The South Swell Salute

We had not been to Zambales in the past five months so seeing the vast Liw-liwa coastline set off a bittersweet excitement in us that felt like the first day of school. It was the mark of an ending, of a summer spent in the Pacific, and the mark of something beginning again. 

It was the first day of south swell classes and we were present!

Seeing our friends who surfed the same spots we did sparked the same delight in seeing one's classmates after a summer of waiting. We were all eager to be in the same lineup again and catch up on where we left off last season.

A not very complete class picture. (Liwa, 2013)

A not very complete class picture. (Liwa, 2013)

Okay, I'm ready for school.

Okay, I'm ready for school.

DISCLAIMER: I'm borrowing the next couple of photos (unless otherwise stated) from Gabs Batallones, this budding surf photographer from UST. All of the above photos are mine. Thank you, Gabs, for lugging around your waterproof gear to preserve these moments! I hope you become a name in Philippine surf photography someday. :) 

The tide was still too high when we arrived at daybreak, but oh my, will you look at that?

The trademark Liw-liwa cement blocks.

The trademark Liw-liwa cement blocks.

Those clouds, that rainbow, the lighting, and these shots! #outstanding

Breakfast of champion cuteness.

Brothers Frankie and Jerome sharing this sweet, mellow wave.

Brothers Frankie and Jerome sharing this sweet, mellow wave.

Me, enjoying a fun left. Photo by the sneaky sniper, Allen Aligam.

Me, enjoying a fun left. Photo by the sneaky sniper, Allen Aligam.

Last year, I broke my first surf board-- a candy-colored 8'0"-- during one unfortunate shore break in Liwa. This year, I'm on a 6'8" and feeling great. This is only my second south swell but I can already tell I'm going to love Zambales even more. :)

These photos were taken during the first afternoon of rain. We were spread out in the lineup, reading the sky like we were reading the waves. When rain started falling, everyone cheered. We splashed around and clapped and whistled: the south swell was officially here.

Another small victory I want to celebrate is Jeepsea's first time in the land of Z! We stacked her up and drove around break-hunting-- and we were greatly rewarded. I'm happy that we now have our own surf mobile. I've learned that surfing entails you to work not only when you're in the water, but most especially when you're out of it. Owning a car, just like surfing, is all about commitment. I remember all the tests of patience and the amount of saving (money, feelings, time) that went to this investment. Jeepsea's got a few more fixing up to do, and I hope that she returns the love we're giving her tenfold. 

All the sessions in this spot were golden. I even caught myself nodding in disbelief at how blessed we were during the three days we set up camp here. Liw-liwa was having a backwash problem, and just a barangay away were these perfectly shaped waves, breaking in breathtaking intervals. Thank you, surf gods, for smiling on us.

Slide the photos over to catch some of the action. :)

In this series: Jot, Tamara, Pareng Allan, Manoy Bazar, Aj "Souvlaki" Koh, Pareng Vince and Pareng DK. 

I am thankful to have friends who are such amazing surfers. Just watching them play assures me that I will never run out of inspiration.

In the photos above, Manoy (watch Manoy here) was telling me: "Angat pa!" So I dug my rail and p u s h e d my way to the top of the wave, until we trimmed in unison. Nice ka, Noy. Salamat!

This is a blurry screen grab of an utterly clear memory. I can't recall riding a wave faster than this one and that feeling has been on loop ever since. If I were to pick a favorite part from the epic weekend, it would be when I finally plugged the fear out of my system, and chased after the stoke I knew was just waiting to be claimed.

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No one inspires me to surf harder than this boy right here. I think Harold might have surfed the most during that trip, alternating sessions between the longboard and the shortboard. I am a stubborn student sometimes, insisting on my way instead of his. But I learn when I listen. Thanks, H. <3

And here is my favorite photo from the trip. :)

Thank you for having us, Arjun! Safe.

Thank you for having us, Arjun! Safe.

And I love it that my friends can cook! Inihaw na yellow fin tuna (Arjun and the boys), togue in special sauce (Panks), grilled pork chops (Harold), and Cebuano-style paksiw na isda (John2x).

And I love it that my friends can cook! Inihaw na yellow fin tuna (Arjun and the boys), togue in special sauce (Panks), grilled pork chops (Harold), and Cebuano-style paksiw na isda (John2x).

S t e a d y.

S t e a d y.

It started raining really hard and the surf conditions got tricky. Good thing Arjun took us in. (Now, watch Arjun here.) We helped ourselves to quality hammock time and cable TV.

It has only been a day back in the city and we're already getting the surf jitters, thinking of the next time we'll be on the road again. We hope to see more of our classmates in the lineup.

And don't forget to rainproof your gear. Sea you!