First Philippine Pro Surfer: Carlito Nogalo

Before surfing blew up all over the Philippines, before today’s young guns got sponsored and sent abroad to compete, before the exponential growth of fame and attraction of Siargao, there was Carlito Nogalo.


Carlito was the first Philippine professional surfer, and he was the country’s best before many a Filipino riding the surf trend ever picked up a surfboard. He’s been living the dream since he was born. He inspired many locals and paved the way for local professional surfing, with Siargao’s new breed of professional surfers following in his path and earning titles for the country and the little surf mecca they call home. 

He was born in 1984 in Brgy. Catagnan, when Siargao’s main thoroughfare was only a dirt road and surfing hadn’t even hit the island. As a Siargaonon grom in the 80’s and 90’s, he would have to deal with difficulties such as having no leash, no wax, and sharing one surfboard with four other kids. “My first experience surfing, I was surfing alone in Jacking Horse, I stood up and I was so stoked. I can’t even explain what my feelings were at the time. 

Despite the struggles of living in Siargao in the early days, Carlito was thankful for its simplicity. “I was so grateful to have grown up on this island because life is so simple and the people are all nice.”

Few can claim to be the first pro surfer from his country. “My dream before was to be a professional surfer and travel around the world, my goal was to be a champion and now it’s all happened. My dreams and goals were achieved. Being the first Filipino pro surfer, I feel I’m a very very lucky person because I traveled around the world, went to Hawaii, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, Sri Lanka, and I’m thankful to the people who helped me get there.” 

“Siargao has become so famous around the world, so many improvements and new resorts these days, so many guests coming in from different countries.” With Siargao’s accelerating development, Carlito only has one wish for Siargao: “I want the community to be peaceful, orderly, and without any trouble.”

His hopes for the younger generation are for them to “practice hard and even if they surf everyday they should always go to school.”


Carlito’s love of surf is uncomplicated. “I love surfing because it’s a really amazing lifestyle and it makes me happy all the time. The waves inspire me. When I’m watching the waves and when I try to surf by myself, I feel like it was the first time surfing again.”


Photos and interview by Sabs Bengzon

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