"The Good Just Keeps On Going"

This creative couple knows what it means to go for your dreams. Camille Pilar and Harold Crisostomo have transformed their lives to reach the goal of living by the sea. It’s a commitment they had to choose over and over again, constantly adjusting to the demands of the life they’ve chosen to lead. They’ve undergone a few incarnations, as teachers in the big bad metropolis, baristas at a small coffee shop, now as budding entrepreneurs alongside their careers as a writer and designer. Through it all: surf. 

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Their life in the small surf town of La Union is simple. “The south swell has begun so we wake up to rain in the morning. When it isn’t raining too hard, we walk to the beach to check the waves. If the surf looks promising, we hurry back and scuttle around the house, fixing breakfast, making coffee, checking the plants, and feeding the dogs. We surf and come back in time to prepare for lunch. After lunch is when we get settled in. There’s time to check emails and do some work. We play with our dogs. We run quick errands. We check the beach again and see if a sunset session is in order. If the surf is good, we go. If not, we hang out. We’re back home by dinner and we stay up late, depending on the workload. This is a typical day when it’s just the two of us. There are days when we have guests and the routine changes. Most days, it’s just trying to sneak in as much work around surfing and cleaning the house!”

Previously teachers in Manila, they found city life too stressful. “We spent so much time stuck in traffic, from Taft to Taguig to Kapitolyo. We would even stay out until it was past midnight just to avoid road congestion. We lacked sleep most of the time. Then, on the weekends, we would escape it all and surf. Come Sunday night, we drove back.” 

Surf, and shared escapes to the beach, brought to light the direction that the couple wanted to take in life. “We shared a goal. We wanted something simpler. We wanted to surf. It no longer made sense to live in Manila and exert so much time, money, and effort just to leave it every weekend.” Considering the risks they were taking and the resources wasted in shuttling back and forth between Manila and surf spots on the weekend, “it just didn’t add up anymore.” 

Continuing the simple life by the sea meant being flexible about how to sustain it financially, and working hard to open new doors. “We became open to any opportunity that came our way. We made use of our skills: I would write web content and various articles. Harold would design logos for establishments and make posters for events. I recently launched an online writing workshop with a good friend and we are looking at doing another run within the year. We’re not earning as much as we were in Manila, and there is no certainty whether the projects will keep coming, but somehow, we’re never not busy. We’re also working to put up our own business alongside reinforcing environmental causes. We’ll be busier this year and we’re really thankful for that!”

As always, leaving home meant having to go through the struggles of rebuilding it elsewhere. “We became distant from our family and friends, and when challenges arose, we were so far from our core support group. But we learned to build new connections and make new friends.” They consider the move and its difficulties in a positive light: “I see it as planting ourselves anew and we’ve only recently started growing new leaves. Soon, with enough care and compassion, we’ll get to flowering and bearing fruit.”

Sometimes the gift we give ourselves keeps on giving. For Camille and Harold, this is living the dream. “Everything changes when you live by the sea. It’s not an overwhelming change; rather, it is calm and nurturing. We’ve reconfigured our routines. We get more sun. We can exercise. We can play. For the first time in a long time, it really feels like we’re taking care of ourselves. We worry less. We love more. We become more mindful. We become more adaptable. And then we become better at helping others. We give more. We care more for the environment. And the best part is, there’s no turning back. Despite different trials, the good just keeps on going.”

Interview by Sabs Bengzon. Photos courtesy of Camille and Harold.