Rogue Magazine April 2008

    I shot and wrote the article entitled: "Why We Surf", for the April 2008 Issue of Rogue Magazine

    the original text posted with images that didn't make the final layout, but i included here to complete the story:

    Why We Surf.
    For Rogue Magazine, April 2008
    By: Mark Dimalanta

    What is it that drives a surfer to charge down the face of a 20’ beast that is more than willing to bite down with razor sharp coral teeth, risk their body being battered and “rag dolled” with a force of what feels like a million pounds of pressure; and all detonating over a mere few feet of water? When probed on this question, famous Banzai Pipeline pioneer Gerry Lopez described the rush of big wave charging like this, “ riding waves so scary, that you die just a little each time” but in that moment you experience the most lucid form of living.

    Surfing, the ancient sport of Polynesian kings, entails more than what it simply appears to be. It is a lifestyle that embodies a harmony between Mother Nature and the surfer, themselves. Hollywood seldom ever gets it right. Surfing is not Keanu Reeves in “Point Break”, or Sean Penn in Fast times at Ridgemont High. Perhaps the closest Hollywood depiction was the story of 3 lifelong friends in “Big Wednesday.” The premise of this classic showcased 3 young men who grew up with the common bond of surfing and faced life’s challenges in differing ways.

    One of the greatest things about surfing is that it is nearly impossible to capture it in words, which is why so many of us continue to guard our sport and lifestyle and never even attempt to openly address what we all realize it to be… “a tangible efficiency of beauty and perfection”. I have said time and time again, that surfing can only be qualitatively judged by those who participate in it. Many may admire it from a distance, but nothing much in this life comes close to the elation one derives from gliding across water. Well I can think of one thing, but even that can become transient and will cost you a dinner and fine wine. Surfing is as free as the open ocean. All it takes is your will to try. Like the cliché says, “only a surfer knows the feeling.”

    The world of surfing is highly visible to the masses with the World Championship Tour (WCT), wherein the best surfers in the world, like Kelly Slater (8X ASP world champion), Andy Irons (3X ASP world champion), or CJ Hobgood (2001 ASP champion, & reigning US Open of Surfing Champ) travel the world to exotic places to showcase their talent. Kelly was the first “million dollar man”, scoring the first ever multi million-dollar contract for Quiksilver Clothing. Besides being the most gifted surfer to ever grace this earth, he has been on People’s Sexiest man alive list several times over, and lucky enough to garner this unique accolade… After a shooting of the annual Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit issue, and in a poll of all the hottest supermodels to the likes of Alessandra Ambrosio and Adriana Lima, when asked whom they all would love to be with, the unanimous vote was for Mr. 8X ASP himself, Kelly Slater. After living a seasoned life and no matter how spicy, a comment like that is what I would want on my epitaph.

    No longer are surfers portrayed as the bum on the beach with no direction. Kelly was one of the first surfers to legitimize 6 or 7 figure salaries and was the face of Channel Islands Surfboards and Quiksilver. He is a musician, humanitarian, and a strong advocate for a “Green” lifestyle and preserving his “office,” which happens to be beach. In Kelly’s words, “Surfing for me has always been a way to find things out about myself. It gives me really good feedback about my life… it shows me where I’m doing well and where I can improve.”

    According to Evan Slater, the editor in chief of Surfing Magazine, “Surfing isn’t necessarily going mainstream, it’s the mainstream that’s going surfing…” Some Celebrities who share a passion for surfing include international stars like: Elle Macpherson, Gisele Bundchen, Paul Walker, Alessandra Ambrosio, Jack Johnson and the late Heath Ledger. Local Stars include: Jericho Rosales, Heart Evangelista, Iya Villania, Maike Evers, and Christina Bartges.

    Despite the threat of over-commercialization, surfing will always remain at its essence, Pure. After winning the 2007 US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California, CJ Hobgood put it like this, “Stripped down, without all the hype and competitions, Surfing will always take care of itself, because of the love the people have for the ocean.” What I admire most about CJ is his Piety and love of family first. Having stern values and being a family man with much to lose, its awe inspiring to watch him “take the drop” and get “shacked” (getting barreled riding inside the hollow of a wave) into some of the scariest waves at the Banzai Pipeline and Theaupoo. Whether it be a simple wooden plank or the new space age carbon-epoxy-thingamajig, at its purest it’s about the surfer, his board, the wave and how they interact.

    Of the many faces of surfing, the most inspirational is the free-surfer who surfs for their own enjoyment, as well as those who have transcended obstacle because of their will to surf. I met a doctor who was at a point in his life where he felt he actualized all of his ambitions. He was on the cuff of a rewarding Medical career, but his aspiration was cut short due to a debilitating disease that robbed him of his mobility. He felt all was lost, he lived his life without passion, and could only dream of the things which gave him happiness. This doctor had surfed his whole life, always waking each morning with life and fire excited to surf with his mates, and share the gifts of the ocean. When he fell ill, it was the drive to surf once more that fueled his recovery. With modern medical technology, diligent physical therapy, the restorative powers of water, which alleviated his symptoms; and with the spiritual healing of Surfing, the doctor quelled his ailments and is back to a lifestyle of Surfing, never taking for granted what he almost lost.

    How about Bethany Hamilton, the promising young female surfer who at the age of 13 almost lost her life when she was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark. The attack left her with a severely severed left arm that had to be amputated. Because of her faith, support from family and her love of surfing Bethany survived the corrective surgeries, despite sustaining 60% blood loss, and recovered with an unbelievable positive attitude. Uncertain of her future or the possibility of ever surfing again, she made the decision to give one-armed surfing a shot. Amazingly, she returned to the water within only a month’s time of her attack. She is now back to competitive surfing and uses her ordeal as an inspiration to help others overcome their adversities. In her words, “People I don’t even know come up to me. I guess they see me as a symbol of courage and inspiration. One thing hasn’t changed, and that’s how I feel when I’m riding a wave. It’s like, here I am. I’m still here. Its still me and my board in God’s ocean!”

    So, why do we surf? Health and fitness, or spiritual cleansing? The bottom line is that it’s just downright cool, the music, the life; it’s living a dream… Besides more and more women surf, surfing begets fitter bodies, which translates into firm abs and firmer buns that are always a welcoming view when paddling back out to the lineup. Maybe its because it’s organic and always evolving. Even the most seasoned veteran has something to learn on each wave and will explore to any length to experience it. Perhaps that is the hook, surfing is never static or boring, each wave is unique with a different outcome. It’s the honeymoon that never ends. “til’ death do us part…”

    So I offer you one challenge amidst your hustling life in Manila, Los Angeles, or maybe NYC, don’t just surf the Internet… surf waves. We should only be so lucky, our beautiful country, our Philippines is blessed with well over 7000 islands, packed with waves and endless coastline. Some of the best surfers in the world are Filipino, Dustin Cuizon, Tamayo Perry, Mikala Jones, Freddy Pattachia, just to name a few. Truly something to enjoy and be very proud of, and if you let it, surfing will definitely change your life…

    Oh, remember that doctor I was telling you about? I knew him pretty well, because that doctor was me. Since my recovery, I have put down the stethoscope and picked up my surfboard and camera. It has been a new mission for me. A life rewritten to spread the Gospel of Surf, and share the images it encompasses. The will to surf again, preserved my life and may even have the same therapeutic benefits for you.

    Happy surfing.

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