Thursday, March 30, 2006

Surfing the North Swell

Tomorrow is the last day of March. The first quarter of the year is officially going to be over by the weekend. And technically, this also means that summer is in full-swing. Photos of beach and out-of-the-country trips are soon going to be all over various multiply accounts. Friendster photos will change to feature people basking with their new tans. Fun for everyone!

But for me and other weekend surfers, it also heralds the end of the north swell season and the seemingly long wait for the start of the south swell. We're all looking at a no-surf-in-Luzon spell unless:
- a freak swell arrives in La Union or Zambales
- we make the long-ass drive down to Daet
- we take the 11-hour bus ride to Baler

The last three months have yielded some very interesting surf trips beginning with the first weekend of January when Kathy, Zeny and I headed up to La Union as an extension of my birthday celebration. Saturday was not that much fun for Kathy (who was stuck sweating buckets in a room with no electricity while Zeny and I mucked around in Bacnotan. But Sunday proved much better as Joncy managed to convince her to get into the water and on to a longboard. We even scored a delicious late lunch at Bali Hai on the way back down to Manila.

Two weekends after that was the Reef @ Manila Surfers Cup competition in La Union followed quickly by the 10th Aurora Surfing Cup in Baler where I spent a week watching waves but not actually riding them. *sigh* Yep, I was in Baler for a week and I didn't get to surf. The initial plan was to paddle out the first few days before the quarter-finals of the comp and then buckle down and shoot from the quarters to the finals. Except that it was cold and choppy and I just was not in the right frame of mind to try and get out to the line-up under those conditions. And then when the weather did clear up, it was time to shoot the real surfers. And yes, I know, I was being picky about it.

We just back from Baler on a Monday. By Friday I was strapping my board to a pick-up and driving up to La Union for the weekend. Now this was the weekend that more than made up for the week of no surf in Baler. Kim, Phillip, Jong, Gab and I had a Super Saturday Session at Bacnotan. I can't even begin to explain it. I'm a firm believer that everyone's stoke is a personal thing -- and that the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun. And this session? FUN.

We had been surfing for nearly 4 hours (and me on an empty stomach) and I was just about ready to take a lunch break when this beautiful wave happened for me. It was just the right size (for my skill level anyway) and I actually made the drop instead of popping-up too late (which happens to me still). The best part was that I had witnesses! Hahaha. And whaddayaknow, suddenly I wasn't all that hungry.

Eventually, our bodies overruled our stoke and we broke for a very quick lunch. On our way back, we were joined by Kim, who had been in Vigan for a work thing. The afternoon session was just as much fun as the morning one. Especially for me because now I had another girl in the line-up to share the stoke with ("yeah, yeah!") We stayed in the water til nearly sunset and on our drive back to the apartments, kept grinning and smiling and talking about our rides.

Not everyone had been with us for the session so needless to say, we were kind of annoying at dinner. Some friends actually vowed to get us drunk so we would oversleep and miss the morning session. But, come Sunday, bright and early... there we all were again, sitting in the line-up with everyone and telling each other "yesterday was nicer no?" Hahaha.

I'm glad we made the most out of that weekend because the next two trips fell a little short in comparison. The first was a day trip to Zambales to promote surfing to members of Power Up. MSA was there to give a talk on surf safety and surf etiquette. Alessa, Aya and I were a little dismayed by the tiny waves but nevertheless decided we would paddle out anyway. And you know what? I managed to catch one despite the fact that it was breaking so close to the shore. A tiny backside wall. A wall so small that my own backside was peaking out over the crest of the wave. But hey, a wall is a wall and stoke comes from many different kinds of rides. Even Aya managed to nab herself a few rides before we all called it quits for the morning.

Compared to what we got in the afternoon, the morning was a blast. Dumpy, close-out waves eventually drove us all back to shore where we decided to concentrate on an art project instead. Led by the creative hands of Alessa the art genius, we managed to make a life-sized Surf Girl out of rocks, driftwood, bamboo splints and my sarong. The other highlight of the trip was chowing down at Meat Plus in Subic where we ate as if we'd been charging double-overhead waves all day.

Kim and I were talking once about how sometimes you just feel "on" about your surf game and sometimes you are "off." I don't know if this still happens to the super good surfers or if it's a malady that affects those of us who are just learning. Anyway, if the Bacnotan Super Session signified that I was so "on" I went up to 11 (points to those that get the This Is Spinal Tap reference), the last trip to La Union about three weeks ago, I was on "off" mode.

A combination of things (including my mood and the waves) basically led to me deciding to cut my trip short and just head back down to Manila with Drew, who was really planning on heading home that same day. Apparently, I wasn't the only one feeling this way because by the time I was packed and ready, Marco and Earl had decided to leave with us as well. (Thanks by the way to Kim and Jong for bringing my board home for me on the bus!)

And that's been it so far. I missed the freak swell last weekend because I was in Caliraya for Captain Cat's birthday... which deserves an entry of its own... which I should be drafting right about now... so... leave comments if you want to.

This entry is brought to you by Brown Belly (perfect clothes for this summer heat!) and Planet Zips (catch the Planet Zips performance at Tiesto tomorrow night!)

Long Weekends for 2006

List of Philippine long weekends for the year 2006. Get planning people! There's a whole world out there to visit.

1. Holy Week April 13-16
2. Araw ng Kagitingan April 8-10
3. Labor Day April 29 - May 1
4. Independence Day June 10 - 12
5. National Heroes Day August 31 - September 3
6. Bonifacio Day November 30 - December 3

Then there're the holidays! Ho-leeee-daaaay, Madonna's singin' ho-leeeee-daaay!

Regular National Holidays
New Year's Day - January 1
Maundy Thursday -April 13
Good Friday -April 14
Araw ng Kagitingan (SUNDAY) - April 9
Labor Day (MONDAY) - May 1
Independence Day (MONDAY) - June 12
National Heroes Day (THURSDAY) - August 31
Bonifacio Day (THURSDAY) - November 30
Christmas Day (MONDAY) - December 25
National mourning in honor of the Philippine Revolution (SATURDAY) - December 30

Nationwide Special Public Non-Working Holidays

Anniversary of EDSA People Power Revolution (SATURDAY)February 25
Black Saturday -March 26
Manila Day (SATURDAY)June 24
Quezon City Day (Saturday) - August 19
Ninoy Aquino Day (Monday) - August 21
All Saint's and All Soul's Day (Wednesday & Thursday) - November 1 & 2
Last Day of the Year (Special Holiday) - December 31

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Phuket in Photos

A recent family trip to Phuket, Thailand must first be told in photos. A proper blog entry with actual sentences and big adjectives to follow soon. Promise. Until then:

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Phuket: Rich in culture and steeped in history.

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Abundant in natural beauty...

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and amazing food. Be it grilled squid sold in Patong...

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or richly prepared soups from a posh hotel.

Did we enjoy Phuket? You bet your baht we had a great time. Photo links and a proper blog soon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Random conversations about bathrooms

An interesting, albeit random, YM conversation with Millie sheds light on some cultural differences we take for granted.

millie: toilets and bathrooms are seperate in Oz!

kage: ahhh! like always?!

millie: yep

waterbaby: so like i would pee in one room then have a shower in another?

millie: yep..hahaha. thats why aussies freak out when they go to the phils

millie: and theres no toilet paper... and theres a shower over there and theyre like "i dont get does this work??"

kage: hahahaha

kage: but...

kage: i enjoy knowing that i can pee naked cos i can just take four steps and be in the shower.

millie: lol

kage: or if we're out surfing somewhere, i have my bucket of water and the tabo thing

millie: yeh

millie: it's cleaner

kage: the oz boys we were with in samar? had no idea what to do with the tabo thing they saw in the bucket of water.

kage: they thought it was for the toilet.

kage: so they were making do with the smallest trickle of water that came out of the pension house's shower.

millie: HAHAHAHA!!

millie: its like a myth...

kage: are we like the only country that uses the bucket and ladle system when there are no showers?

millie: i dunno!!...i think so!!hahaha..cos i was even reading this we had to read it at highschool and this guy..he was backpacking [in the book] and one of his trips was to the philippines and he couldnt work out how to go to the toilet without toilet paper and nobody would tell him how to do it.

millie: hahaha. so,maybe the phils is the only place! thats pretty cool though!! have outsmarted the rest of the world!

Thank you. Thank you. This random conversation was brought to you by Eillim Clothing and Brown Belly Beach Wear.

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My favorite bathroom to date. At the Sabi Sabi Safari Lodge in Skukuza South Africa. The walls were all glass so you could sit in the tub and watch kudu and antelope pass through the safari grounds in front of you. Wild with an H. Whild!

Addendum: This one blog has yielded a fairly interesting conversation. To learn more about the history of the tabo... please head over here

Friday, March 03, 2006

Help the Victims of the Leyte Tragedy

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In case the fonts are too small:
You can help the victims of the Leyte Tragedy through The Philippine National Red Cross
(contact numbers: +632-527-0000 and +632-527-0858) or through the GMA Kapuso Foundation (contact numbers: +632-928-4299)

If you know of any other organization that is involved in sending relief goods, monetary donations etc to Leyte, feel free to post a comment here so we can get the word out.

God bless!