After a hot day under the sun, of breaking rocks proportion and enjoying the ardent mood of Kadayawan Festival in Davao City. I joined a small group of avid film photographers; Lauren, Master Erick and Surfer Kara, right off the bat early the next day, on a journey to the city of Mati - the capital of Davao Oriental. Our mission was to find some waves and shoot some outstanding scenery, either digitally-in my case and on old school film. If there's any indication of what their bag of film cameras suggests, the trio are indeed armed to their teeth. Lomography speaking.
The road trip from Davao City to Mati was a brief one. Three hours to be exact, passing through the typical scenic countryside consisting of green fields, rolling hills, sleepy towns in between plus an island formation called "sleeping dinosaur". Inside the cramped up van, nearing cramps and battling against falling asleep, I successfully focused my mind on the scenes outside the window and entertained myself with the beautiful things I saw.
Time was like a blur as if moments are passing by gracefully, with an after-stroke from a master painter. From the blue skies to the crystal clear waters, even to the movements of the skimboarders who are otherwise known as the "Amihan Boys", you could sense a feeling of calm, even if I'm not (yet) a good surfer, rightfully still stuck in the 'bad' - 'can't balance myself' level. Plus, the fact I can't swim to save my life on the open sea. I would still, would want to try improve my bad surfing skills, ONLY if there were some decent swell that time.
The months preceding the surfing season which starts on October, can bring in some bipolar wave conditions. If you get lucky, you could surf some but just to be sure, make your surfing pilgrimage there during the surfing months. Surfer Kara was disappointed initially at the absence of waves, but we found time to enjoy our stay there by being beach bums and on the next day, Kara's friend fetched us to go to this other break location for a chance for her to surf.
The Gods of surfing must be smiling because indeed, there were some swell that formed a couple of hundred meters out to the sea and Kara and company - sans me, lauren and erick, was able to surf a dozen or more long rides over their surfboards. All is not lost for a surfing paradise, especially if it faces the Pacific Ocean.
Later in the day backpacking superstar Journeying James joined us for a late breakfast and I noticed a tiny bit BUT promising chemistry between him and surfer Kara. I hope they both follow it up with future surfing trips together.
Mindanao is a place filled with gem, places you never thought existed after you've gone through various headlines from the generalization-crazy mainstream media. I would love to extend my route further to Cateel and back to Compostela Valley - but I've to do it at the next most opportune time. As work awaits me back in the city where I came from.
As we rode the back of the pick-up truck of our new friend, passing through dirt and rough road, covered by towering trees on both sides, as rays of sunlight lit up our faces beaming with delight. We paid no attention to the bumps and grinds, each of us developing a new found fascination for this new place. All of us wouldn't mind visiting again in the near future.
In my own resolve, I plan to do that when I'm more comfortable standing over a surfboard, and a bit of improvement on my swimming skills just to increase my confidence wouldn't be bad either. As my film pirates friends and myself set out to leave Mati, they took home with themselves countless rolls of film and 2 gig of memory card for my sell-out digital self.
As I punched a small pin over the part of the map of the Philippines where Mati is located. I marked it not as someplace to get it over and done with, but a reminder for myself to make another trip there, most possibly during the time of the surfing season. Let's see if afterwards I would've utter the words "stoke".