Day 36: A Letter to Ezra
Many have yet to hear about you, who you were, and how you went. I met you through a picture, one that Craig Pulsifer took during one of your visits to Zambales. I had first wondered if anyone had Photoshopped your eyes because they were luminous and discerning, but most of all, kind. And a kind soul you are, as I believe your kindness lives on in the hearts of all the patient people quietly laboring to uplift your legacy. What a difficult task it must be to carry an entire island, make it known and make it loved, and yet you did all that by yourself when you were here.
You were the type to have dreams bigger than yourself and your energy was encouraging and magnetic. I remember the first wave I ever rode at Majestic Puraran and how you were instrumental to shattering my fear. I was an ultimate beginner then, a super kook, 9’0 and nosediving, and yet you told me you believed I could take at least one wave. Besides, you had already spent an hour searching the city of Virac for a surfboard suitable for me, as I had stupidly forgotten to bring my center fin. And so you found a trusty NSP (that had belonged to Bidge) and I was soon paddling along with the boys in that royal lineup.
It took me more than an hour to finally paddle for a wave, a towering blue one that you had spotted for me. I bet neither of us really knew if I would have made it then, but I did. Thank you for that. When I returned to Puraran just last year, I also felt myself surf stronger in a way that only faith could make. Your happy island was a place of transcendence; its waters made you rediscover what it meant to trust. Thank you, once again, for being part of that.
For cheering me on during the 1st Philippine Wahine Classic. For introducing us to the Tanael family. For taking us to the Maribina Falls from which we all jumped. For epic road trips with Harold, Seth, Mike and Ralph. For all the stories you have left behind. Thank you, Ezra, for being part of all of that.
And so another south swell begins without you, and more new surfers will begin to love surfing without ever meeting you. I can only hope they hear about your humble heroism. And I can only imagine what else your friendship could have formed, what else your heart could have taught and opened.
“Paddle ka lang, kaya mo yan!” These words still ring in my ear, in your voice.
And so we paddle on, Kuya Tisoi. Because we know you would have wanted to yourself.