourth person to make me think of buying a beach house. Follow his adventures here.