Because I’m currently freezing in my tiny sub-zero nook in the heart of the financial district trying to digest information from a migraine-inducing government report, I thought I’d write about 12 days ago.
Twelve days ago, I found myself on a bus to Aurora for that odd lifestyle assignment to cover a footwear launch. This is seriously jackpot in my book because my calendar is always filled with roundtable discussions on business and IT. Being assigned to do a story on a surf and yoga event organized by urban footwear brand Freewaters is pretty much something I thank my lucky stars for.
When people think of Aurora, surfing almost always comes to mind. The place, after all, is home to over 320 kilometers of coastline peppered with killer waves. Baler, the capital town where we were billeted, is known to be the birthplace of surfing in the Philippines, its massive swells having been discovered by the production crew of 1979 film classic “Apocalypse Now”. According to my best friend, Google, the crew left their surfboards with the locals, and thus Philippine surf culture came to be.
Being the third-time newbie-surfer that I am—I’ve never progressed beyond the beginner surf lesson spaced an average of three years apart—I decided to take on these intimidating swells our first afternoon in Sabang Beach.
Happy to report that the third time’s a charm for this journo, as I managed to make several rides all the way to the shore without falling off my very bright pink long board. Credit definitely goes to my instructor (that’s him on the far right of the photo below) who pushed me to keep at it, even after my many ungraceful falls. :D
Much as I’d like to say that was the highlight of my trip, it wasn’t.
Dawn the following day saw us making our way to several barangays in Casiguran, Aurora, one of the worst-hit areas by Typhoon Lando. Riding through the coastal town felt eerie in a way, especially after we saw how some of the town’s main structures succumbed to nature’s wrath.
Coconut trees, once among the main sources of livelihood, are still recovering.
We were there to meet with members of the Agta indigenous people community, the benefactors of Freewaters’ clean drinking water initiative in the Philippines. The company, founded by surfers who share a deep respect for the healing and meditative power of water, has been initiating programs that provide access to clean drinking water to communities from as far as Kenya and Haiti, and now to Casiguran, its most recent site.
We first went to Brgy. Dipontian, where we were welcomed with a dance performed by the children of the community. The moment Freewaters founder Martin Kim brought out his drone camera, all hell broke loose. The kids immediately rushed towards him, exclaiming with glee as he showed them how the drone camera worked. They were quite the adorable bunch.
Same thing happened in Dalugan beach (one of the most stunning beaches I’ve laid my eyes on!!!). While the grown-ups were listening to the organizers explain about the water filter systems they’d brought with them, the kids were all chasing after the drone.
More snaps from that day (because I’ve now reached the too-lazy-to-churn-out-words portion of the afternoon. And these stunning sights just really leave you speechless):
So, what were you doing 12 days ago? :D