Philippine surfing writes history as the first ever Philippine Surfing Championship Tour (PSCT) recently concluded its first leg of the competition through the 19th National Siargao Cup.
With almost 200 surfers who registered from all over the Philippines, this was definitely the biggest number of participants any Philippine surfing competition had ever seen.
From the youngest competitor, 8 year-old Kaikai Alcala of Siargao to veteran professional surfer Jefferson Dela Torre from La Union and participants from Cantilan, Lanuza, Davao region and even Cagayan de Oro City – it would be an understatement to be stoked witnessing six days of nothing but premier surfing from top surfers all over the country.
Probably the most notable ones were those of the first timers – surfers who’ve never competed professionally before like professional skimboarder and four time skimboarding champion title holder, Sonny Boy Aporbo.
Small Town Roots
Hailing from a small yet beautiful coastal barangay in Mati City, Davao Oriental, Sonny Boy “Bayogyog” Aporbo grew up with the powerful Pacific Ocean as his playground. His childhood days would consist of accompanying his fisherman father to catch fish around in Mayo Bay and the nearby Pujada Bay; and seeing his mother sell the fish they caught.
“Bayogyog” is a nickname or endearment his parents gave him when he was young. When I asked what it meant, Bayogyog smiles and says that he doesn’t know anything else except that it means engkanto in the dialect.
Back in 2004, when he was six years old, an Australian visited Dahican and brought with him skimboards that he shaped himself. Bayogyog was one of the local kids that were taught to skim and as a parting gift, was given his very own skimboard.
“Do you remember the name of this Australian guy?” I asked. Smiling, Bayogyog said “I really don’t know his name”. He goes on saying that he may not remember the name but he never forgot him. Living by the beach, there wasn’t much else to do but play in it, soon enough Bayogyog kept practicing skimboarding which was also his form of play.
The Makings of a Skimboarding Champ
In October 2005, Bayogyog joined his first local skimboarding competition right in his home, Dahican. He bagged the championship despite his inexperience in joining competitions. Since then, Bayogyog kept joining skimboarding competitions to gain experience and also as a way support his family.
Soon enough, he was starting to place Dahican on a spotlight by winning 28 national skimboarding competitions to date, bagging the championship each time. Safe to say, he never lost placing in a competition. Despite this growing success and fame, Bayogyog remains very down-to-earth and would always smile and never fail to thank anybody who would congratulate and greet him around.
Invitations kept coming in and by 2012, Bayogyog was on his way to his first international skimboarding competition in Hong Kong. To everyone, including himself, he won as champion. In the succeeding years, 2013 in Malaysia and after a short break from 2014-2015 due to the lack of budget to participate.
Bayogyog again competed last year, 2016 in Singapore and again, in Malaysia, this time with the support of the local government of Mati City and Davao Oriental as well as support from friends and the community.
When asked what he felt about his accomplishments in skimboarding, Bayogyog says in “I feel weird that I’m being interviewed about these. Who am I? I’m really just a simple person.”
Walking along the white sand shores of Dahican, local kids would shout his name fondly and he would always respond with a smile or a jest. Tourism campaigns showcasing Dahican would never fail to have his photo performing an aerial or a kickflip with the blue waters of his home behind him.
From Professional Skimboarding to Competitive Surfing
With the introduction of surfing to Dahican around 10 years ago, Bayogyog also picked up the sport and has been surfing around his home break since then.
“Surfing may be different yet it’s also similar to skimboarding in a lot of ways. But the stoke the waves give you is the same.” he says when asked about surfing. “I love skimboarding and surfing the same. One isn’t favored less than the other. They’re equal to me.” Bayogyog replies to a question on which sport does he like more.
Competitive surfing definitely posed a lot of challenges for Bayogyog. Having been his first time surfing in Cloud 9, he was quite nervous during his heats. “There’s always a certain pressure during the heats in the competition. It was nerve-wracking.”, he says. “But I still survived up until round 5!”
With skills honed by surfing finless with the skimboards, Bayogyog was able to make it up until round 5 in the recently concluded 19th Siargao National Surfing Cup. Pulling off impressive floaters during the competition and on his free surfing in Cloud 9, his first foray into competitive surfing truly made this year memorable.
“I never expected to get in round 5. I never really hoped to get in the semis but I am so happy that I made it. This is my first time and words can’t really explain the joy I feel just to be able to be part of this” says Bayogyog. “The good thing is now I know that I need to practice and work even harder for the next legs of the PSCT. I’m so thankful to everybody who supported, without them I don’t think I’ll be here.”
The warm welcome and hospitality of the Siargao locals and the never-ending quality waves that you can get in the island truly lived up to its name as a paradise, Bayogyog recalls. “I’m just so happy to be part of this and so thankful to PSCT for creating this system where surfers all over the country can compete and be challenged to become better.”
Patterned after the World Surf League, the PSCT is the country’s first-ever and only professional surfing tournament where surfers from all over the Philippines will gather and tour around different surf spots to earn points and battle for a spot in the national ranking.
More than competition, PSCT hopes to unite surfers from Luzon to Mindanao and promote a sense of “ohana” in the Filipino surfing community. Only through working together can we make the dream of making world champions a reality.
Visit www.PSCtour.com to know more about the Philippine Surfing Championship Tour.
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