Waveriders from Baler and Siargao defied the odds and came up with upset victories as they topped the recent 15th Surfing Festival at the Doot Poktoy Surfing Paradise in Lanuza, Surigao del Sur.
Nineteen-year old Neil Sanchez of Baler delivered the biggest surprise by topping the Men’s Shortboard Open (Grade 2). Sanchez, who is just in his second national tournament, walked away with the PhP80,000 grand cash prize.
He edged Philmar Alipayo of Siargao, a grizzled veteran of various national and international cups, who settled for second place. Jay- R Esquivel of La Union and PJ Alipayo of Siargao shared third place.
Longboard Men’s Open (Grade 1), newcomer Mark Aguila of Baler also broke into the winner’s circle to grab top honors and the PhP50,000 prize. Homegrown Loinex Ruina showed his mastery of Lanuza’s waves as he bagged second place, followed by La Union’s Benito Nerida and Jeff dela Torre who were tied at third.
In the women’s category, surfers from Siargao dominated the field with Nilbie Blancada, regarded as the top Filipina surfer, leading the charge in the Women’s Shortboard Open (Grade 1). Fresh from her stint at an international cup in Bali, she duplicated last year’s winning feat.
Diane Nogalo, and Pinky Alipayo and Jolina Uriarte won second and third places, respectively.
Meanwhile, Daisy Valdez of La Union Women’s Longboard Open (Grade 1) made a successful defense of her first place win last year, edging perennial rival Ikit Agudo of Siargao.
Strengthening Siargao’s dominance were Aping Agudo and Maricel who shared third honors.
It was a shutout in the Grommet (under 16 Division) for Siargao as it bagged all the awards with Gabriel Lerog as champion, and Christian Araquiel and John Carlos Nogalo, as runners-up. Aram Laudes of Lanuza salvaged local pride as he shared third place finish.
The tourney is the second leg of the Philippine Surfing Cup Tournament, which goes around the country’s surfing circuit in search for national athletes who will compete in the Asian Games in 2018 and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Located at the mouth of Doot Poktoy River, this surf spot is noted for having one of the country’s longest right-hander waves on the Pacific seaboard.
According to Lanuza Mayor Salvacion Azarcon, the sporting event aims to make the town as the surfing paradise and sports adventure tourism spot in mainland Caraga region.
The weeklong surfing fest included fringe activities such an agri-aqua trade fair, coastal cleanups, evening concerts, beach dance contests, surfing clinics, and the Miss Surfing Lanuza pageant which selected Kylah Sanchez of Cebu City as the town’s ambassadress of goodwill and tourism.