Sabang Beach, Baler, Philippines – October 8, 2013 – The Surf Institute (TSI) successfully organized and launched The 1st STOKEDinc Philippine Wahine Classic, a pioneering tradition in celebration of the Filipina Surfergirl, on a festive Oct. 5-6 weekend at the iconic Aliya Surf Resort in Baler. This girls-only event, a first-of-its-kind in the Philippines and brainchild of The Surf Institute’s founder, Carla Rowland, saw hundreds of surfer girls from the rapidly-growing Filipina surfing community show grace, style, and some ridiculously fun wipeouts in an All-Girls surf competition. A Girls-Only FREE Surf Lessons campaign, ran by Surfing Philippines and GoSurPH!, saw almost a hundred newbie wahines ride the Pacific Ocean swell, in this surf town made famous by the award-winning film Apocalypse Now.
The Philippine Wahine Classic is the result of Carla Rowland’s vision to empower Filipina surfers and is the first to unite and highlight Filipina lady sliders of all abilities. Sponsored by the Philippines’ pioneer action sports brand and retailer, STOKEDinc, this inaugural event showcased some of the best female surfers currently in the Philippines, as well as those quickly coming up the ranks. “We were honored to have been asked by Carla Rowland to be part of this event,” says STOKEDinc Managing Director JV Borromeo, “and we’re even more stoked for the lucky ladies who’ll get to win a couple of world class Zamora surfboards, shaped by the California-based Filipino shaper Ian Zamora. Our Stoked Girls will, without a doubt, articulate their love of life, the beach, the seas, and the ocean riding these beautiful surfboards fluently.”
Having spent many years herself in competition, Rowland found it disheartening and eventually put herself on the other side of the judges’ table. “I’ve spent a number of years working behind the scenes in contests, learning what it takes to put on a really good event. This was my opportunity to put all that practice to the test! I think I passed!”
Filipinas from all over the country who came to participate in this maiden occasion experienced fun 2 to 5 foot surf with some bigger sets witnessed on Saturday. The ladies battled it out in four-woman heats, in four divisions: Malihini (novice) Shortboard, Malihini (novice) Longboard, Open Longboard, and Open Shortboard. Malihini Shortboard finalist, Kimpot Ritual, expressed in a note to Rowland after the event, “Thank you so much for the happiest weekend ever here in Baler… It was a memorable experience for me and to all the other wahines who participated… Super thank you!”
After the awards ceremony, Rowland had a moment to reflect on the weekend. “It was really amazing to see all these women come together to partake in this special event,” she said of her first spearheaded production. “I am just so pleased with the turnout and to see all the happy faces… Well, it just makes me feel like I’ve definitely done something right!”
It was no surprise that Filipina powerhouse, Daisy Valdez from La Union, took both open divisions, securing herself not one, but two surfboards handcrafted by Filipino-born, California-raised, Ian Zamora, of Zamora Surfboards. The Malihini shortboard division saw controlled maneuvering from famous travel blogger Lois Yasay (www.wearesolesisters.com), who took the top place in that division, and smooth transitions from Malihini Longboard champion, Melai Karaan of La Union; both of which won their own personal surf training devices from NoHo Surf. Special awards were given to local girl, Zhainaday Tena of Baler, for scoring the best wave of the weekend in her open shortboard round 1 heat where she averaged a 6.5. Jam Choa of Venezuela City received the Wahine of the Weekend award for her positive spirit and Baler local, SweetLyka De La Torre was honored with the Mags Martin Memorial Award for her exemplary display of risk-taking and tenacity. Last, but certainly not least, Mitch Sayoc of Quezon City, a Malihini Longboard finalist, secured the coveted Worst Wipeout award for her near decapitation of her own head in one of her early round heats.
Alongside the competition, the weekend was host to Surfing Philippines GoSurPH! initiative where people received free surf lessons from local instructors. Surfing Philippines co-founder, Gerard Sison and GoSurPH! Campaign Director Joncy Sumulong were all smiles welcoming all the participants. “Seeing all the girls totally stoked on catching their first wave gets us totally amped to take our GoSurPH! campaign to many more destinations, and giving many more free surf lessons,” says Gerard Sison, “the spirit of surfing is really for everyone.”
Aliya Surf Resort owner Roy Angara, affectionately called The Fresh Prince of Baler, has played a vital role in the Baler community and has been involved in the surf scene there for many years. “This was one of the best competitions we have seen here at Aliya. Everything went so smoothly and all the competitors really enjoyed themselves. We can’t wait to do it again!”