Stoked aka 25! #9

I am a novice swimmer. That being the case, it makes perfect sense for me to stay clear of deep waters, much less raging waves… Now that I’ve put those two sentences together, the slight audacity of wanting to learn both how to swim and to surf within months of each other becomes apparent. I don’t know why it has taken me this long to realize that, but I was aware that graduating from bubbles doesn’t warrant a gigantic leap to riding and ripping.

My very dear sorority sister and friend, LC Cpie, would disagree with the statement above. She has always assured me that swimming skills are not really prerequisite to surfing. She doesn’t swim well herself and is proof that there are indeed ways to get around. Knowing that I won’t be heading out into the deep at the beginning anyway, I finally accepted her invitation to join her and her friends in the surfing capital of the North, La Union.

I wasn’t able to sleep for most of my six-hour bus ride from Manila. Alone with no one to talk to, I watched as the sun illuminated the skies at dawn. Rain soon fell and affirmed reports of a storm passing through the area. My dad suggested for me to cancel the trip, and I remember thinking I probably should’ve listened. I was alone; it was raining; and I didn’t know anyone besides LC Cpie. Any misgiving I had were dispelled as soon as I saw her. LC met me with a huge smile on her face and an umbrella in hand. She told me that bad weather is actually not so bad, as I would soon see myself.

The sea heaved and roared. It was a gurgling mess of white water, swelling and crashing across the seafront. I was exhilarated. There in front of me was a sweeping, powerful display that seemed totally alien and rightly intimidated me. I had no idea what to do. LC Cpie gave the first introduction. She taught me how to use the body board, and we (more like I) spent the next hour getting pummeled. I have never experienced anything like it before. I now have an idea on how it must feel like inside a working washing machine. How was it possible for my entire body to spin so quickly and somewhat violently in such shallow water? What a way to start my education.

That seemed like a walk in the park compared to my actual surfing lesson. The rain was pouring harder then, and the waves came in from different directions. I had a hard time finding my balance on the board. I kept falling off, and dragging out the surfboard against the strong current again and again was such a workout. The exhaustion and frustration were starting to get to me. And to top it all off, the fins of the surfboard hit me on the head in one instance. No way was I going to give up until I am able to ride my first wave though. When I finally did, it was the best feeling in the world. The water hissed all around me, but in that short moment, all I could feel was the smoothness of the ride and the stability of the board beneath me. Stoked, I think they call it.

It would take lots and lots of practice and hard work out in the sea for me to earn the right to call myself a surfer. I don’t even qualify as a surfer wannabe just yet. I have to seriously work on my paddling if I truly dream of going out to join the line-up and chase waves with other surfers. And it would take a number of six-hour bus rides to and fro La Union; nights spent packing and unpacking; bumps, bruises, and sore muscles. That stoked, exhilarating feeling is worth all that, but what makes La Union extra special and particularly worth coming back to is the wonderful group of people I have come to know and adore.

Team Guido is composed of talented individuals who are bound by their singular love of surfing. Theirs is a tight-knit family who opens its arms and welcomes people who are willing to learn, share, and take part in their simple joys and carefree lifestyle. It has been a pleasure for me to know them, and I always look forward to seeing them again.

Very special thanks to LC Cpie for making all these happen. Thank you for being so generous in sharing your Team Guido family with me and helping me accomplish my surfing goal. You are simply one of the coolest chicks I know, and I’m not lying when I say how inspiring you are.

I’m hoping to ride back up to LU again very soon. I cannot wait to continue my surfing lessons and continue having one of the best learning experiences of my life so far!




Yes friends, I already turned 25 last June 04. I already spent a quarter of a century on the surface of the earth living, working, playing, and somehow feeling apologetic for this super duper late blog update. And yes, my ’25Before25′ project has long expired. Although I thrive in the pressure of time constraints and as much as I wanted to keep my eight-month deadline, I have made the painful but inevitable decision to let go of its original time frame. Upon closer inspection, I’ve realized that even if I tried to be sensible in setting those tasks for myself, they were still unrealistic. I overestimated my ability to complete them in mere eight months, given the resources I can allot to it, my work schedule, and all the other things going on in my life.

On the upside, I’m proud to say that I did not let this setback stop me. I could have easily just scrapped the whole thing altogether, dismissed the idea of demolishing bucket lists as a gallant but frivolous undertaking, quietly swept this little pipe dream under the rug, and forgotten about it. But I didn’t.

However small the steps I’ve taken so far, they have already opened me to new and wonderful people and experiences that I wouldn’t have otherwise come across. As I earnestly endeavored to fulfill my project, I learned that truly doing things is so much more than just crossing off one task after the other. When you open yourself, you get so much in return, and this creates a sense of an overflowing of goodness that leads you not only onward but deeper as well. You will keep coming back for more. That one thing can lead to another, which may not be on the list but is equally if not more worthwhile.

This little adventure of mine started out as a singular mission. It still is, but it has also become a source of a wealth of joy that makes it very hard to stop at just learning to do things, like swimming or surfing. Heck, I want to keep swimming and surfing!

I haven’t been able to chronicle my exploits, but I have made progress. I definitely will share my experiences here soon. And although my eight months have long been up, I will continue to slash off one by one (Battousai style) those that I have yet to accomplish. I’ve been thinking of changing it to ’25@25′, meaning to destroy the list while I’m 25, but I’ve decided against it. This has been a continuing lesson in widening my horizons and creating wonderful opportunities, and I remain to be an eager learner of how to make good things happen. I fully intend to finish what I started, and as life continues to unfold, this project will serve to complement the many blessings and challenges that will come my way, guaranteeing myself a kick-ass year (or years) ahead.


Photo credit:

Kulot! aka 25before25 #3

I said goodbye (for now) to my naturally straight, “virgin” hair and got a digiperm last Monday. After some months vacillating over what it is exactly that I want to do to my locks, I finally chose to just stop thinking about it, left my thoughts by the door, and marched over to the salon. I was wondering whether to have my hair colored, rebonded, or permed. I decided to go for curls, as it’s something I’ve been dying to try for some time. It took real Herculean effort to blow off the mental debate I’ve been having with myself – weighing the pro’s and con’s, worrying about frizziness, and risking damage to my fine strands. And what for? The dream of having those luscious, seemingly effortless, sexy beach babe waves.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Azta Urban Salon Robinson’s Pioneer branch and tried their foot spa. I go to salons primarily for haircuts. I’m really not the type to get my pampering at salons or spas, but pedi’s are starting to become a wee luxury. (More on that some other time.) Their senior stylist offered free hair consultation and suggested the digiperm over rebonding. Since then, he followed up constantly and pretty much made sure they stayed top of mind.

I called ahead to book the appointment right before leaving the house. Good thing I went on a weekday, so the place wasn’t very busy. I armed myself with my own magazine and some food, knowing I’d basically spend the entire afternoon there. The process involved the following steps – rinsing my hair, applying the curling agent, letting it settle, washing it off, winding the curls, heating them up, applying the neutralizer, letting it soak, unraveling the curls, rinsing again, putting on hair treatment, rinsing it off, drying my hair, then lastly, capping it off with some finishing product. All that took about four hours to complete (!), the longest I’ve stayed in a salon. I was patient, became sleepy, got antsy, and finally, tired from all the sitting around.

All those cables attached to my head reminded me of sci-fi alien-y flicks.

But by the time I saw my curls bouncing around on my shoulders, I felt suddenly reenergized. Needless to say, I looovvee the result! The curls are a little too coil-y, but that was expected. I know they’d loosen up with time. I was a very happy girl. 🙂

Ta-da! 🙂

I’m still getting a hang of caring for my new hair, but I really don’t mind the extra step, longer prep time, and all that scrunching and twirling every now and then. I love my curls, even if they do insist on going every which way! All part of the fun, I think. Besides, my straight hair had the same habit. Why then would I deny my twists some unruliness? Haha.

Five days later. So far so good!

Beach babe waves, here I come!


Bubbles: A Lesson in Humility aka 25before25 #1

Some of my fondest summer memories date back to my early years. We would always leave the metro in the wee hours of the morning, and I’d wake up a few hours later to marvel at the glorious sunrise as the bus wound its way round hills and mountains. The mighty sea would finally come into full view, the seemingly endless blue expanse that churned, hummed, and licked with its frothy, white spittle.

I remember having so much fun. We’d bury people in the sand, and I’d collect starfish that surprisingly wiggled back to life, causing me to throw them back into the water in a panic. I didn’t know how to swim, and I was perfectly happy hanging out by the shore. Still, I would beg the adults to take me with them out into the deep, and I loved the sensation I felt when my feet could no longer reach the sand beneath. I didn’t dare let go; my kiddie self was afraid some slimy thing would wrap itself around my ankle and pull me down into the darkness. Oh yes, I imagined a lot of things.

Bohol, Philippines

I somehow wasn’t able to squeeze in the business of learning how to swim as I grew up. The next thing I knew, I was a twenty-something whose only skill in the water was keeping afloat. This is a condition that needs rectification if one of your goals in life is to discover and experience the wonders that this archipelago called the Philippines has to offer. Simply put, living on the islands necessitates that I learn to swim. Scratch that. Living on a planet of water necessitates that I learn to do more than float.

Late last year, I finally decided to do something about it. I signed up for lessons and was thrilled. How hard can it be? I mean, I started life as a tadpole, didn’t I? I would just need to go back to my roots and remember to do what I already could long ago. Sure, I’d probably one of, if not the oldest student, but I didn’t care. One can never be too old to learn, and I have to start somewhere sometime.

On Day one, the coach taught me the first thing there is to know – bubbles. Air in through the mouth. Air out through the nose. Repeat ten times. Up down, up down, up down… as the four year old kid, my only other classmate that time, watched me from behind his goggles. Coach called out to him to carry on practicing his stroke and not be distracted by my little exercise, as his mother and yaya looked on. I won’t lie; it was embarrassing. The kid could run circles around me, while I could only produce a slight disturbance on the surface.

I tell you, at that exact moment, it hit me. Willingness to learn is always a given, but there are other important requirements. The first step to learning or acquiring a new skill is an admission of ignorance, the acceptance of a need or a weakness, and the readiness to surrender control and give your trust to someone who could teach and guide you. Learning requires humility, and that’s not easy.

I confess I wasn’t the best student. I’d have to be at the pool by 7am in my cap and goggles, rain or shine. The water was often cold, and all those warm-up laps really worked me out. I felt quite alone in the water; whether I sink or swim depended entirely on me. My coach watched from above, giving me instructions and calling out my mistakes. Learning the strokes and doing drills over and over were frustrating. I talked a little too much to deflect, but we still managed to stay on track. I knew there was no other way to do it, so I carried on and finished.

At the end of ten sessions, I am qualified now to say that I can swim. I’m still no expert, but I have a newfound confidence when I’m in the water.  It’s the best feeling. The beach and the sea remain to be favorites, and I approach them now with a different kind of excitement. Being in the water feels more natural, easier. It gives me an amazing sense of peace and relaxation that’s hard to replicate elsewhere.

I’m signing up for advanced classes soon. I want to be able to do the strokes well, and I miss swimming regularly. Quite frankly, learning something new gives me such a buzz. I know that that was only the first step, a small key to places I want to go to. Now I can. And that is one of the best things I can give myself.


Sharon on a Mission

It’s time I tell you what my other realization that night was.

As already mentioned, I was online, jumping from one site to the next, oblivious to the passing hours. I got to thinking about my life somehow, and it was serious. I like my work, and I’m surrounded by family and friends. I know I’m in a good place, and I can say I feel settled somehow.

Therein lies the glitch. I never want to get too comfortable.

Like most everyone, there are so many things I want to do, to see, to experience. I know that the world has so much to offer, and the thought that I’m not actually exerting enough effort to make things happen, agonizes me. What’s stopping me, and what am I waiting for? Absolutely nothing and something. It sort of seems complicated, but what I figured out is this: If I so choose, there is nothing that can keep me from doing or being what I want, and whatever that something is, it will follow.

I understand too that time simply does not wait. It does not care if you’d like to stop for a minute and take a breather. It marches on, with or without you. That may sound cruel, but I’m sure life is made all the more better with this fundamental truth in place. It pushes us forward, drives us towards the next step in the cycle.

So the world and time are telling me to get my settled ass moving and eschew my lazy ways.

With 45+ hour work weeks and erratic days off, I always felt I just don’t have the time to pursue my other interests and stuff I care about. I am not allowing myself that excuse anymore. I have to start doing and quit the talking. I’m not going out to change the world or to single-handedly stop global warming though. I want to be realistic with my goals, and I want to be able to accomplish them in a reasonable time frame.

I will be celebrating my 25th birthday in June next year, and it’s the perfect deadline for this mission I’m setting for myself. I’ve drawn up a to-do list with an approximate eight-month shelf-life. That should keep me on my toes. The tasks I chose are hardly life-changing but definitely designed to start and keep the ball rolling. Who knows, by the time I’m done with this, I’d have more than enough chutzpah to chase after bigger, bolder dreams.

Without further ado, here are my 25 things to do before turning 25:

1)      Learn how to swim properlya prerequisite to many other things

2)      Have my back checked

3)      Dye/perm/rebond/______ my hair

4)      Drive myself. For real.this will make my dad happy

5)      Cook dinner at least 2x per week for a month this will make my mom happy

6)      Plant a treeor join a clean-up drive

7)      Start dancing again = love

8)      Write a short story

9)      Learn how to surf

10)  Earn my PADI diver’s license

11)  Travel to a foreign country by myself

12)  Kiss a total strangermay or may not be related to #11

13)  Go bungee-jumping

14)  Learn to play the guitarmust get over painful fingers

15)  Tell a guy that I like himonly if I really do

16)  Join a rally in Mendiola

17)  Go on a blind date just because

18)  Go spelunking in Puerto Prinsesa or Sagada

19)  Begin to learn Spanish

20)  Swim with whale sharks and climb Mt. MayonBicol, I’m still itching to go to you

21)  Sing on a stage in front of a crowd

22)  Take an art class

23)  Submit an article

24)  Treat the whole family to a vacationthis will make everyone happy

25)  Apply for grad schoolfinally 

And here I go. Wish me luck!