French legend Emmanuelle Joly and ASP Euro wonder Pauline Ado found some empty point breaks that could only be accessed by brightly coloured boats in the Philippines, and they invited us along for the ride (metaphorically rather than in person sadly, but next time we’re there!)
Words by Emmanuelle Joly, photography by Eric Malherbe
It’s Sunday and the kids are playing everywhere. Siargao island is like that, full of happiness. I don’t remember exactly where I got the idea to organise a trip to the Philippines. I met some surfers who told me about this place, and as I spend part of my winter in Sri Lanka I decided to come and explore.
I was really lucky. I checked where to stay on the internet, and at random chose Siargao Inn. It turned out to be super-nice bungalows built on a carpet of grass, bordering a lagoon. And it was owned by Rico and her wife Nildie, the Philippines Champ! I just happened to fall in the centre of the Philippines surf scene and Nildie and her friends were waiting to surf with me and show me their beautiful island.
Back in SW France, I contacted my friend the photographer Eric Malherbe. And, as we say at home, “the cherry on the cake” was meeting Pauline Ado, while I was surfing a local point break. She was in between contests and I asked if she’d like to join us, and fortunately she was free those dates. What else could go right? Well just to have the perfect conditions we surfed everyday with our guide surfer Carlito, and Nildie and her ripping sister Nilvi who has progressed so much since the last time I saw her surfing on her point breaks.
Everyday we took the Bangka, local coloured boat, to reach the different surf breaks such as Pansukian, Cloud Nine (of course!), Daco, Salvation, and Geewan Corner. Pauline was a perfect model for the local surfers, she really engaged on her take off and caught the waves deeper and deeper. Too deep sometimes and she hurt herself on her fins when she was in a barrel at Cloud Nine. Bingo – a big deep cut and five stitches on her heel! We were a little bit worried when we arrived at the hospital, as it was still early in the morning and there wasn’t any doctors in yet. At that time, I became the personal photographer of Pauline who wanted some memories of her cut. Yuk!
We continued our last few days surfing without Pauline who decided to go back to France in case her heel got infected. Bummer as the waves were still perfect and we cruised on to a new spot in the north with a DJ van. Another time, we surfed Daco until we were too tired and starving not to stop. For our break Carlito took us to Daco Island for a rest and calamari barbecue on the beach with a delicious coconut refreshment. Our teeth and lips were black with calamari ink so we had a good laugh at each other. Then, when we saw our spot was empty again, we surfed until our muscles begged for mercy…
* watch out of the rainy season from December to February.
* for most of the waves you have to take a Bangka boat, there are no beach breaks on Siargao Island.
* the currency is Philippines Pesos
* most people speak English.
* it’s better to land at Cebu airport rather than Manila and then catch a night boat for a real trip, or take an internal flight. See for example Qatar Airways