Archive for apocalypse now

dude, where’s my (surf)board?!

Posted in artifacts, history, lifestyle, locales, nature, people, sports, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2009 by mijodo

de los santos family readies for the waves 

Well Dude, it might just be floating around at the beaches of Baler, Aurora.

Baler afterall is the Filipino surfers’ sacred ground. This is where the surfing action in the Philippines all started. If you are a movie trivia buff, you would know this was where some scenes of the graphic anti-war movie, Apocalypse Now of Francis Ford Coppola were taken in 1975. And apparently some people at the movie set had brought along their surfing boards and tested the waters of the Baler Bay which opens to the rest of the Pacific Ocean. After Coppola had packed up, the members of his team just left the boards to the appreciative local youths. Of course, the kids  just started to rock the waves since then.

From Genesis Bus terminal at Cubao, Quezon City, it is a grueling 8 hour bus ride that traverses northern provinces of Bulacan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija then goes a little bit more up north to Nueva Vizcaya and finally ends up at the eastern province of Aurora. In this travel, much of the roads are concreted and paved, but it is upon reaching Nueva Ecija’s Pantabangan area and Nueva Vizcaya where roads are rough and turns are tight. So just before reaching the destination, you are all shaken and stirred up. The sceneries which are undeniably beautiful and lyrical make up for the tiring bus ride. Definitely, you need to leave the driving to those who know very well the roads. And one more tip from experienced passengers: try to avoid the last trip of the day since if anything untoward  happens, no rescuing bus from the same company would pick you up.

Upon reaching Baler, just hire a trike to take you to Sabang Beach, popular to most surfers. There you are greeted by the sound of the Pacific Ocean’s roaring waves, expressing its power and ferocity. The robust incessant undulation of water can intimidate first time goers even during the relatively calm months of March and April when waves can only go as high as two feet. In other months, waves can get a lot bigger which would be more ideal for experienced surfers.

The shore at Sabang may not have the preferred pristine white sands, and may not have the commercial establishments which create panache to many tourists. Still you come to Baler primarily for the tides and waves which provide character to its beaches.

There are plenty of room accommodations in the area, particularly along Sabang Beach. Hometels are around 600 pesos per night with electric fans to cool you. But if you want to splurge, then Bahia Hotel is the right one for you. Airconditioning, cable television and even a terrace in this hotel will provide you all your urban needs in a resort setting.  Most popular to the backpacking surfers is Bay’s Inn where you can still get cheap rates. Yet you need to make reservations ahead for rooming during summer months, particularly during holy week as there can be a serious shortage when people come in droves. You may want to settle though in other hotels which do not have frontage of the bay, perhaps near the Kapitolyo, still in Baler.

Summer months would be the perfect time to learn the sport of surfing as the waves are smaller. In fact one young Englishman, Alex, fell in love with the place and has stayed in Baler after learning how to surf two summers ago. There are cool schools which are actually shacks, offering one-on-one tutorials to those eager to paddle through the waves, and hopefully would be able to balance themselves successfully in their surfing boards back to the shore. Groups of young college people and yuppies start to get their basic knowledge from men as young as 18 at a rate of P300 per hour inclusive of the surf board rent.  But of course if you have a relative for teacher, then it is for free. Joseph de los Santos, a professional lifeguard at Sabang Beach and a father to three daughters, had an early morning breakfast right at the beach to start teaching his kids and even his wife how to surf. “Gusto nila talaga matuto (they really want to learn),” he proudly explains.

But not all young people from Baler know how to surf. “There is not much of a pressure for everyone to learn,” Henry, a lifeguard too, mentions in a huddle with other surfers at their tower. Yet it is in Baler where there is the biggest surfing community in the Philippines. There are about a hundred people who can surf in this area alone. Probably, not only because it has an older history in terms of surfing but because Baler has a longer shoreline compared to other surfing areas in the country.

Qualified surfers in Baler are many times invited to other surfing areas in the Philippines to participate in heavily sponsored competitions where the top prize is as much as P50,000.00.  Just like other professional athletes, many surfers have their own corporations and companies funding them and providing surfing suits and accessories just to promote their brands. In a way, there is considerable amount of money and prestige that one can get when one goes seriously into this sport.

 And in Baler, it is at Cemento, near the fishing port where professionals compete and play, particularly during the Aurora Surfing Cup. From September to February when the Amihan wind patterns are consistent, waves at Cemento are spectacular enough for the adventurous kind to conquer. There, waves are what you usually get to see in magazines and movies. But of course there are other surfing spots, each with its own surfing qualities such as Lindy’s Point and Charlie’s Point which name has remained after it had been called as such in a major action sequence from the movie Apocalypse Now.

One basic and prime tip for those surfing is that the leash of the board should always be attached to the leg when in the sea. The leash is the lifeline for survival. Without attaching the leash to the leg, life is in danger and the scenario can be fatal as the current can bring you to dangerous places.

So Dude, I presume you forgot to attach the leash to your leg, and lost your surfboard somewhere because of the strong wave. And you are one lucky guy to survive it. 

“Yes, thanks for the info. But I think I have a bigger problem – Dude, where’s my boardshort?”

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