Siargao Has Certified Surf Instructors and Here's Why You Should Hire Them
The ocean can be unforgiving.
(SPOT.ph) There's a huge difference between a surfer and a surf instructor. The former knows how to read the wind and the waves and trains day in and day out; while the latter, on top of these skills, are taught and tested about water safety and rescue, first aid techniques like cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and the technical component of teaching the sport specially to minors and differently-abled individuals. Also, they are certified and have IDs!
On March 30, journalist Karen Davila took to social media her family’s traumatic experience at the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, Siargao Island. Isla Cabana, the resort where they’re staying, booked surfing lessons for her sons—one of whom is differently-abled—and outsourced surfing instructors Junrey Taoy and Jocol Valerio. Thirty minutes out in the designated surfing spot for beginners called Jacking Horse, Davila’s son David ran back “bloodied, with his rash guard ripped apart” after “hitting the rocks on the shallow waters.” the “trainer,” who turns out not to be accredited by the Department of Tourism, disappeared after the accident. Though Davila's statement regarding the lack of first aid response by the beaches in General Luna is a cause for alarm and is true, her point, that "The instructors have no professional certifications. No requirement to be certified. No system of vetting trainers." may be a hasty generalization.
ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Course in Siargao in May 2017
Community organization Siargao Island Surfers Association, led by local surfer and coach Manuel “Wilmar” Melindo Jr., holds a series of theory and practical tests for surfing instructors on the island and accredit those who have completed and passed the training. In fact, some of them—including Melindo—were trained by the International Surfing Association when Level 2 surf instructor Adrian Sorati from Australia was flown in to General Luna in May 2017. Though most of them have been teaching for years already, they were told that they should "never stop learning" when it comes to coaching this sport. After all, accidents can happen anytime and the ocean can be unforgiving.
Surfista Travels, a private surf school owned by Elaine Abonal, is also composed of professional and certified surf instructors. "If you are picky where you want to go to school for quality education or who your university professors are, then why would you not be picky with whom you are learning an extreme sport from?," Abonal said in a Facebook post. Driven by passion, she also revealed that Surfista Travels prefers "not to teach students who don't even care to learn how to surf but just want to have a photo on a surfboard to look cool." "I'm here to hopefully ask you, if you are truly interested in learning how to surf—to know what you are getting into, know what it's all about, and know why you are doing it in the first place," she added.
Following Davila's "wake-up call," Surigao del Norte governor Sol Matugas issued an Executive Order requiring all municipal mayors in the island to provide 24/7 medical assistance for the public. He also ordered the temporary closure of Jacking Horse starting on March 31 to have time "to check if trainers know how to mentor." Cloud 9 Tower, which is home to the barreling waves of Siargao, was also "closed to the public indefinitely" for "structural repairs." This spot draws in pro surfers from around the world during the annual Siargao International Surfing Cup every September.
While they're at it, maybe the local government can also look into the lack of proper waste management in Siargao.