The Return of WSL in Siargao & the Bond of Surfers In and Out of the Water
October has been one busy month for Siargao. After seeing the return of international tourism on the island and about 10 months’ worth of progress and recovery from Typhoon Odette, the highly anticipated Siargao International Surfing Cup WSL QS1000 finally kicked off last October 15.
Defending champ John Mark “Marama” Tokong took home the crown for men’s shortboard with National champ Nilbie Blancada winning it for women’s shortboard. These two local legends from Siargao outlasted surfers from all around the Philippines, plus visiting professional surfers from Indonesia, Japan, Australia, and Sweden.
John Mark "Marama" Tokong inside a a Cloud 9 barrel.
This event also marks the grand return of Philippine surf competitions, setting in motion other local events in Baler, Borongan, and Cabugao, among many others.
Philmar Alipayo's deadly backside barrel technique on display.
One of the highlights of the competition came down to the semi finals bout between local favorites and best friends, Marama Tokong and Philmar “Chepoxz” Alipayo. Families, friends, and other supporters came down to the Cloud 9 beach to watch this matchup that would determine which surfer will proceed to the finals. Tensions ran high with Philmar and Marama riding the pumping waves of Cloud 9 with such ease and familiarity. In the end, Marama earned the finals spot but both of them celebrated the win — signaling not just the win of one Filipino, but their lifelong friendship and camaraderie on the waves they both grew up in.
“Me and Philmar, we don’t care who wins or loses. We are a team. At least there’s a Filipino that gets into the finals — that’s more important to me.” – Marama Tokong
Another milestone to celebrate is the announcement of their partnership with Vissla Surf on the same day as their semifinals heat. Marama and Chepoxz were named as the new faces of Vissla Philippines, marking the brand’s first official partnership with Philippine surfers. In fact, Vissla and their sister company, Sisstrevolution, were sponsors for the recent WSL QS1000 in Siargao as well. The jerseys used in the comp featured Vissla’s green and Sisstr’s pink, which made this competition all the more special.
The competition wrapped up in just 3 days, giving the competitors the chance to enjoy Cloud 9, as well as go around the island and bond with their surf brothers and sisters. It was a successful return to surfing competitions in the Philippines — once again opening the doors to our local surfers to showcase their skill and give them the opportunity to take their passion for surfing to the next level.
Nilbie Blancada & John Mark "Marama" Tokong, Winners of the 26th Siargao International Surfing Cup.
Speaking of next level, you can expect to see both Marama and Philmar, as well as women’s shortboard champ Nilbie Blancada, to take part in the upcoming WSL QS3000 Taiwan Open of Surfing this month. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting international surf comp!
Photos by UPSA (Abdel Elecho) , Mike Eijansantos