Parallel || Planets Feature: Surfer Queens Over and Under

When Parallel Planets, an independent webzine with an inclination for never-before-published pieces that talk about parallel perspectives that derail from the typical, asked me to answer a few questions for their December issue, I unblinkingly said yes. The month's motif was about the sea, and in the interview, I got to share viewpoints about how and why I let go of city living to pursue simpler means of attaining happiness.

I've reposted my entire segment in this entry. Check out the original page to read more lovely insights from wonderful wahines such as Kara Hizon, Maya Fernandez and Liane Ng.

An interview with Camille Pilar:

What do you love about the sea?

I started answering this questionnaire a week ago but I could not sit still, could not dispense even a spare ten minutes to type all that I wanted to say, because the waves would win every single time. I’ve caught myself opening my laptop and shutting it midway into startup because the pull of the sea would be so strong. Even on days when the conditions were not ideal for surfing, I’d rather be out there, sun bright, breeze cool, soul in quiet, imperturbable peace.

I have learned many lessons from my favorite body of water but the most recent one I’ve been living since we moved to the La Union coastline is this: the sea is my center. Nothing can start or end without it. These days, I wake up straining for the faintest sound of crashing waves, and at night, I go to sleep reminiscing the day’s rides, wipeouts, and those pauses in between the sets of waves, body bobbing in motion with the ocean, untethered, unfazed, free.

I love the sea because it clears the mind, simplifies life, and most of all, reveals. I love the sea for bringing myself back to me.

Where has been your favorite place to surf? If not in the Philippines, how does it compare to our local beaches?

I might not have a favorite place to surf but I have favorite things about each surf spot that I go to. To know where to go, we follow the seasons. When the swell comes in from the south as brought in by the “habagat” winds, I like watching the rain fall on the mountains of Pundaquit. I like looking for the rainbow after each sun shower in Zambales. And when the swell comes in from the north, ushered in by the “amihan” winds this time, I like the consistency of La Union waves and the sunsets of deep red and soft purple hues that await you at the end of a session. There are spots that work in between the seasonal shifts and this is when the Bicol region becomes home.

But no matter where I go to surf, whether North or South of here, or outside of the country, it is simple living that I love the most. I am over the thankless city life. I’ve learned that happiness isn’t about doing more, getting more or being more—it’s about wanting less.

Do you play music before you go surfing? What songs get you in the mood?

It depends on the waves! When they’re fun-sized and there’s a clear channel that you can follow to get to the lineup, I like listening to soft beats or acoustic chill or any mellow melody with a tropical vibe. I’m sorry, I think I’m making up music genres! <laughs> But when it’s firing out there and you can feel your pulse firing, too, any song can become a battle cry, your heartbeat, the deep bass drum of war. 

How would you pitch surfing to someone who has never entertained the idea of paddling in the direction of a giant wave?

Some people think success is a position, a stable profession, a certain number in one’s bank account. But surfing is one of those things that can make you realize that success is about saying “yes” at any given moment you are asked: are you happy?

I used to be less of a risk-taker. I liked to over-calculate my decisions and I ended up in a sad state of “safe,” a level of complacency that was the most dangerous thing to the human soul. If you’ve been raring for a brighter and braver way to live, try surfing. Or anything that will will bring you closer to the sea. You’d be surprised at how much you might come to love yourself and others, bruises and jellyfish stings included.

Have you ever fallen asleep on your board while at sea? Any "mermaid" dreams you can share?

No, not literally. But I’ve daydreamed countless of times. When you’re out there, your gaze tends to just drift across dreamlike scenery: tree-laden horizons, cloud canopies in the shape of ships, fishing boats that come in every color, sea birds spreading their majestic wings overhead, and the occasional glimpse from a curious fish or turtle amidst a glittering sea. And then you smile because none of these things are dreams after all.

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Thank you to Jofer and Erin of Parallel Planets for this opportunity to talk about the one thing that pushes me to do and be better daily. Sea you!