December 8, 2018, Brgy. Sabang, Cabugao, Ilocos Sur— There was no better day to resume the Ilocos SurF National Surfing Championships as yesterday’s placid waters were replaced by a beautiful display of big, blue behemoths rolling into the beach. One of the judges, Manuel Melindo, was able to sneak in three good waves before he sat down at the judges’ table. “It was amazing,” grinned Melindo, and the mood was set for a swell to remember here in Cabugao.
A fine day for a surf comp
The Junior Shortboard Division— exclusive to surfers between 12-17 years old— was out in the water first and the grommets faced what could have been the most challenging wave they’ve surfed so far. Of all the young surfers out in such epic conditions, Jomarie Ebueza of La Union caught the eye of the judges with his refined turns and wave selection. He posted the best single wave score (6.00) and the best total heat score (11.00) during Round 1.
The contest had to run as many heats as possible in such contest-worthy waves so the Men’s Shortboard Open commenced right after the Juniors. After 3 rounds, the competition was whittled down to the last 16 spots. Emotions ran high as early as Round 1, Heat 1 when Cabugao local Dexter Imperio snapped his board in half after taking off on a screamer, dashing his chances of entering the next round.
It was the ‘Battle of the First Big Turns’ as each contender opened their rides with heavy hacks and speedy gouges across the wave face. But it was an unexpected cover-up by local surf pioneer Ronald “Kido” Cabasug, whom the surf break was named after, that drew the loudest cheers. The crowd was pleased to see Kido wearing the contest jersey, impressing upon the visitors the sheer mastery of his wave, and showing no signs of being tamed by age.
By 9 a.m., more water had filled in the break to pump more power into the waves. This made Kido’s Point’s pounding second section officially dangerous. Local knowledge continued to prevail as Mark Jaylord Sarabia delivered huge scores throughout his heats to the delight of the hometown crowd.
It was Zambales vs. La Union in Round 2, Heat 2 as some of La Union’s finest surfers, Roger Casugay and Jhenard Fernandez, faced off with Z-boys John Louie “Pogi” Fariñas and Selvester Bactad. Scores were close throughout the heat but in the end, it was the boys from Pundaquit, Zambales who snatched the chance to move on to the next round.
After numerous situation changes, no-shows, and major upsets, the top heat scores of Round 2 were posted by Baler local Jerick Peñaredondo (9.94) and Mike Canon (9.40) from Catangnan, Siargao.
The battle of the best
Round 3 was a battleground suited for the best of the best as the wind scratched through the surface of the waves that had only grown bigger since the morning. In Heat 3 of the third round, Jay-r Esquivel from La Union and PJ Alipayo from Siargao displayed some of the best backhand surfing in the Philippines but it was Esquivel who prevailed while PJ Alipayo lost to Reylan Figuron’s powerful frontside attack.
The shifting current made the paddle back to the lineup stretch on even longer and yet the PSCT’s seasoned competitors still managed to make it look easy. Neil Sanchez, the pride of Baler, showed utmost control in the most challenging of conditions and showed the rest how to hang on to the lead and come out on top. In the next heat, Rodel Patawi from Mati, Davao threw back-to-back knock-out waves that made him win over defending champion Philmar Alipayo, who ended up in second place.
Crowd-favorite John Mark Tokong was an unstoppable force and he posted the highest total heat score of the day at 12.10 while Piso Alcala stamped down a 6.50, the highest single-scoring wave of the day, as soon as the buzzer sounded off. Tokong and Alcala are currently tied at the top spot in the PSCT Men’s Shortboard rankings.
To borrow words from the official commentary of Tim Paddon of Fat Lips Surf Shop, the competitors today were surfing “like they were looking for a sponsorship.” If they could keep up with Kido’s Point the way they did today, they might just get one.
After running a total of 25 heats or 500 hours of high-caliber Filipino surfing, we have reached the end of another unforgettable day in the Philippine Surfing Championship Tour. We’re bracing ourselves as we face more emotionally driven heats in perfect conditions at Kido’s Point tomorrow morning. Call time is at 6 a.m.
About the Ilocos SurF National Surfing Championships
The Ilocos SurF National Surfing Championships is the third and final stop of this year’s tour. This is made possible through the support of Ilocos Sur District 1 representative, Congressman Ronald Singson, who is also a businessman, a concert producer, and more recently, an avid surfer as well.
The Ilocos SurF National Surfing Championships is supported by the following sponsors and media partners: The Municipality of Cabugao, Gwapitos, Fat Lips Surfshop, Kudo Surf, Sky Jet Air (Official Airline Partner), ANC-X, My Life On Board, ABS CBN Sports + Action, FluidSurf, Marajaw Surf Company, INQPop, People’s Television Network, Inquirer.net, Be Siargao, Blunt Magazine, Phenom Fitness, and CNN Philippines.
The Philippine Surfing Championship Tour (PSCT) is the 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 second year, the PSCT celebrates the Filipino surfers, passionate fans, and dedicated partners that together grow the Philippine surfing community to what it is today and what it’s 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, drama, and adventure of Philippine surfing one tour at a time.