BORONGAN, Eastern Samar– Jay-r Esquivel of San Juan, La Union crystallized his place in history as the first-ever Philippine Surfing Championship Tour surfer to win both longboard and shortboard divisions of a leg in the tour. There was no other surfer quite like Esquivel who showed no handicap throughout the different rounds of competition. Who will follow in his footsteps? Next year’s tour will be an exciting attempt to find out.
Team La Union had a commanding influence over the men’s longboard division as all of the winners from the quarters to the finals were from the developed surf town of Urbiztondo. Not to be outdone in the shortboard division, Jomarie Ebueza also brought home an outstanding first-place finish in the Juniors round.
Team Siargao and Team Sorsogon also claimed epic wins in this year’s Surf in the City competition. John Mark Tokong posted the highest single-wave score, a scalding 9.25, for an aerial that seared its mark onto the Boulevard.
The Women’s Longboard Finals was the most exciting heat of the day as Ikit Agudo, Vea Estrellado, and Daisy Valdez each took turns leading before SEA Games silver medalist, Agudo of Siargao, had once again proven why her graceful yet powerful longboarding will be the legacy to inspire the future.
During the first few years of the PSCT, not a lot of surfers could execute drop-knee turns on a longboard with style and ease. This year, the drop-knee was a legitimate instrument for looking stylish while being functional, a combination that racked up points faster than a section could close out.
On the shortboard front, intricate aerial maneuvers became as commonplace as a cutback. Even the women have begun punting their way to podium finishes. It would bring much excitement to the tour to see who else can participate in a proper air show next year.
The 2019 Tour was also the first tour to put up not just one but two legs in the Visayas; the first being in Calicoan and the most recent one here in Borongan. This decision boosted the standings of goofy riders such as Esquivel because they were given a stage to perform dominantly on their frontside.
Our favorite feature of the Surf in the City leg was none other than the live webcast, a first for national surfing in the Philippines. Rupert Ambil, president of the Surfriders Club of Eastern Samar (SCES), and his media production team must take the credit for the mounting of this momentous feat.
Progression is the secret ingredient across the success of the national tour and our forward-thinking leaders must keep innovating to stay relevant. Perhaps it would not be too far-fetched to envision a future where more women will join the tour to, one day, bridge the gap in the cash prizes.
It takes a tour to make a champion because a champ must be comfortable surfing in a wide variety of breaks. One-trick ponies will not advance as far as the diversely skilled. Those aiming to place big next year should tour the country’s different surf spots, practice reading different waves, and build connections with other locals. Befriend beach breaks and barrels. Sponsors are out there; you just have to start looking.
Surfers who have also learned the fine difference that equipment makes on contrasting conditions have a clear advantage. Even just the kind of wax you use is important because cold rivermouth water renders most tropical wax useless– as experienced by several surfers here in Borongan.
Somewhere in between winning last year’s and this year’s title for Women’s Shortboard, Nilbie Blancada gave birth to her firstborn son. The onset of motherhood only pushed her to come back stronger than ever. John Mark Tokong also recently became a father and starting his own family has not hindered his drive to win. Daisy Valdez is also surfing for her family, which extends beyond her son and her daughter because she is also the mentor of her niece, Antoinette Valdez.
Just a week before leaving for Borongan, Esquivel’s father passed away. When the buzzer sounded during the Men’s Shortboard Finals, Jay-r Esquivel took a few solemn moments out in the lineup to expel both his grief and relief in what could only be prayer. His father would have been so proud.
We can glimpse what drives a surfer to surpass other contenders by looking at their life stories and how they respond to the struggles that come with them. Real champs don’t just focus on winning titles.
2019 Surf in the City Surf Competition Results:
Juniors Shortboard (Grade 2)
1st Place: Jomarie Ebueza (La Union)
2nd Place: Gabriel Lerog (Siargao)
Equal 3rd: Marbin Delamide and Lemar Delamide (Siargao)
Equal 5th: Noah Arkfeld and John Carlos Noguerra (Siargao)
Women’s Longboard (Grade 1)
1st Place: Ikit Agudo (Siargao)
2nd Place: Vea Estrellado (Sorsogon)
Equal 3rd: Daisy Valdez and Ashlee Lopez (La Union)
Equal 5th: Maricel Parajes (Siargao) and Antoinette Lopez (La Union)
Men’s Longboard (Grade 2)
1st Place: Jay-r Esquivel (La Union)
2nd Place: Benito Nerida (La Union)
Equal 3rd: Jomarie Ebueza and Marven Abat (La Union)
Equal 5th: Roger Casugay, Rico Dumaguin, Jefferson Dela Torre, and Warren Lopez (La Union)
Women’s Shortboard (Grade 2)
1st Place: Nilbie Blancada (Siargao)
2nd Place: Daisy Valdez (La Union)
Equal 3rd: Vea Estrellado (Sorsogon) and Nildie Blancada (Siargao)
Equal 5th: Edlyn Ermino (Sorsogon), Jolina Longos, Susan Escanilla, and Stephamie Espadero (Siargao)
Men’s Shortboard (Grade 2)
1st Place: Jay-r Esquivel (La Union)
2nd Place: John Mark Tokong (Siargao)
Equal 3rd: Piso Alcala (Siargao) and Jefferson Dela Torre (La Union/Baler)
Equal 5th: Neil Sanchez (Baler), Selvester Bactad (Zambales), Philmar Alipayo, and Christian Araquil (Siargao)
Best Local Surfers:
Marionil “Nano” Capacite – P5,000.00 cash prize
Jerand Aboy – P3,500.00 cash prize
Reckynalds Rosel – P3,500.00 cash prize
Certificates of appreciation were awarded to Tsuyoshi Takahashi and Timothy Edward Paddon for their valuable contributions to the development of local surfing.
2019 PSCT Grand Champions:
Juniors Shortboard – Gabriel Lerog (Siargao)
Women’s Longboard – Daisy Valdez (La Union)
Women’s Shortboard – Nilbie Blancada (Siargao)
Men’s Longboard – Jay-r Esquivel (La Union)
Men’s Shortboard – John Mark Tokong (Siargao)
After all of the points from the Siargao, Calicoan, La Union, and Borongan legs have been tallied, we arrived at the same set of title-holders as the 2018 Tour. Congratulations to these surfers for once again earning their stripes as our national surfers in the Philippine Team!
Wait for the updated points and rankings to be posted here.
Written by Camille Pilar | Photos by Gabs Batallones
About Surf in the City
The Surf in the City Festival is a PSCT-sanctioned event brought to you by the City Government of Borongan, the Surfriders Club of Eastern Samar (SCES), the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, and Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc.
The Philippine Surfing Championship Tour is a premier professional surfing competition where top surfers from all over the Philippines compete in multiple locations around the country, vying for a spot in the national surfing team.
Already on its third year, PSCT celebrates Filipino surfers, passionate fans, and dedicated partners that together grow the Philippine surfing community to what it is today and what it was envisioned to be.
PSCT exists to set the stage and act as a platform for professional surfing in the Philippines, promoting Filipino surfers as world-class athletes and uniting the surfing community and fans by sharing the story and adventure of Philippine surfing one tour at a time.