Twenty-seven-year-old Luke Landrigan, the poster boy of Philippine surfing and hometown bet, rode the waves with grace and skill, impressing the international panel judges, to clinch the top prize in the national longboard surfing competition called Global Surf Industries and Nike 6.0 Longboard Pro Invitational, organized by Aloha Boardsports, in Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union, on Nov. 29, 2009.
The three-day event drew in 32 competitors from all over the country as well as surfing enthusiasts and excursionists taking advantage of the long weekend and the proximity of the surfing area to the capital Manila.
Born in Australia, Landrigan grew up in the Philippines since his father set up a resort in La Union in northern Luzon. Since childhood, he has been surfing, body boarding first and eventually longboarding. With his good looks and the rise of the popularity of surfing, Landrigan is getting noticed, landing him in pages of magazines. Prior to the Aloha Boardsports tilt, he has competed at the Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia, in 2008, winning a silver medal in the longboard division and bronze medal in the team surfing division.
Coming in second place was Marvin Abat, only 17 and also a La Union native. Landrigan took home a cash prize of P100,000 while Abat was awarded P50,000.
The other competitors included Tangjun Fietas, Tsuyoshi Takahashi, Anthony Leubben, Ian Saguan, Rommel Rojo, Junior Ventura, Ronnie Esquivel, Ibrahim Gandawali, Arnel Hermosura, Jomar Ebueza, Jesse Ebueza, Anthony Valdez, Omar Gandawali, Chris Par, Argie Hugo, Lemon Dines, Mickey Boy Merida, Mike Oida, Chris Watkins, Lui Tortuya, Buji Libarnes, Saddam Faraon, JP Sarmiento, Jong Magsanoc, Noel Mendoza, Ali Gandawali, Bjorn Velasco, Kim Honasan, Ejay Ventura, Benito Nerida, Jeff dela Torre and Kiddo Cosio.The competition was held at Mona Lisa Point, in front of Little Surfmaid Resort, where the contestants, judges and officials were billeted. Competitors were trimmed down through a series of heats with Landrigan, Abat, Dela Torre, Nerida, Takahashi, Valdez, Ebueza and Hermosura landing in the quarter finals. Nerida, Dela Torre, Landrigan and Abat emerged in the semifinals, the latter two battling it out for 30 minutes on four to five foot waves for the championship.
“We have seen some amazing local surfing talent and this exclusive competition was the perfect venue for them to display their skills and gain extremely valuable competition experience,” said Freddy Gonzalez , the president of Aloha Boardsports, which mounted the event for the second time now.
Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union
He added: “For surfing fans, it was also a great excuse for hanging out on the sand and witnessing some intensity in the water. Good weather, great swells and the growing interest for this growing sport all made this a success.”
Aloha Boardsports, a local distributor of action sports apparel, hardware and accessories brands, has made the competition into a sort of mini festival with parties and other activities. There were free surfing lessons for the media people, and a concert featuring Crowjane and fire dancers and party for all. The awarding was highlighted by games and a raffle to benefit the victims of the typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, which ravaged many parts of Luzon late September.
The competition further promoted the province of La Union as a surfing destination. Though the Philippines has numerous surfing spots such as the famous Siargao Island of Surigao del Norte, Baler of Aurora and Daet of Camarines Norte, La Union’s Urbiztondo Beach in the town of San Juan is the most accessible.
The town, just after the capital San Fernando City, is a five-hour ride north of Manila, and the beach is just off the main highway. The stretch is now studded with several resorts. Local surfers offer surfing lessons year round. Urbiztondo Beach itself is friendly to non-surfers. Those wanting to try surfing, this is it. Every year, the local government and the Department of Tourism organizes the La Union Surfing Break late October to early November to entice non-surfers especially students on their school break to get into surfing. The event also promotes the place, bringing in vitality to the province’s tourism industry.
Urbiztondo has long been attracting foreign surfers, particularly 62-year-old Japanese Kazuo Akinaga, who has been staying in Urbiztondo for more than 20 years now and is responsible for introducing surfing to the area. He taught the local boys to surf and then advised them to teach surfing for income. Now, La Union is producing surfing champions.
Mona Lisa Point in Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan, La Union
Little Surfmaid Hotel
For more information on Aloha Boardsports, log on to www.alohaboardsports.com.