By Melo Villareal
8th Siargao International Surfing Cup
Sept. 24 – 30, 2003 Siargao Island, General Luna, Surigao del Norte
Are you tired of the Urban Jungle? Try Siargao, a more than the usual island in the south with a different flavor. Dancing with gigantic waves is the main attraction in this part of Surigao del Norte. If you’re ready to get wet, this island promises you to get “Wild over Water”. Who would believe that one of the world’s most admired surfing spot is part of our 7,107 islands?
Some says it takes you forever to reach this jewel island but its worth for an adventure lover like me. Almost seven hours to be exact, counted from the time I left my house in Manila. If you are coming from Manila, it will take you one and a half hour flight to reach Butuan City then a two hours bus ride to Surigao City, the jump-off point to the island of Siargao. In Surigao, you will take a 15-minute jeepney ride to the pier to take a two-hour ferry ride to Dapa (Siargao’s main port town). If you miss the the 5:30 am ferry schedule, then you’ll have no choice but to wait for the 2pm one. Once in Siargao, you’ll have another 45-minute jeepney ride to reach the town of General Luna, where the famous Cloud 9 is. If you thought Siargao was only for surfers, think again. During the off season there’s still plenty to do like island hopping, diving, kayaking and more. Are you ready to get Wet?
Siargao: A Surfing Paradise
The unspoiled teardrop shaped island called Siargao is a Shangri-la for adventurers and nature lovers. It is the surfing capital of the Philippines. This surfing haven is located 800 kilometers Southeast of Manila. Siargao is now one of the world’s great frontiers for surf exploration. Its most popular break is “Cloud Nine.” Surfing is best from July to November when strong waves are in constant motion. The powerful wave-off “Cloud 9″ has been hailed as one of the world’s five toughest breaks and has been frequently compared to the famous surf of Hawaii and Australia.
Siargao’s “Cloud Nine”, a powerful hollow right hander, featured in “Surf Magazine” as one of the ten best waves in the world. East of Siargao Islands lies the Philippine Deep that rises from over 34,000 ft to a belt of reefs. This Oceanic trench is the reason for the excellent surf in Siargao; because it is so deep and the continental shelf narrow, the waves break with juice straight out of deep water and focus the wave energy straight at the beach. This area is set to become Asia’s next hot surfing destination and is truly one of the worlds’ last great frontiers for surf exploration.
Siargao Island is Surigao Del Norte’s “last frontier” facing the Pacific Ocean. The island boasts of quite a number of untapped natural resources that tourists marvel. Aside from the white beaches that abound, the seas of Siargao are the fishermen’s choice to catch fish and other marine products. This year, under the administration of Gov. Robert Lyndon Barbers, Siargao’s infrastructure development got the much needed “shot in the arm” with its people seeing and feeling the improvements where during the previous provincial leaderships, “it was only but a dream,” so they said.
Are you ready for Island Hopping? There are islets where you’ll find fine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters comparable to Boracay Paradise. The three favorites – Guyam, Daku and Naked Island are close to General Luna and can be visited by renting your own banca for only P1,000.00. Traveling around the town makes easier with habal-habal, a motorcycle that can load up to 7 passengers to that will bring you to different destinations in town.
The Siargao Success Story
Back in the early 80’s surf pioneers ventured into this isolated and rugged territory and discovered excellent waves. The surfers were Steve Jones, an Australian and Tony Arroza, a Hispanic-American. Then there was this mysterious tourist by the name of “Max Walker” who settled in a solitary hut on the palm-fringed shores of Tuason Point, Catangnan, within a small distance from a perfect reef break, now popularly known as Cloud Nine. He was probably the first to surf Cloud Nine and was also credited for discovering Grajagan or G-Land surf spot in Java, Indonesia. But this man was acting so strange that former town mayor Jaime Rusillon called him “Mad Max”. Looking back, I remember this strange tourist who starved himself until he died on the 44th day of his fast, which happened to be his birthday. He was buried in Tuason Point, fronting Cloud Nine. Eventually, it was known that he was the legendary Hawaiian surf traveler John Michael “Mike” Boyum who was sought after by Hawaiian authorities for drug trafficking. He escaped and settled in General Luna for its remote location and excellent surf. Only upon Boyum’s death did the former mayor realize that his fans and friends in the surfing world were tracking his treks. Eventually, those who followed Boyum’s Philippine adventure and took pictures that landed in various international magazines blew the tight lid off Siargao.
The International Surfing Cup
There are 42 Filipino surfers who competed in this years National Surfing Competition, a prelude to the 8th Siargao International Surfing Cup last September 26 – 30 in General Luna Town in Surigao del Norte. The only Filipino surfer that qualifies in the semi-finals is Carlito Nogalo who is a native of General Luna, Siargao Island. Filipino competitors are coming from Quezon City, Baler Aurora, Tacloban Leyte, Borongan Samar, Soccoro Siargao, Daet Camarinez Sur, Tanauan Leyte, Sabang Aurora, Davao City and the host General Luna. This International Cup is accredited as a 2 star surfing competition by the Association of Surfing Professionals – Australia / Asia Region (ASP-AA). This year’s cup was participated by world class surfers from Australia, Indonesia, Hawaii, Japan, USA and the Philippines. John S. Callahan, An internationally recognized action / sports photographer said that Siargao is underrated but very promising for the international surfing circuit. “The officials need to explore more surfing destination in the nearby area because of its world class waves” he added.
The 8th Siargao International Surfing Cup Winners are as follows:
Champion = Jay Thompson (Australia) P225,000.00 cash + Trophy
1st runner-up = Mark Matthews (Australia) P185,000.00 + Trophy
2nd runner-up = Aaron Fredette (Hawaii) P75,000.00 + Trophy
3rd runner-up = Matthew Griggs (Australia) P45,000.00 + Trophy
4th runner-up = Carlito Nogalo (Philippines) P25,000.00 + Tropy; Dion Agius (Australia) P25,000.00 + Trophy
5th runner-up = Kirby Fukunaga (Japan) P10,000.00 + Trophy; Dionisio Espejon (Philippines) P10,000.00 + Trophy; Mike Billgren ( California, USA) P10,000.00 + Trophy
Former national champion and best local surfer Fernando Alipayo wasn’t able to join because of a motorcycle accident (habal-habal in the local tongue) prior to the sports event.
The Australian Jay Thompson emerged triumphant in this years 8th Siargao International Surfing Cup ended last September 27, 2003. Siargao is becoming a surfing paradise in the world because of its world class waves and ecotourism wonders – Sunny Abberton – Australian surfer.
This years competition was a world record breaking event because of the 18 surf board broken by the powerful wave of Siargao. Australians have four winners (Champion, First Runner Up, Third Runner Up and 4th Runner Up) being this years most powerful Country getting with the most award among the professional surfers circuit.
Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon said that the international surfing competition is being staged as part of the Department of Tourism (DOT), the provincial government of Surigao del Norte, municipal government of General Luna and the tourism private sector’s unified bid to promote the Philippines as the “surfing destination of Asia”. “This international sports competition strengthens our claim that the Philippines is a destination that offers special interest activities as relaxed and enjoyable as it can get or as extreme and challenging as you like it to be,” Gordon enthused.
Governor Robert Lyndon Barbers aims to capitalize Siargao as a main tourist destination in the province of Surigao because of its natural wonder and its big potential. The provincial tourism board is planning to host a yearly Nestea Volleyball Tournament to showcase the beauty of the island.
In the past years Siargao hosted 7 international surfing competitions. In 2002, Siargao was the site of the 7th sage of the world body boarding circuit, while only in June 2003, the grueling Habitat Carrera Island Adventure sports competition was held here.
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Are you a first time surfer in Siargao?
Â·Buy and wear booties (rubber surfing boots). You will need to walk in some rocky reefs to get to the waves
Â·Bring a first aid kit – and know how to use it!
Â·Always bring sunscreen protection
Â·Its Important to have travel insurance
Are you a first time traveler to Siargao?
Â·You need to have a Smart of Talk and Text Mobile Phone because it’s the only mobile connectivity in this island
Â·Internet Connection is very few, only one found in Dapa
Â·Always bring sunscreen protection
Â·Bring a camera and take your memorable photos from this fantastic island
Siargao Surfing Spots
Tuason Point: (3 kms. north of General Luna) This is the most well-known surfing area in the Philippines. It also contains the most well known surf site in the country – Cloud 9 (C9). Cloud 9 is a hollow and heavy right hand barrel; for experienced riders only.
Within a stone’s throw from C9 are three other world-class waves: When the sections line up, Jacking Horse is a long and fun right hander. It is about 200m north of C9. Tuason Left is, on its day, an amazingly hollow and powerful left hander. Experienced surfers only. This wave is about 400m south of C9. Cemetery’s is a really fun left hander suitable for all surfers. Head north of GL, find the cemetery and paddle out.
North of C9: There are countless waves within an hour-and-a-half boat ride north of C9. Some of the more well-known ones include: Stimpies, a great left hander. Can be fat, can be hollow, can be perfect. Rock Island, a 300m right hander that, on its day, can be flawless. These two waves can be seen from C9 and break on the opposite tide so, when its too low at C9, just jump into a pump boat for some slicker waves.
Further north is what I consider the best left hander in the area, Pacifico. This wave is long, hollow, and powerful. Not to be missed. Still further north is Burgos, an area with several lefts and rights that, on their day, rival any others on the islands. Keep heading north and you will find plenty of known and “secret” spots to whet your appetite.
GL and south: To the south of GL, all waves must be reached by boat, and are always a highlight of one’s holiday. Daku is an island to the east of GL and has a fun right hander that breaks during large swells. The wave breaks on the protected side of the island so it is usually small and great for beginners. Pansukian Reef is a fickle but hollow right hander; another for experienced surfers only. Further south are the islands of La Janoza and Mamon. These islands are beautiful. There are numerous waves in this area with the pick of the bunch being at Mabuntok Reef, which is to the left on Mamon. This wave will cater to all levels and is situated by one of the most pleasant and picturesque beaches in the region.
How To Get There?
Asian Spirit flies every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from Cebu to Surigao vice-versa. Philippine Airlines flies daily from Manila to Butuan city, a two-hour bus ride from Surigao City.
SEAIR flies from Cebu to Siargao on Tuesday and Saturday. For Reservations, call Tel: 02-844-1521
Buses from Pasay City have trips going to Surigao several times a week via Lipa ferry terminal. Daily bus trips from Surigao City to Cagayan de Oro or Davao City via Butuan City are available at regular intervals.
Passenger boats direct from Manila and Cebu City are also available.
Upon reaching Surigao City, there are daily fast craft transfers to Siargao Island.
Where To Stay
Provincial Tourism and Culturre Office
Provincial Grandstand, Surigao City
Tel # (086) 231-9271
Provincial Planning and Development Office
Provincial Capitol, Surigao City
Tel # (086) 231-7041 fax # (086) 826-4371
Infos about the surfing competition
Tel: 00632 ?631-6218
For more information visit -> www.lakbaypilipinas.com.