PitPit Alipayo nabs Billabong Grommet title in Philippines

Billabong Grom Comp Philippines

San Juan town, La Union Province
16 - 18 December 2009

PitPit Alipayo captures Philippine top grom title at the 2009 Billabong Grommet Competition in La Union

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 19 December, 2009 : - La Union, Philippines -- Under consistent 3-4 foot sets rolling into the Mona Lisa Point in La Union, 16-year old Siargao Island local boy PitPit Alipayo threw together an impressive combination of floaters and backside hacks thus successfully recapturing the Philippine top grom title at the 3rd Annual Billabong Grommet Competition, a surf tournament he won two years ago on its inaugural year.

It was an all-star final as PitPit faced off with cousin Paul John Alipayo, defending champion Jay-R Esquivel of La Union, and Lanuza ace Azur Laudes, assuring the spectators and surf fans an exciting finale. At the end of the day, it was PitPit’s tactical composition of floaters landed with precision connecting into spraying backside cutbacks that won him the distinction of being the country’s finest young surfer.

“I really remembered Head Judge Marco Villareal’s briefing before we paddled out for the final,” says PitPit Alipayo, “he reminded us that the judges were looking at speed, control, power, manoeuvres, and combos. So I knew I had to focus on that, especially the combos! Also, when I found out that the winner would get to go to Occy’s Billabong Grom Comp in Malaysia (January 2010), I was very excited to win, especially cause it’s my last year as a grom!”

All the groms were stoked with the awesome conditions the final day had to offer. “Man, I was really feeling so positive and just this happiness that I can’t explain just being in the water,” exclaims PiPit, “especially when I got that second wave where I nailed the floater in the critical section and landed it just right.” PitPit continues, “ you know, this event Billabong put together is so important for us groms, it’s really a big help for us. It makes us step up! I wanna thank Billabong for giving us this big opportunity every year. I wanna thank my sponsor Aloha boardsports for helping me a lot too.”

It was a tightly fought all goofy-footer final, especially with his cousin Paul John Alipayo drawing loud cheers from the crowd after heaving serious spray with a powerful backside attack. “During the semifinal, the waves seemed better, more glassy, I was able to do more tricks,” reveals Paul John, “but the waves were a little rough during the final. It was windy, and I didn’t make that many attempts. But this was still a great comp, and it’s really cool that Billabong puts this together for us groms!”

The competition had earlier been marred by a flat spell forcing organisers to extend the waiting period a few more days. “The waves just weren’t happening at all,” says Competition Director Luke Landrigan of Billabong Asia’s surf team, “but we weren’t gonna let that stop us. This annual Billabong grom comp is huge for the kids. It’s their one chance every year to show their stuff. So we knew we had to make it happen.” Luke laughs, “most exciting of all, PitPit gets to show Occy his sweet smile in Malaysia.”

“It was definitely worth the extension,” Luke continues, “with solid conditions on the final day, the groms put on an awesome show for all of us. I bet they can even win the men’s open comp,” Luke beams with pride.

“Luke came up with the idea of an annual grom comp for the Philippines, and what a great tradition it’s been, “ says JV Borromeo, Stoked Inc President and Billabong’s partner in the Philippines. “From the very first year, we had all out support from Billabong and Peter Thew (Billabong Asia Brand Manager). Luke’s also been amazing with getting the kids together from Siargao, Lanuza, Baler, La Union, Zambales, and all other parts of the country for this annual showdown. It's a big production, a little crazy at times, but well worth it. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!”

Witnessing the improvement and progression in the young surfers' skills, the future looks bright for Philippine surfing. “The groms really showed a lot of patience and maturity this year with their surfing, especially with the longer waiting period,” says head judge Marco Villareal. “This time we explained clearly how they were to be judged, and exactly what we were looking for. So they showed a lot of technical knowledge and really sick progressive surfing. Above all, we saw some crazy pre-teen kids who attacked this swell with insane tricks. That’s the future and we can't wait to see more of this wicked talent again!”

The 3rd Annual Billabong Grommet Competition is sponsored by: Billabong, Stoked Inc., The Billabong Surf School (La Union), The San Juan Surf Resort, Partas Bus Lines, Lola Nanny’s Surf Resort, The Little Surf Maid, The La Union Surf Club, Fox Clothing, MyPhone Philippines, Loaded Skateboards, Jooshi Surf, Photos by Angel Villanueva, Green Zinc Clean Shores

Champion: PitPit Alipayo
2nd Place: Paul John Alipayo
3rd Place: Jay-R Esquivel
4th Place: Azur Laudes


Gov’t to award 25 energy deals

AFTER awarding close to a hundred contracts over the last two months, the Department of Energy plans to give another batch of renewable energy contracts within the week to fast-track the development of the sector.
In a phone interview, Assistant Energy Secretary Mario Marasigan said the government’s target was to award a minimum of 25 contracts by Nov. 26. He noted, however, that this figure was still preliminary since some of the applications were still being evaluated.
The final number of contracts to be awarded will be known early this week, he said.
Among the companies being evaluated for a service contract for wind included NorthPoint Wind Power Development Corp. with its proposed project in Aparri, Cagayan; First MaxPower International Corp. for three projects in Cagayan (Claveria, Sanchez Mira, Gonzaga) and one in Pulupandan, Negros Occidental, and Northern Luzon UPC Asia Corp. for a 30-MW project in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte.
The Lopez-led Energy Development Corp. has six applications for its proposed wind power projects in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte; Taytay, Palawan; Mahinog, Camiguin, and three in Surigao del Norte (Dinagat Island, Siargao Parcel 1, and Siargao Parcel 2).
However, a government source said that EDC has yet to complete the requirements for five of its applications.
For biomass, three firms are awaiting the approval from the DOE, namely Asea One Power Corp., Biscom Inc. and Hacienda Bioenergy Inc. (Inquirer)


.:: History of Burgos ::.

On the Northeastern portion of Siargao Island, facing the vast Pacific Ocean, lies the small town of Burgos, Siargao.

It has six barangays such as Poblacion 1, Poblacion 2, Baybay, Bitaug, Matin-ao and San Mateo.When the Spaniards came, they lived as a group in Unidad, a Sitio.

Afterwards, it was renamed Barangay Burgos in 1925 during the American regime with the seat of Municipal Government of Numancia now Del Carmen. As Sapao became a district town 1955, Burgos apllied for a township status with the assistance of Congressman Reynaldo Honrado who requested President Diosdado Macapagal to approve it. His Excellency issued Executive Order No. 293, dated November 29, 1965, converting barangay Burgos into a Municipality.

Unfortunately, a Supreme Court injunction was filed by former Senator Emmanuel Pelaez, regarding the 77 newly created towns in the whole country. It terminated as a town on February 17, 1966, lasting only two and a half months.

The dreams and sacrifices of the residents were finally redeemed when President Marcos through the efforts of the dynamic and political kingpin Congressman Constantino H. Navarro Sr., signed into law RA 5093 on July 17, 1967 which created Burgos into a seventh class municipality.

source:1970 Souvenir Program of Philippine Public Schools Inter-scholastic Athletic Association Meet (PPSIAA)


.:: History of Dapa ::.

The Municipality of Dapa lies south of Siargao Island. It is 36 nautical miles east of Surigao, the capital of Surigao del Norte. A few nautical miles of the town is the famous Philippine Deep.

The early villages along its seacoast are the barrios of Cambas-ac, Union and Dolores.

Sometime in the early part of the last century of the Spanish regime, Moro piracy was rampant in the Southeast coast of Mindanao. Pirates occasionally swooped down on the coastal village of Siargao Island and left behind them destruction and death. Natives were often taken as captives and slaves.

Due to frequent raids, the villagers abandoned their homes and sought haven in Taghaligui (now Dapa) which was then a lush timberland and protected from the shore with a thick formation of tall mangroves.

From their vantage position, it was then easy for them to run for cover whenever there was an approaching enemy attack. In taking cover, they usually lay prone on the ground (hapa') behind the huge tree trunks.

Thus Dapa, corrupted from the vernacular word hapa, was adopted by the natives as the permanent name of their settlement in lieu of Taghaligui to constantly remind them of those vicious moro raids.

Source:1970 Souvenir Program of Philippine Public Schools Inter-scholastic Athletic Association Meet (PPSIAA)

Del Carmen

.:: History of Del Carmen ::.

Numancia, now Del Carmen, was founded in year 1600, almost a century after Magellan discover the Philippines on March 16, 1521 .The patron saint is the Lady of Carmen and is celebrated every 16th of July. The name Numancia was introduced by the Spanish priest who hailed from Numancia , Spain, which was then a very progressive town in the Andalucian plain.
Numancia was the headquarters of the diocese of Eastern Mindanao from Surigao up to Mati. It is the site of the oldest religious establishment and had for its relics the Spanish built water tank of limestone that is one meter thick.

Another relic that could be found in the place is the watchtower at barrio San Fernando, primarily used for sighting Moro pirates. The town of Numancia was, at the time of San Fernando, the subject of constant raid of the place by the moros causing the religious fathers to flee to Cacob at Dagsungan, not Roxas. The vast plain between barrio Janoyaon and barrio Roxas was the second site of the Municipality of Numancia. But there, transportation of goods was hard. So, the fathers decided to get nearer the present site.

This was the place of the legend about the very powerful bell that was dumped in one of the lakes (vito) at Haoyon now Cancohoy rose. It was said that this bell was made of pure silver and that its sound could be heard even up to Bucas Grande Island, thereby (ironically) inviting the Moro pirates to come and pillage the people using the sound of the bell as their guide. The fathers again decided to transfer to Campohag for expansion and for better security from the Moro.

According to the old folks, the entwining river course of the present townsite discouraged the Moro pirate because they could not locate the town anymore.In 1920, at the assumption of Francisco Alburo as town president, Numancia territory comprised one half of Bucas Grande with the barrios of Pamosaingan, Sta. Cruz and Hinundayan, in Siargao Island. Beginning from Barrio Bitoon as boundary, between Dapa and Numancia, up to barrios Tuburan, Quezon, Langdahan (now Sta. Paz), straight to Binoni Point as boundary between Numancia and Pilar, and all lands extending North of this line now comprising the new municipalities of Sapao, Burgos and San Isidro, were also included.

Source:1970 Souvenir Program of Philippine Public Schools Inter-scholastic Athletic Association Meet (PPSIAA)

Gen. Luna

.:: History of Gen. Luna ::.

The historical Origin of this municipality dates back to the time when it was still a Barrio called Cabuntog. During the early Spanish era this barrio had a church bell that was so big that whenever it was rang, it could be heard as far as the Mindanao mainland. The loud ringing sound often caused more pirates from Mindanao to come to the barrio and raid it.

The inhabitants fearing the repeated depredations of the marauders in the barrio finally decided to throw or drop (buntog) the bell into the Campuhong River. Hence, Cabuntog after the words Campuhong and Buntog.

Although Cabuntog was already a municipality in the Spanish regime, it was during the American Administration that it was formally organized into the municipality of General Luna, its present name. It was inaugurated on August 1, 1929.

Before typhoon "Atring" hit Siargao Island in April 1969. General Luna was the biggest copra producer in the province of Surigao, but after about 50% of its coconut plantation were blown down by the typhoon, its copra production dipped considerably forcing the farmers to plant short-term crops to augment their income.


.:: History of Pilar ::.

The Municipality of Pilar was created on October 28, 1953 by an Executive Order. She was formerly a barrio of the municipality of Dapa.

The town is situated at the eastern sea-coast of the island of Siargao on the side of a small gulf directly facing the vast Pacific Ocean, and approxiamtely 200 nautical miles from the Philippine Deep.

She has an ideal seaport where commercial vessels plying from mostly Cebu and the capital town of Surigao could safely dock on either of two concrete wharves.

Source:1970 Souvenir Program of Philippine Public Schools Inter-scholastic Athletic Association Meet (PPSIAA)

San Benito

.:: History of San Benito ::.

It was said that during the Spanish Regime, a group of Jesuit missionaries happed to be assigned at Sapao, now called the Municipality of Sta. Munica. They were fascinated with the vast array of blooming Talisay Tress in the place where the Municipality of San benito presently stands. Theire enachanment made them to name the place "Talisay". After exploring the place and observing the cultural behavior of the people, a chapel was built bearing the relic of Saint Benedict. After a couple of years. Talisay was changed to San benito in honor of Saint Benedict, its patron saint.

San Benito became a civil barrio of Sapao. When Sapao was reverted to a barrio by virtue of an executive order of the Military Governor, San Benito was then ceded to Numancia, now Del Carmen, and became its largest barangay. It was Congressman Constantino C. Navarro, Sr. , who proposed and sponsored a bill for the creation of San Benito as a new municipality. After complying with the formalities and legal requirements, on September 17, 1971, Republic Act No. 6396 came into being creating the Municipality of San Benito. Presently, the town is composed of six (6) barangays, namely: Talisay, Sta. Cruz, Nuevo Campo, san Juan, Bongdo and Maribojoc. The Municipality of San Benito is one of the richest fishing grounds in siargao Island fishing ranked second in terms of source of income of the people.

San Isidro

.:: History of San Isidro ::.

Little is known about the past and present of this municipality. Knowledgeable residents of the place like its municipal officials then were for some unknown reasons unable to provide the publicity committee with even a brief information on its history, its struggle for autonomy, its achievements and progress and its blueprints for development.Except for some bits of information gleaned from the office of the Governor then, not much can be written about San Isidro.

Before the municipality became a separate political subdivision in 1960, it was a part of Numancia. It was said that before the barrio was linked with a road to its mother town where the high school is, only very few succeeded in getting a secondary education.

In those days, the best and shortest way to reach Numancia was to travel on foot through a trail which wound through mountainous ranges and muddy terrain. With the construction of roads later and the opening of more s chools in those towns and barrios, San Isidro has not only filled the need for the adequate education of its inhabitants but has also improved its economic pace.From the scant information gathered, San Isidro was the fourth of the five new municipalities in Siargao to be created. It was categorized 7th class municipality.

Source:1970 Souvenir Program of Philippine Public Schools Inter-scholastic Athletic Association Meet (PPSIAA)


.:: History of Socorro ::.

In 1924, Socorro hit the limelight when a band of religious fanatic (colorum) rose in revolt against the government. A band of more than a thousand fanatics led by Francisco Bernales alias Lantayog, with bolos called "linatip," almost completely annihilated a platoon of soldiers sent to Socorro to drain the colorum sacred bathing pool called "tangke".

Only two members of the platoon who were aware of the colorum tactics were left alive. In retaliation, then Governor Pedro Coleto wired a report of the Socorro incident to GOVERNOR Leonard Wood, who sent troops under general Bowers, which in turn mercilessly shelled Socorro, where many of the colorums perished.

The survivors continued their plan to saeize the municipal and provincial governments of Surigao town. They are surprised and annihilated by constabulary forces in Tubod where now lies a common grave of sixty-four colorums. This was sufficient to disband the fanatic society.

When peace was restored its people continued to toil and apparently lived happily under a communal system of life.

The Island where Socorro is found belongs to Parcel IV of the Mineral Reservation. In 1960 Socorro became a separate entity from the mother municipality of Dapa. The grace, vibrancy and community sprit of its people continued to this day.

source:1970 Souvenir Program of Philippine Public Schools Inter-scholastic Athletic Association Meet (PPSIAA)

Sta. Monica

.:: History of Sta. Monica ::.

Sta. Monica is a 5th class municipality in the province of Surigao del Norte, Philippines. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 7,757 people in 1,459 households.

Santa Monica is politically subdivided into 11 barangays. Abad Santos, Alegria, Bailan, Garcia , Libertad, Mabini, Mabuhay (Pob.), Magsaysay, Rizal, T. Arlan (Pob.), Tangbo. 

Australia’s Garrett Parkes Wins Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational



Cloud 9 didn’t quite turn on the epic conditions seen for the opening rounds of the unique, specialty event, with finalists having to mix innovative, new-school manoeuvres with aerials, on-rail carves and barrel rides in rising 3-4ft (1-1.5 metre) waves.

Parkes, who stitched up the Gold Coast’s Joel Nantes (Coolangatta) in the quarters before taking down local Carlito Nogalo in the semis, made the most of the smaller conditions to bag two mid-range scores – a 5.50 and a 4.67- in the extended 35 minute final.

“It wasn’t exactly the real cloud 9, not many barrels,” said Parkes, who collected USD $7,500 for the win.

“But I made do with what I had. I managed to get through a few heats this morning and just keep it going through to the final. I’m stoked.”

Parkes, who was a standout throughout the entire event, said he wasn’t fazed entering the final after Rothman beat event favourite and former pipeline master Jamie O’Brien in semi one.

“I was trying not to think about,” he said.

“I just knew I had to get a few scores on the board. It got to the 5 or 6 minute mark and I got a little nervous. But he ended up coming in a minute early so I knew I had it.”

Rothman, who waited patiently for set waves, lacked rhythm in the high-stakes final, breaking two boards to finish with a 2.66 total to Parkes’ final winning tally of 10.17. Rothman surfing away with USD $ 4,500 for his efforts.

Semi final one was quite a show, with Rothman netting a last second victory over fellow Hawaiian O’Brien.

What started as a slow-scoring heat quickly transformed into a tight scoring affair with Rothman nailing the semi’s highest individual wave score – an 8.83 mid heat.

O’Brien hit back scoring a 8.40 and 6.50 to hold the lead briefly.

But with 10 seconds reaming, Rothman pulled into Cloud 9 drainer, weaving through the barrel before cleanly exiting to book a spot in the final with a 6.80.

Semi two was just as thrilling with Parkes besting local Philippines surfer Carlito Nogalo.

Parkes made the perfect start jagging an 8.00 on his first wave to setup victory – 13.33 to Nogalo’s 10.77.

The 2009 edition of the Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational was blessed with some of most amazing conditions seen for an event this year, with perfect 6-8 ft barrels rolling through the Cloud 9 line-up for the opening two days of competition.

Due to Siargao's proximity to the Philippine Deep, big swells from the Pacific Ocean roll in from the second deepest stretch of water in the world to create flawless, hollow barrelling waves.

The 2009 tournament will run from October 21-27,2009.

The tournament contest site is Siargao Island’s 'Cloud 9', a powerful, hollow right-hander that has been frequently compared to the renowned surf of Hawaii and Indonesia.

The Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational 2009 is proudly supported by Billabong, Province of Surigao Del Norte, Stoked Inc, Von Zipper sunglasses, Nixon, Kustom footwear, Friendster, and Sagana Resort.

source: billabong

The Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational is on hold

Saturday, 24 October 2009 13:39

The Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational was put on hold in the Philippines today with diminishing conditions on offer for the unique, specialty tube riding event.
After two days of big, flawless barrels, contest organisers opted to call a lay day with epic conditions expected to hit the region into next week.
Typhoon Lupit, which generated 2.0-2.5m hollow, barrelling waves for the opening two days of the event before tracking WNW towards the northern region of the Philippines, has turned ENE and is now likely to produce epic conditions towards the back end of the seven day waiting period.
The opening three rounds of competition has already turned out multiple 10 point rides with some of the most insane conditions seen for an event this year.
12 heats remain until the 2009 Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational champion is crowned.
Remaining round four heats include – Ht4 Sam Page (Aus) vs Makua Rothman (Haw), Ht5 Shinpei Horiguchi (JPN) vs Carlito Nagolo (Phl), Ht6 Gavin Beschen (Haw) vs Dionisio Espejon (Phl), Ht 7 Joel Nantes (Aus) vs Agus Frimento (Phl), Ht8 Rodolfo Alcala (Phl) and Garrett Parkes (Aus).
Due to Siargao's proximity to the Philippine Deep, big swells from the Pacific Ocean roll in from the second deepest stretch of water in the world to create flawless, hollow barrelling waves.

The 2009 tournament will run from October 21-27,2009.

The tournament contest site is Siargao Island’s 'Cloud 9', a powerful, hollow right-hander that has been frequently compared to the renowned surf of Hawaii and Indonesia. (Billabong)

Typhoon Lupit lighting up Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational


Jamie O’Brien : photo Jake White

Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational

Surfing Australia
Cloud 9 Siargao Island Philipines
21 - 27 October 2009

Typhoon Lupit Continues To Deliver Day Two of Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 22 October, 2009 : - - Typhoon Lupit continued to deliver the goods in the Philippines today, with big, perfect barrels on call for day two of the Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational. Cloud 9 provided the ideal forum for a world-class field of surfers with multiple 10 point rides going down in rising 2-2.5 metre (6-8ft) waves.

After rising to similar conditions to that of the opening day of completion, contest organisers decided to run rounds two and three, before completing the opening three heats of round four. Reigning champion Edito ‘Peso’ Alcala (Philippines) rose to the occasion netting a perfect 10 in his man-on-man round four heat against Australia’s Tai Graham.

Peso, who defeated 2007 event champion Wade Goodall (Caloundra, Qld, Aus) in last year’s final, used his local knowledge to get an edge over his international competitor, scoring a 10 and a 6.90 to defeat Graham’s 13.83 combined total. But it was the Jamie “O” show once more with the former pipeline master collecting his second perfect 10 for the event in his round four showdown against Australia’s Dru Adler (Palm Beach).

The freakish natural foot was in tune with the Cloud 9 line up from his opening wave collecting three near perfect rides (9.93, 9.70 and 10.0) to finish with a total of 19.93 (out of a possible 20) to oust Adler, who could only manage a 12.16 two-wave combined total.

Tai Graham : photo Jake White
Post heat, O’Brien said he was thrilled to bag another 10 point ride. “It looked so perfect in the beginning. I started pumping and was really deep, but the whole lip fell down and made this big foam ball. I came out a little off balance, but setup and got another barrel. It was so good.” O’Brien will now take on Peso in a highly-anticipated first quarterfinal.

New Zealand ace Jay Quinn (Gold Coast, formerly Gisborne) is also through to quarterfinal contention after disposing of fellow Gold Coaster Chris Bennetts (Main Beach, Qld, Aus). The talented surfer utilised superior tube riding skills en route to jagging a 9.23 and an 8.67 to best Bennetts – 17.90 to 12.87.

Quinn will take on the winner of Sam Page (Aus) vs Makua Rothman in quarterfinal two. Australian surfers feature heavily in round four, taking up 7 of the 16 spots. 12 heats remain until the 2009 Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational champion is crowned. Contest organisers will meet at 5.45 for a possible 6.00am start.

Remaining round four heats include – Ht4 Sam Page (Aus) vs Makua Rothman (Haw), Ht5 Shinpei Horiguchi (JPN) vs Carlito Nagolo (Phl), Ht6 Gavin Beschen (Haw) vs Dionisio Espejon (Phl), Ht 7 Joel Nantes (Aus) vs Agus Frimento (Phl), Ht8 Rodolfo Alcala (Phl) and Garrett Parkes (Aus).

Dale Richards : photo Jake White
Due to Siargao's proximity to the Philippine Deep, big swells from the Pacific Ocean roll in from the second deepest stretch of water in the world to create flawless, hollow barrelling waves. The 2009 tournament will run from October 21-27,2009.

The tournament contest site is Siargao Island’s 'Cloud 9', a powerful, hollow right-hander that has been frequently compared to the renowned surf of Hawaii and Indonesia.
The Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational 2009 is proudly supported by Billabong, Province of Surigao Del Norte, Stoked Inc, Von Zipper sunglasses, Nixon, Kustom footwear, Friendster, and Sagana Resort. (Globalsurfnews)

D-Day Looms for Surfers in Next Week's Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational in Philippines

D-DAY is looming for an international cast of surfers with the Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational in the Philippines less than a week away from starting.

'Cloud 9', a powerful, hollow right-hander located on Siargao Island will again be the focus of the global surfing community with entry confirmations from some of the world's hottest surfers including pipeline master Jamie O'Brien (Hawaii), 2007 runner-up Nick Vasicek (Coolangatta, Australia), 2006 champion Ryan Hipwood (Gold Coast, Australia), New Zealand's first ever World Champion surfer Jay Quinn (Gisborne, now Gold Coast, Aus) and Hawaiian surfing royalty Makua Rothman.

An invite to compete in the 2009 competition was made all the more attractive with USD $20,000 on the table and the allure of flawless, barrelling waves.

48 surfers from Hawaii, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa and 12 local wildcards will compete in a specialised format, which culminates in man-on-man heats from the quarterfinals.

Reigning champion Edito 'Peso' Alcala (Philippines), who rode barrel after perfect barrel to beat 2007 title holder Wade Goodall (Caloundra, Qld, Aus) in last year's final, will don a competition vest to defend his title.

Local ace Alcala, who learned to surf at the revered break, will again prove tough competition for his international riders after putting in plenty of practice at Cloud 9 in the past month.

"It's been pumping for weeks," said 20-year old Alcala.

"We've been experiencing plenty of typhoons that have created some great waves. Hopefully it'll continue into next week."

What separates the specialty event from standard competitive surfing is that invited contestants are involved in deciding what conditions they will surf in.

With only two full days required to finalise the competition and a seven-day competition window, organisers have the luxury to wait for ideal conditions in which to run the event during Cloud 9's prime swell period.

Due to Siargao's proximity to the Philippine Deep, big swells from the Pacific Ocean roll in from the second deepest stretch of water in the world to create flawless, hollow barrelling waves.

The 2009 tournament will run from October 21-27,2009.

The tournament contest site is Siargao Island's 'Cloud 9', a powerful, hollow right-hander that has been frequently compared to the renowned surf of Hawaii and Indonesia.

The Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational 2009 is proudly supported by Billabong, Province of Surigao Del Norte, Stoked Inc, Von Zipper sunglasses, Nixon, Kustom footwear, Friendster, and Sagana Resort.

source: billabong

Sports Tourism Destination: Philippines

October 3, 2009

Do you want to see the Philippines? Or do you want to experience the Philippines?

The Department of Tourism (DoT) has been promoting the country’s adventure and ecotourism destinations and activities as it aims to position the country as an exciting outdoor travel destination.

You do not have to be an expert athlete. You just have to be physically fit and to have that adventurous spirit to test the waters of adventure sports. Beginners may be given training or orientation before they undertake the activities. These adventure destinations challenge the body and offer an exhilarating escape from the day-to-day life.

1. Surfing in Siargao

What’s a chocolate bar got to do with surfing? Cloud 9 was coined by John Callahan when he found the wave by chance, naming it after the locally made chocolate bar. From the time his article on Siargao came out in Surfer Magazine in its March 1993 issue, the formerly obscure Siargao Island located in the province of Surigao del Norte became popular to surfers and tourists alike.

Callahan describes Cloud 9 as “a thick, pitching peak takeoff over a reef shelf followed by a hollow section and a clean exit into the channel or a pinching section, depending on swell direction. The wave works on typhoon season groundswell from two feet up to eight feet Hawaiian at peak high tide. On a clean easterly swell and offshore southwest wind, Cloud 9 can be mechanically perfect, with a guaranteed barrel on every wave.”
Hmmm. Cloud nine does sound surfi-licious!

2. Wakeboarding in Camarines Sur

Wakeboarding is a surface water sport developed from a combination of water skiing, snowboarding and surfing techniques. The Camarines Sur Watersports Complex or CWC is one of the only two cable parks in the country. It is called as such because a series of tower-connected mechanical cables pulls the rider around the water. Its 6-point cable ski system is designed for wakeboarding, wakeskating and waterskiing.

Since the completion of the cable park, beginner and professional wakeboarders and skiiers from all over the world have visited the CWC to compete or simply to have fun. The province owes its inclusion in the Top 5 destinations in the country to CWC. Camarines Sur ranks 4th next to Davao, Boracay and Cebu in attracting the biggest volume of visitors for the 1st quarter of 2009. The sport has indeed taken the province by waves.

3. Whitewater Rafting in Cagayan

In whitewater rafting, participants guide and paddle a raft through whitewater, or the river’s rapids. The sport’s popularity began to grow when it became part of the Olympic Games in the 1970s. In the Philippine setting, from the mid '80s to mid '90s, locals in Cagayan de Oro used inflated tire tubes, rafts made of bamboo and banana trunks. Nowadays, this sport has evolved into a major tourism draw in Cagayan de Oro.

Part of the thrill, excitement and challenges of rapids are sailing on different degrees of rough waters, paddling through areas with higher water volume and steeper descents and navigating a number of boulders and rocks. While you ride down the river, you’ll be looking at the scenery for the duration of your trip!

4. Canyoning in Cebu

Canyoning is a combination of several sports, such as walking, trekking, climbing, abseiling, rafting and swimming. For starters, the jump or descent is made from 8 meters while for the more experienced, the jump could be several waterfalls higher than 30 meters.

Cebu and its limestone mountains provide a scenic and suitable place for canyoning. Get active, feel the adrenaline rush and delight in its surrounding landscape. As the places for canyoning are situated in the densely forested mountain valleys, you will see and enjoy nature in its pure and raw form.

A piece of advice—once the abseiling has begun, there is no way back. You must complete the descent! As all mountaineers know, “going up is optional, coming down is mandatory.”

5. Volcano Climbing in Albay

Mayon Volcano is a highly active volcano. Climbing season for Mt. Mayon is restricted to the summer months of March to May because landslides are common during the rainy season. It is also advisable to contact the local Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology office before scheduling a climb for safety.

The Knife’s Edge or the level close to the summit is for intermediate to expert climbers. Camp 1 site is good for beginners planning on a day trek. Camp 1 is the base camp used by mountaineers before their final ascent. To reach the campsite at 780 meters above sea level, you’ll trek through different vegetation zones, from rich agricultural land to light Agoho Pine forest and thick giant fern forest.

Sure, there are many tourist destinations in the Philippines that are great for picture-taking and sightseeing. But don’t limit yourself to seeing the beauty behind the camera. Be active, get some action going and pump up that adrenaline rush. Participate in these adventure and nature sports.

The country’s 7,107 islands are teeming with nature’s gifts and activities to explore. By visiting these sports destinations and engaging in active outdoor recreations, you will not only see nature at its best but also experience it. (Manila Bulletin)

Riding the waves

Thursday, 27 August 2009

For many people, hearing the word Siargao conjures images of roaring waves and surfboards under the bright sun.

But the island is more than just the proverbial surf and sun. The islands surrounding Siargao and the Caraga region in northeastern Mindanao remain hidden, waiting to be discovered—breathtaking nooks and lagoons seemingly taken out of a Tolkien book; soaring cliffs and tranquil lakes—ready to take their rightful place as one of the country’s best tourist attractions.

“We want to show that Caraga is more than just Siargao,” Department of Tourism (DOT) regional director Leticia Tan told the BusinessMirror. “We are a region of culture, adventure and nature.”

The director has reasons to be proud. No other destination in the country can boast of a recorded history of thousands of years, still-unspoiled wonders and the sheer majesty than Caraga.

The region, part of the tourism belt of the Central Philippines Super Region, now has a fledgling tourism industry. It already boasts an exclusive lagoon resort that is becoming popular among Korean honeymooners, a world-class surfer’s paradise in Siargao and vast lagoons where tourists can swim alongside millions of non-sting jellyfish within two hours of each other.

In 2008, the region’s consolidated tourist arrivals hit 385,000, up by 23 percent from the previous year. This despite limited access to Manila, and inadequate access from the nearest hub in Cebu. It is still far from Cebu’s 2.1 million consolidated arrivals in the same year, but Tan said getting a significant slice of their neighbor’s arrivals would be a huge success for this region in the unfortunate perennial backdoor of Mindanao.

WITH only around 10 wellappointed super exclusive villas(top left), Club Tara resort in Butas Grande is slowly becoming a honeymoon destination for Korean couples. PHOTO BY DESINATION SPECIALISTS CEBU

The region, composed of the Agusan and Surigao provinces, as well as the mystical Dinagat province, is accessible through its three airports in Dapa, Siargao, Butuan City and Surigao City and through an adequate network of highways to key Mindanao cities like Cagayan de Oro and Davao. There are ongoing plans to bring in more flights and more shipping routes to the region, Tan said.

After a recent visit to the region by Cebu-based tour operators and journalists, Tan reported that the local tour operators were visibly excited, adding that efforts by local officials for many years are starting to bear fruit.

“We believe our time has come and our people are ready,” she said.

More than just surfing

Siargao is the crown jewel of Caraga region. But while most of the passengers coming into the Siargao airstrip are tugging surfboards, Siargao and its people are also making an effort to offer more into their basket.

Pilar town, due north of the surfers’ hotbed of Cloud 9 in the municipality of General Luna, is slowly becoming a magnet for game fishing. Its last tournament in May drew anglers from America to Asia. Even tuna capital General Santos City sent a team to the international game fishing tournament. The winner was a 120-kilogram marlin caught just off the coast of the island.

Without a single hotel in the town, the local residents, including the mayor, have opened up their spare rooms for tourists in a home-stay program that is slowly becoming a model in the country.

Del Carmen town, an hour away from General Luna, is laying the groundwork for its main attraction—an 8,000-hectare mangrove forest that is the biggest in Mindanao.

“The tourists have been a long dream of our people and now it has become a reality,” Del Carmen Mayor Constantino Navarro IV said. The town has established a tour of the huge forests culminating in the tourist center in one of the coves.

ONE of the attractions of Siargao is the huge mangrove forest. Activities include kayaking through these forests.
Accommodation is already set in Siargao with accommodations like Bayud Resort and Pansukian ready to accommodate the higher-end market.

For Gerry Degan, owner of world-famous Sagana Resort, Siargao has the waves not offered by just any other island anywhere else.

“For surfers, Siargao is still the place to be. The waves here are just spectacular,” Degan said.

In fact, world-renowned sport apparel Billabong will title-sponsor for the third time the Siargao Invitational Surfing competition next year. Degan, the organizer of the event, said 48 surfers, including 36 of the world’s best, will be in Siargao for the tournament.

Degan said a lot of families are descending into the island for a weekend getaway while the kids go to surfing. While foreigners still make up most of the arrivals, the number of locals is growing.

“You can see the effects on the community. Before, children aged 14 would just sit around drinking tuba. Now everybody has a surfboard,” Degan said. “The biggest drawback is many locals kids would go surfing than go to school.”

Aside from being a healthy sport, many Siargao kids have become surfing trainers, easily taking home P1,000 on a regular day.

At the Billabong-Siargao Invitational Surfing tournament last year, a local boy Edito Alcala defeated the world’s best and pocketed close to P500,000.

“This becomes an inspiration for everybody and where you see the positive effects of tourism and surfing to the local community,” Degan said.

The mainland

The region’s biggest city, Butuan, is considered the seat of civilization in the country. This claim is backed by the discovery of balangays during a government ditch project in the 1970s.

The boats were carbon-dated to as early as 300 AD—a sign that an advanced community, capable of trans-Asian travel and international trade, was already existing in the region more than a thousand years before Magellan landed in Masau, Butuan, for the first Mass (still contending with Limasawa, Leyte, up to the present).

The name Caraga comes from many lores—it was the supposed name of the ancient kingdom in the region named Karagan. It may also come after the Visayan word “kalag,” meaning the region was full of spirits.

The spirits must have been generous to the people of Caraga, given its wealth of natural resources. And its people are known for their warmth and hospitality.

Just a two-hour drive from bustling Butuan City is the tranquil 15,000-hectare Lake Mainit, the deepest lake in the country at more than 230 meters deep.

The lake recently became a key destination for roadsters in Mindanao, thanks to the investment of the Almont Lakeside Hotel, just by the lake’s shore.

Nestled at some 50 meters above sea level, Lake Mainit is now starting to grow a following at least within the affluent circles of northern Mindanao for the fishing activities in the area.

The cove

Sorsogon may have its tourists swimming with whale sharks. In Sohoton Cove in Butas Grande Island, tourists can swim, touch and even have their pictures taken with millions of nonsting jellyfish.

Butas Grande is just 20 minutes from Claver town in Suriago del Nore (three hours’ drive from Butuan City). Its main attraction is Sohoton Cove with its blue-green waters and solid rock cliffs packed with virgin forests. Eagles glide in the sky to welcome guests.

Sohoton comes from the Visayan word “sohot,” meaning to sneak in, as visitors, especially at high tide, literally have to duck and weave among stalactites in the cave entrance into the cove.

Entry into the cove itself is like being transported back in time. At the back and top of imposing cliffs are freshwater lakes the size of football stadiums, which until the present remain pristine.

Dhodo Ajoc, the officer of the tourism center established by the people of Socorror town in the cove, said visitors can see at least five species of eagles and countless other animals.

“Our members used to be fishermen and loggers in the cove until we realized the treasure that we have,” Ajoc said. “We have grouped ourselves and dedicated our time to protect our jewel.”

The jewel of Sohoton is perhaps its jellyfish lagoon. A kayak ride through the winding mouth of the cove leads to a small lagoon inhabited by millions of non-sting jellyfish.

Tourists can see jellyfish—brown, purple, lavender, blue, transparent ones—from the boats. The braver ones can jump and wade in and feel the gelatinous creatures slamming into the body. Tourists can also scoop one for a photo op.

The international market has started to take note of the potential. An exclusive Korean-owned resort, Club Tara, has opened in one of the lagoons offering honeymoon suites with a breathtaking view of the lagoons and its cliffs greeting guests each morning.

“Our guests are mostly Koreans looking for a holiday and adventure,” Club Tara owner Sing Hoon Kang said. “They always say they seem to forget they are in the Philippines.”

In her speech before local tour operators in Butuan City, DOT Central Visayas director Patria Aurora Roa said the Central Philippines Super Region has a great chance of capturing the international market because of the diversity of destinations it can offer.

“Caraga can now ride in the coattails of Cebu by tapping the tourists that arrive in the region,” she said.

Her counterpart from Caraga, Director Tan, said her region and Mindanao must rise to meet the challenges in order to succeed.

“We cannot just sit down. We need to get up and move forward,” she said. “Caraga has a lot to offer and its people deserve to benefit from their efforts in preserving their environment.” (Businessmirror)

Tourism, transport highway map unveiled in Mindanao exposition

August 23, 2009 - A three-dimensional (3-D) map showing the connectivity and accessibility of Mindanao’s tourism destinations was unveiled during the recent opening of the Mindanao Travel and Tour Exposition 2009 (MTTE 2009) at the Davao Convention and Trade Center in Davao City.

The Mindanao Tourism and Transport Highway Map (MTTH), a 3-D landscaped model map of Mindanao, shows key tourism sites and the major highways, seaports and airports connecting various tourism and key destinations.

Some of the areas shown in the MTTH map include Dakak in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte, the Island Garden City of Samal on Samal Island, and the Agusan Marsh in Agusan del Norte.

An inter-agency project of the Department of Tourism (DoT) and the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC), the tourism and transport highway map features the multi-modal interconnectivity of the transportation and infrastructure development of Mindanao.

This project stresses the accessibility as well as the connectivity of the key eco-tourism sites of southern Philippines with the end view of encouraging domestic tourism within Mindanao while showcasing the ease and affordability of travel and tours within the island.

Changes and updates may be made even after the launching, as the map is an ongoing project. In the future, results of the project may be made accessible via Internet once the system is set in place.

At the interagency workshop on the MTTH Map held last month in Cagayan de Oro City, Tourism Undersecretary Oscar Palabyab stressed the importance of the map in identifying the gaps in tourism, transportation as well as the needed infrastructure support.

“Our neighbors have the basic infrastructure requirements, that’s why they have more visitors and tourists,” said Palabyab, adding that Mindanao has the best tourism destinations whether in terms of culture, adventure or nature.

He also said that the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines–East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) is one important strategy for tourism marketing of Mindanao. (Manila Bulletin)

Surigao del Norte town aiming to become Southeast Asia’s game-fishing capital

Wednesday, 05 August 2009 SIARGAO Island, Surigao del Norte—A sleepy community of barely 10,000 people, Pilar town and its people have big dreams—to become the game-fishing capital of Southeast Asia, if not Asia itself.

With the support of the national government and the Department of Tourism (DOT), the people of Pilar are pooling their resources, bayanihan- style, to lure tourists. Some 27 homes in the town have signed up for the town’s home-stay program, which allows tourists to live with local families and experience rural life in Pilar while enjoying the town’s outdoor adventures.

The program started a year ago, when the town hosted the first Siargao game-fishing tournament. Without hotels and pension houses, town mayor Lucio Gonzales rallied the residents to open up their homes to their local and international guests. The DOT pitched in, identifying 16 houses which became recipients of a P75,000 grant to renovate their houses.

“We had nothing to offer, but our hospitality,” Gonzales said. The 2009 version of the game-fishing event drew anglers from Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Russia, Taiwan and the United States to compete with local anglers from all over the country.

The event was opened by President Arroyo. This year’s winner caught a 120-kilogram marlin just off the coast of Siargao.

One of the participants of the home-stay program was Carmencia Umbros. Although Umbros did not get the cash assistance, she opened up her three rooms to a delegation from General Santos City, who stayed in her house for two consecutive game-fishing tournaments.

“They liked it here the first time so they contracted me to host them again in May this year,” Umbros, a retired public-school teacher, said.

Her brother-in-law across the street just finished installing air-conditioning units in a room and is wrapping up a paint job, courtesy of the cash assistance from the DOT.

For P1,200 a day, Umbros’s house offers an air-conditioned room and full board meals plus a little extra.

“When the anglers come home from a day at the sea, I could not allow them to go to bed hungry so I cook for them,” Umbros said. “As with men, there should be unlimited rice.”

Mayor Gonzales said Pilar wants to show the other side of Siargao aside from the now world-famous surfs of Cloud 9.

“Our fishing grounds are perhaps the richest in the country,” he said. “Our dream is to be the fishing capital of Southeast Asia.”

With a community like Pilar and residents like Umbros, the dream may not be that far from becoming a reality. (Written by Willy Rodolfo III / Reporter)

Davao expo to regale visitors with miniature showcases

Owners and organizers of adventure sports in the island resorts plan to regale visitors and exhibitors to the Mindanao Travel and Tours Expo (MTTE 2009) later this month with a miniature setup of their respective adventure sports.

Outside the venue of the MTTE exhibition would rise a miniature showcase of such famous offerings such as Fantasyland of Gloria de Dapitan of Zamboanga del Norte, the surfing waves of Siargao Island in Surigao, and the ziplines, rock walls and rappeling of Edge Outdoors resembling some of the highland adventures in the Davao region.

 Team Everest of Pastor Emata would also set up a miniature mountain wall for climbing enthusiasts.

Araceli Ayuste, chair of the Davao del Norte Tourism Council and organizer of the MTTE 2009, said the showcase exhibitors “would set up the miniature replicas of their resorts and the adventure sports that they offer.”

The Gloria de Dapitan, for instance, would set up its colorful shooting fountains, rides and parks, the same famous attractions that complement the historic place of exile of Philippine hero Dr. Jose Rizal.

“Ziplines would be installed from the venue to across the street of the Davao Convention and Trade Center,” she said. “We would also have a preview of the famous waves of Siargao because the resort owners promised to bring wave-inducing machines.”

The 11 slots for these miniature adventure showcases have been filled for the August 20-22 MTTE, she said. The other showcase would be presented by Sarangani province with its bay festival; the municipality of Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur, with its boulder-face challenge of Mt. Apo; the Philippine Eagle Center, with live eagles and other eagle and hawk species to show its conservation and ecotourism program; the Davao del Norte province with its cultural village; the Wind and Wave Davao, with its diving and parasailing; Punta del Sol Araceli Beach Resort with its summer beach hut; and Nature Spring with its summer splash.

Pasalubong showcases at the lobby would also complement the adventure showcases outside the venue. Exhibits include the sausages of Parañaque City and still-undisclosed items from Digos City in Davao del Sur and the province of Guimaras, famous for its mango export.

Also at the lobby, Phoenix Philippines would put up a miniature (3 meter by 8 meter) gasoline station, Lake Sebu tinalak tribal weavers would have their own booth to show actual weaving of authentic tinalak, and the Davao regional office of the Department of Tourism (DOT) would install an adventure showcase.

Forty-five entities would put up 54 exhibit booths at the main exhibition area, with the Davao Region comprising half (23 entities and 24 booths) of all exhibitors. Four cities outside the Davao region (Kidapawan, Cotabato, Zamboanga and Dapitan) and the province of Camiguin Island, Sarangani and South Cotabato, as well as the DOT offices of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Central Mindanao and the Zamboanga Peninsula, would also participate.

Nine booths would be taken up by Puerto Princesa City of Palawan, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, the Philippine Tourism Authority and the DOT offices of Bicol, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos and Pangasinan, National Capital Region and Western Visayas, and the national office of the Department of Transportation and Communications.

The MTTE 2009 would be held alongside Davao City’s weeklong Kadayawan Festival, also the island’s largest fruit-harvest festival.

 Meanwhile, a separate Mindanao Trade Exposition organized by the Davao City-based MTE Foundation said 50 institutional buyers from Manila and some other parts of the country and 30 companies from Cebu City have confirmed their participation to MTTE 2009 on Thursday.

The trade expo would be held at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas exhibit area here.

MTTE 2009 chair Ann Pamintuan said “a wide array of opportunities are provided for the 100 exhibitors considering that the visiting buyers have varied preferences and interests.”

“Some buyers are interested on the finished products that will be showcased, but some might be more interested to enter into agreements wherein certain Mindanao entrepreneurs will provide them with raw materials,” she said. (Written by Manuel Cayon / Reporter)

Billabong Extends Sponsorship Of Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational, New 3 Year Deal Announced

LEADING surf company Billabong is proud to announce its continued sponsorship of the Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational in the Philippines.

The new, three-year deal ensures Billabong naming rights sponsorship of the Philippine's premier surfing event until 2012.

'Cloud 9' - a powerful, hollow right-hander has produced a smorgasbord of flawless, barrelling waves for the event since its inception in 2007, with a plethora of surf stars from around the globe sampling its delights.

In a major coup, the exclusive invitational event will offer a world-class field of 48 invited surfers a chance to compete for an upgraded US $30,000 prize pool from 2010.

Adding to their commitment, Billabong has also thrown their support behind the Philippine's National Surfing Titles, which are held the week leading into the prestigious Cloud 9 event.

Billabong SE Asia Marketing Manager Peter Thew says they're excited to be raising the profile of the prestigious tournament, whilst promoting surfing in the Philippines.

"The Cloud 9 Invitational is one of those special events and definitely an event we had no choice but to continue supporting," said Thew.

"It's exciting to be able to announce this deal, as it will see Billabong increasing the prize purse, but also taking on the Philippines Nationals to help the already rapid progression of the Philippine talent. Billabong is also immensely grateful for the continued support of the Government - without them this event would not be possible!"

Similarly, Provincial Governor Robert Ace S. Barbers said, "We are happy with the renewal of our contract with Billabong for another three years of engagement to stage the annual Siargao International Surfing Competition beginning year 2010 to 2012."

"Billabong gave us the opportunity to be internationally known as the host of the only recognized international surfing event in the country."

Contest director, Surfing Australia CEO Andrew Stark said the deal is a major plus for the event.

"This event has been running for over 15 years now and this new deal is a testament to the unique and prestigious event that it is," he said.

"The event will attract the very best tube riders from around the world and put them in what is arguably the world's most perfect right hand tube."

Premier surfers to receive an invitation to the 2009 event include former world tour surfer Bruce Irons (Hawaii), Pipeline Master Jamie O'Brien (Hawaii), World Qualifying Series (WQS) shredder Owen Wright (Lennox Head, Aus), Australian big wave charger Laurie Towner (Yamba, Aus), Sunshine Coast sensation Julian Wilson (Coolum, Aus), Brazilian ace Jadson Andre and Hawaiian hotshot Dusty Payne.

Due to Siargao's proximity to the Philippines, big swells from the Pacific Ocean roll in from the second deepest stretch of water in the world to create flawless, hollow barrelling waves.

The 2009 tournament, which has a US $20,000 prize pool, will run from October 21-27, with 2 days of competition surfing across a seven-day event window.

The tournament contest site is Siargao Island's 'Cloud 9', a powerful, hollow right-hander that has been frequently compared to the renowned surf of Hawaii and Indonesia.

The Billabong Cloud 9 Invitational 2009 is proudly supported by Billabong, Province of Surigao Del Norte, Stoked Inc and Sagana Resort. (Billabong)

Inter-island race on nautical highway

MANILA, Philippines – The dream of a nautical highway, linking thousands of islands throughout the archipelago, is slowly taking shape.

For years, policy-makers have been talking about a waterborne transportation system that will facilitate cost-efficient flow of merchandise goods and unlock the huge potential for tourism offered by the country’s beautiful coastal towns.

The state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines, a strong supporter of this vision, is keen not just in funding key logistics projects but also in promoting roll-on roll-off (Ro-ro) ships as an attractive alternative for sightseeing backpackers.

Over the last four years, it has been holding “Ready Get Set Ro-ro” – an inter-island race patterned after the “Amazing Race” on cable television.

Every year, hundreds of young men and women vie for limited slots and get a shot at winning the P1-million grand prize. In that race, those lucky enough to join will get to sail to summer hotspots, meet new friends and watch their adventures aired on national TV.

This year’s six-day race saw 30 participants divided into 10 teams, drumming up attention in every port, from the time they boarded and disembarked from the Ro-ro to the execution of various mental and physical challenges.

Drinking in the local flavor

“This is, in fact, the essence of the race – to promote and boost trade and tourism through the use of the Ro-ro terminal system and the nautical highway,” DBP president Reynaldo David said during the awarding ceremonies of this year’s race held in May.

“The Ro-ro certainly appeals to tourists who want to make the most of their vacations. Not only is it cheap, but the Ro-ro allows tourists to visit as many cities and villages as they want, drink in the local flavor, steep themselves in the rich cultures and traditions of our provinces, enjoy the breathtaking scenery of our islands. They can just bring their car and park it inside a Ro-ro vessel,” he said.

Ro-ro vessels are designed to carry vehicles from one island to another. Automobiles, trucks and even railroad cars roll on or off the ship using ramps that are lowered when the vessel comes to port.

Traders may also get to reduce distribution costs by shipping their goods via Ro-ro vessels to any point in the country.

“It’s cheap, convenient and it certainly makes good business sense to ship your cargo rather than fly them, for instance,” David said. “This is the beauty of the Ro-ro, which we are highlighting through this inter-island race. With the Ro-ro, we are providing our countrymen with a cheap and convenient alternative to travel [these islands].”


This year, the competitors started the race in Siargao, the country’s surfing capital. Then they hopped to Surigao del Norte before heading north to Leyte. In the course of the six-day race, they had to board Ro-ro vessels no fewer than nine times to get to Cebu, Negros, Panay and Mindoro. Last stop was Batangas in Luzon.

This year’s grand prize was bagged by a team led by 32-year-old sportscaster/commercial model Reema Chanco. The two other members of her team “Beach Hotshots” were cousins Jamielyn Ira Dy, 23, and Jethro Lloyd Tan, 24.

Team “Aquaholics,” composed of Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Teen edition Season 2 finalist Josef Elizalde and running photographers Trisha Halili and Lea Aspe, clinched second place with P500,000. Team “Wave Catchers” with “Streetboys” member Danilo Barrios and Cebuano lawyers Mike Gatchalian and Tine Naranjo took third place for a P300,000 win.

Team “Summer Breezers” with “I love Betty La Fea” star Thou Reyes and girl buddies Chal Lontoc-del Rosario and Joei Calixto got fourth place, while fan favorite team “Fun Explorers” with surfer dudes JP and Aston Sarmiento and PBB Teen Edition housemate Nicole Uysiuseng came in fifth, taking home P75,000.

Other celebrity participants this year were former Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Season 1 housemate Cassandra Ponti, ABS-CBN artists Eda Nolan and Rodjun Cruz, Viva Hot Babe Hazel Cabrera, and Serena Dalrymple, a commercial model and former child star.

Catching crabs

From the opening ceremonies in Siargao, the teams raced to their first clue, mounted on top of poles which they had to climb. The clue led them to a fenced area where, in the Surigaonon tradition of harvesting crabs called “tikyabang,” the contestants had to catch 10 crabs.

From the crabbing pit, the teams had to race to the Siargao Inn for their next checkpoint There they had to eat 10 pieces of the local surfboard-shaped bread known as “Pan de Surf.” Then they’re off to the Jacking Horse surf site, where a team member had to paddle a long board.

Teams then rallied to the pit stop set at the Gen. Luna Church.

Day 2 was a long and event-filled day for the racers as they covered two legs.

After they were delayed for an hour in Ormoc due to a sudden downpour, the racers boarded the Super Shuttle Ferry to Camotes Island.

On board, they had to search the vessel for a set of puzzle pieces which they had to assemble to form a picture of the ferry.

Fish traps

Shortly after sunset, the racers landed on Camotes Island and took off for the next leg of the race. At the Buho Rock Resort, teams had to slide down to the pool, swim to the fish traps and transfer fish from the trap to their fish net. Then they had to climb back up to have the fish checked by a marshal before returning to the port for the pit stop.

The adventure continued in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, where teams had to run to the gymnasium and manually remove peanuts from their shells, and ride the “trisikad” to the People’s Park where they had to learn the basic steps of the Pintaflores Dance.

Then they had to race to city hall, which served as the pit stop for this leg of the race.

The island paradise of Boracay was the site of the fifth leg. The Caticlan port was the starting point for this leg, where racers had to ride the “paraw” from Caticlan to Station 2. There they had to paddle kayaks to three buoys to retrieve the money they would use to pay the entrance at Mt. Luho, the highest peak in Boracay.

Leg 6 was set in Matabungkay, where participants had to gulp down three cups of barako coffee at the local market, then wrestle with pigs for their next clue.

The race home

Then the teams had to get on a balsa and steer it to a point offshore before heading back to the beach.

From Matabungkay, Batangas, the five teams headed to Rizal Park for a final challenge.

Once at the park, the participants would have to trace the race route at the floating relief map of the Philippines.

After that, they proceeded to Reposo Street in Makati City for the final dash toward the pit stop at the DBP head office.

“More than the prize, it has been a rewarding experience to visit different provinces and get to know the people there and what they have to offer,” said Thou Reyes of team Summer Breezers.

The adrenaline rush, the heated competition, the camaraderie among participants, the breathtaking sights, the mouthwatering delicacies, the hospitality of local townsfolk and the adventure itself were just some of the things the participants would remember for a long, long time, David said.

The DBP executive is so pleased with the warm reception to this project that he wants to scale up the promotion of Ro-ro beyond the annual inter-island race.

He said the bank would soon publish pamphlets containing local inter-island Ro-ro routes, details on fares, island activities, suggested dining places and where to stay in a particular coastal hotspot.

By Doris Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Caraga Region tops national reading tests

The awardees in their gala uniforms flank President Arroyo and Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña. Behind them are (from left) Metrobank Foundation vice chair Placido mapa, FFCCCII president Alfonso Uy, PSBank president Pascual Garcia, Supreme Court Justice Renato Corona, Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, Rotary Club of New Manila East president Noel Bongat, PNP chief Gen. Jesus Verzosa, Rizal Mayor Ramon Ilagan, Masbate Rep. Rizalina Lanete, and Sr. Eva Fidela Maamo.

BUTUAN CITY, Philippines – Despite being a non-Tagalog speaking area, the Caraga Region in Mindanao topped the national reading test (RT) in Filipino conducted by the Department of Education (DepEd).

The Reading Test (RT), utilizing appropriate reading evaluation instruments including actual oral reading, was administered to all Grade 3 pupils in over 30,000 public elementary schools in over 175 provincial and city schools divisions in l7 regions in consonance with DepEd’s “Every Child A Reader” (ECAR) program.

The program, initiated by the Bureau of Elementary Education (BEE), provides that every pupil should have acquired the basic skills in reading by the end of Grade 3.

Yolanda Quijano, BEE director, said the education department implemented the ECAR plan because of the importance of reading in the academic advancement of children not only in grade school but also in the secondary and tertiary levels.

DepEd statistics showed that Caraga registered the highest Mean Percentage Score (MPS) of 78.26 in the RT in Filipino.

Southern Tagalog-B (Mimaropa) registered an MPS of 74.52 while its twin region of Southern Tagalog-A (Calabarzon) got an MPS of 68.64 to place second and third, respectively.

Significantly, Caraga— composed of the schools divisions of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Butuan City, Siargao and Surigao City - also topped the national RT in English with an MPS of 77.88.

According to DepEd data, the other regions and their respective national reading examination MPS were: Ilocos, 69.59; Central Luzon, 66.09; Eastern Visayas, 64.45; Zamboanga Peninsula, 62.76; Cordillera Administrative Region, 60.38; Southern Mindanao, 56.57; National Capital Region, 55.95; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, 55.49; Northern Mindanao, 54.40; Central Visayas, 54.38; Bicol, 54.28; Central Mindanao, 54.05; Western Visayas, 52.30; and Cagayan Valley, 52.12. (philstar)

Siargao hosts Surigao’s 1st LGU summit

7/1/09 - At least 3,000 local government officials in the region, including village leaders, teachers and other officials of various line agencies of the government are scheduled to troop to the paradise island of Siargao to attend the 1st Siargao Local Governance and Education Summit early next month.

Officials said the aim of the summit is to help President Arroyo’s economic and development programs in the island.

Most of the discussions during the slated the summit will also focus on local governance of the mayors and the welfare of the teachers and the people of Siargao, and mainland Surigao City, said Surigao del Norte Rep. Francisco T. Matugas.

The summit will be held at the newly constructed P46 million Dapa Convention Center where Mayor Peter “Boy” Ruaya will be the host on July 15.

Matugas already poured in some P20 million for the rehabilitation of the said convention center.

Invited guests and keynote speakers during the summit include Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno, Matugas said.

Other topics to be discussed during the summit is the concern of every village, schools in far-flung areas and establishing of new police station buildings, where the nine mayors will also present several resolutions addressed to Puno during the affair, he said.

In that summit, officials of the various local government units along with other officials from line agencies of the government will also review the current Comprehensive Livelihood Emergency and Employment Program (CLEEP) of the government, it was gathered.


Siargao on Cebu aviation firm’s tour list

7/1/09 - A Cebu-based aviation company has partnered with the Department of Tourism to provide aerial tours for those who want an alternative way of exploring Siargao island in the Caraga region.

Kenneth Madrid, executive vice president for sales and marketing of Aviatour, said the partnership is in line with the department's thrust to push adventure tourism in the region.

"We hope to see more tie-ups with other DOT regional offices after this partnership," Madrid told Cebu Daily News.

Tourism secretary Joseph "Ace" Durano said this development opens up Siargao and Caraga to more visitors.

"I have seen the tourism attractions of the area. Ang kuwang (What is lacking) is accessibility. The operation of Aviatour will provide the necessary access to the area and open up tourism traffic," said Durano.

Madrid said the DOT has coordinated with tour operators to sell the package.

He said tour packages to Siargao started last May 15. Introductory prices of flight tour is until September 15 for P3,750 to P7,500 per person for 30-minute to two-hour tour.

Package A gives tourists bird's eyeview of Butuan province and marshland, Lake Mainit and Sohoton Cove, while package B includes Surigao province, Lake Mainit and Sohoton Cove. Package C, on the other hand, includes Surigao and Lake Mainit.

The aerial tour started in 2000 catering to Korean honeymooners, said marketing officer Margaret Rose Veniegas.

Veniegas said demand for the flight tours increased with international tourists such as Russians, Japanese and Belgians comprise 80 percent of the market. About 20 percent are local tourists.

The Caraga region packages are the latest addition in the list of flight tours, which include Bohol, Mactan and neighboring islands of Pandanon, Nalusuan and Olango among others.

He said the company also offers "tailor-fit" tours according to the request of clients.

With the election year coming, Aviatour is expected to host several politicians and celebritiies who normally get services of the company for chartered flights.

Meanwhile, the company's flight school continues to get a steady flow of students from different countries such as Pakistan and other Arabian countries, said president and chief operating officer Jemar Bahinting

Bahinting said the quality of theory and practical training of the school gives them a competitive edge over other flight schools in the country.

There remains low awareness among Filipinos on the prospects of pursuing a career as a pilot, Bahinting said finding jobs for these graduates is another challenge. (cebu daily news)

Siargao port construction gains positive reviews

6/23/09 - The present administration is now in full gear for the rehabilitation and construction of new seaports to provide convenient transport facilities to domestic and foreign tourists in the country.

In Siargao, having been known as the surfing capital of the Philippines, the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) – Port Management Office in Surigao bared several port projects in Surigao del Norte slated for expansion or rehabilitation.

These include the rehabilitation of causeway in the port of Sta. Monica in Siargao Island, a six hundred (600) meters long and six (6) meters wide concrete Causeway project amounted to P40Million. It was reported that some portions of the causeway were already damaged as evidenced by massive cracks.

Another is the construction of new port in Pilar town in Siargao Island with a total estimated budget of P30Million. The scope of work covers the construction of wharf and RO-RO ramp with a back-up area and a drainage system plus port lighting system.

Dredging of channel (waterway) in the port of Del Carmen, municipality of Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte amounted to P50 Million. Re-channeling of waterway in Brgy. Consolacion in Dapa amounted to P3Million. Another dredging of channel (waterway) in Dapa port amounted to P38Million.

Still in Dapa, the construction of new port in Brgy. Jubang amounted to P75 Million. It covers the construction of wharf and RO-RO ramp with a back-up area and a drainage system plus port lighting system.

After hearing the news about the new port project currently undertaken by PPA in Brgy. Jubang, Aling Nita Libay of Brgy. Jubang could not help but express her gratitude to the Arroyo administration for the support they have given.

“I believe these port projects in Siargao will have a big impact especially here in our barrio,” Aling Nita said adding that the project is a tool for the community’s development.

Meanwhile, Sixto Virtudazo in Pilar town believed that with the proposed construction of the new port in the game fishing capital, it is now easier for the local and foreign tourists to reach them.

“Mahayahay na isab karajaw an amo pagkadto sa Surigao kun magdaya kami nan mga butang didto. Salamat karajaw sa ini na proyekto. (It is also easier for us to reach Surigao City if we bring goods there. Thank you very much for this project),” he said.

Indeed, even local officials here are confident that with the construction and rehabilitation of these ports and terminal facilities, traveling to these seaports is now convenient not just to the local and foreign tourists but also to the people living in the area. (PIA-Surigao del Norte)

Siargao Fiesta

Jan 15-16   DAPA

                    Poblacion 1 to 13 - Dapa

Jan 25-26      Brgy. Consolacion - Pilar

Mar 18-19     Brgy. San Miguel - Dapa

                    Brgy. San Jose - Del Carmen

Mar 20-21  SAN BENITO

Apr 4-5       Brgy. Esperanza - Del Carmen

                    Brgy. Jaboy - Pilar

                    Brgy. Malinao - Gen. Luna

                    Brgy. Pelaez - San Isidro

                    Brgy. Rizal - Sta. Monica

Apr 9-10      Brgy. Halian - Del Carmen

                    Brgy. Sering - Socorro

Apr 19-20    Brgy. Salog - Socorro

Apr 25-26     Brgy. Buhing Kalipay - San Isidro

                    Brgy. Mahayahay - Del Carmen

Apr 30 & May 1  Brgy. Alegria - Sta. Monica

                    Brgy. Mabuhay - Del Carmen

                    Brgy. Tawin-Tawin - Gen. Luna

May 1-2      Brgy. Del Pilar - San Isidro

May 2-3      Brgy. Bailan - Sta. Monica

                    Brgy. Datu - Pilar

                    Brgy. Sta. Cruz - Socorro

May 3-4      Brgy. Matin-ao - Burgos

May 4-5      Brgy. Sta. Paz - San Isidro

May 9-10    Brgy. Bitaug - Burgos

May 11-12  Brgy. Dumoyog - Del Carmen

May 12-13  Brgy. Garcia - Sta. Monica


                    Brgy. Cabawa - Dapa

                    Brgy. Cabugao - Del Carmen

                    Brgy. Consuelo - Gen. Luna

                    Brgy. Nueva Estrella - Socorro

May 15-16    Brgy. Del Carmen - San Isidro

                    Brgy. Mabini - Sta. Monica

                    Brgy. Del Pilar - Socorro

                    Brgy. San Carlos - Dapa

May 19-20    Brgy. Honrado - Socorro

                    Brgy. Salvacion - Pilar

                    Brgy. Sayak - Del Carmen

May 21-22  Brgy. Pilaring - Pilar

May 22-23  Brgy. Mabuhay - Pilar

May 24-25  Brgy. La Januza - Gen. Luna

                    Brgy. Tigasao - San Isidro

                    Brgy. Bay-ang - Socorro

May 25-26  Brgy. Doña Helen - Socorro

                    Brgy. Sta. Felomina - Dapa

                    Brgy. Caub - Del Carmen

May 26-27    Brgy. Songcoy - Socorro

May 29-30    Brgy. Antilpolo - Del Carmen

May 30-31    Brgy. Katipunan - Pilar

Jun 4-5        Brgy. Tambacan - San Isidro

Jun 6-7        Brgy. Cancohoy - Del Carmen

Jun 7-8        Brgy. Sta. Fe - Dapa

Jun 8-9        Brgy. Catangnan - Gen. Luna

Jun 10-11    Brgy. Neuvo Campo - San Benito

                    Brgy. Sto. Niño - San Isidro

Jun 11-12    Brgy. Maasin - Pilar

Jun 12-13    Brgy. Corridor - Dapa

                    Brgy. Quezon - Del Carmen

                    Brgy. San Miguel - San Isidro

Jun 13-14    Brgy. Macapagal - San Isidro

Jun 14-15    Brgy. Corazon - Gen. Luna

                    Brgy. Jamoyaon - Del Carmen

                    Brgy. San Mateo - Burgos

Jun 16-17    Brgy. Jubang - Dapa

                    Brgy. Asinan - Dapa

Jun 17-18    Brgy. Suyangan - Gen. Luna

Jun 18-19    SOCORRO

                    Brgy. Navarro - Socorro

                    Brgy. Rizal - Socorro

                    Brgy. Taruc - Socorro

Jun 21-22    Brgy. Daku - Gen. Luna

Jun 23-24    Brgy. Katipunan - Del Carmen

                    Brgy. San Juan - San Benito

                    Brgy. Caridad - Pilar

                    Brgy. Pamosaingan - Socorro

Jun 25-26    Brgy. Dagohoy - Dapa

                    Brgy. Lobogon - Del Carmen

Jun 26-27    Brgy. Buenavista - Dapa

                    Brgy. Magsaysay - Gen. Luna

                    Brgy. Roxas - San Isidro

                    Brgy. Sta. Fe - Gen. Luna

                    Brgy. Tambo - Sta. Monica

Jun 28-29    Brgy. Bitoon - Del Carmen

                    Brgy. Don Paulino - Dapa

                    Brgy. Mabini - Pilar

                    Brgy. Maribojoc - San Benito

Jun 29-30    Brgy. Abad Santos - Sta. Monica

Jul 2-3         Brgy. Anajawan - Gen. Luna

Jul 14-15     Brgy. Cabitoonan - Gen. Luna

Jul 15-16     DEL CARMEN

Jul 21-22     Brgy. Magsaysay - Sta. Monica

Jul 25-26     BURGOS

Jul 26-27     Brgy. Sta. Cruz - Gen. Luna

Jul 27-28     Brgy. Libertad - Sta. MOnica

Jul 28-29     Brgy. Punta - Pilar

Jul 30-31     Brgy. Libertad - Gen. Luna

Aug 15-16   Brgy. San Roque - Socorro

                    Brgy. Bagakay - Dapa

                    Brgy. San Roque - Pilar

Aug 17-18    Brgy. Baybay - Burgos

Aug 27-28   STA. MONICA

                    Brgy. Mabuhay - Sta. Monica
                    Brgy. T. Arlan - Sta. Monica

Sep 1-2       Brgy. Consolacion - Dapa

Sep 17-18   Brgy. Monserrat - Dapa

Sep 21-22   GENERAL LUNA

                    Pob. 1 to 5 - Gen. Luna

Sep 24-25   Brgy. Sudlon - Socorro

Sep 27-28   Brgy. Dayaohay - Pilar

Sep 28-29   Brgy. Cambas-ac - Dapa

Sep 30 & Oct 1 Brgy. Bongdo - San Benito

Oct 6-7        Brgy. San Fernando - Del Carmen

                    Brgy. Osmeña - Dapa

Oct 11-12   PILAR

Oct 13-14    Brgy. Tuboran - Del Carmen

Dec 7-8       Brgy. Centro - Pilar

Dec 24-25   Brgy. Pacifico - San Isidro

Note: For corrections about the details above please contact us.

About Siargao

Siargao is composed of 48 islands and islets-politically divided into nine municipalities: Burgos, Dapa, Del Carmen, Gen. luna, Pilar, San Benito, San Isidro, Santa Monica, and Socorro. Read more...

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