Members and aspirants of the Philippine surfing team based in the paradise island of Siargao have stayed resilient amid the destruction brought by recent Typhoon Odette, which ravaged parts of Visayas and Mindanao.
Most of them had their homes severely damaged, if not totally flattened, by the typhoon. Their main training facility was also in gross disarray.
The good thing, though, is that the ocean that is home to the world-famous Cloud Nine, is back to its calmness and fierceness—bringing joy to the surfers.
“(Year) 2021 ended leaving the Surfing Icon and Capital of the Philippines, Siargao, in a crumble. Our fellow Filipinos will come back stronger, together,” said the official post of the United Philippine Surfing Association, the official sport association for surfing in the country.
Cloud Nine is a premier surfing site in General Luna, Surigao De Norte that is famous for its gigantic waves preferred by world-class surfers.
The same post named coaches Manuel Melindo and John Carby, and athletes John Mark Tokong, Edito Alcala Jr., Philmar Alipayo, Eduardo Alciso, Nilbie Blancada, Jolina Longos, Ana Mae Alipayo, Jevy Mae Agudo, Noah Arkfeld and Kaikai Alcala—who all live in Siargao, were accounted for and tagged safe.
They were among those who were given assistance and financial aid by the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission.
The PSC gave P15,000 each to about 85 athletes and 20 coaches belonging to 24 sports associations that were affected by typhoon Odette in the Visayas and Mindanao.
UPSA is also calling for help to rehabilitate its strength and conditioning training facility, named Crossfit Siargao, which was among the hardest hit on the island.
The PSC also set aside P50,000 financial aid for the rehabilitation of the weightlifting gym in Bohol.
Twelve-year-old Alcala, a product of UPSA’s grassroots program, however, had to stop training as his family began rebuilding from what was left of their damaged house.
Alcala’s mom, Manette, was a former five-time Philippine Surfing Champion and was part of the first-ever official Philippine team to compete back in 2008 at the Asian Beach Games in Bali, where she bagged the bronze in women’s shortboard, alongside now national team head coach Luke Landrigan, who finished with silver.
Despite the odds, the UPSA remains optimistic about the year ahead.
“This year, 2022, Pilipinas Surfing will strive to reach bigger heights. Our athletes and coaches will stand and carry our flag in International waters and bring pride to Philippines Surfing.”
Siargao is one of the country’s major surfing sites aside from San Juan in La Union, Borongan in Samar, Date in Camarines Norte, and Baler in Aurora.