Travels with Switzer: Eight unforgettable days in the Philippines, Part 2[wptouch target=”mobile”]
Flying in late at night, the locals wasted no time in leaving the city and driving through the night to the south of Cebu to a new found skate spot they were excited to show. Dandoy and Epos had been scouting roads since Dandoy arrived home from Greener Pastures. We woke with the sun and drove up a road I didn’t think possible in the Philippines.
They had struck gold.
After two runs, almost a set of wheels, and a kilo of mangoes we moved on to the first race on the island of Siquijor.
The island is said to have dark mystical past of witches and black magic. In reality the island is a relaxed place where many Filipinos and tourists travel for the white sandy beaches, clear blue ocean, and beautiful landscapes. With a small group we made a motorcycle tour around the island making stops for mangoes and cliff diving! It is amazing to see how so many people can live relatively in the middle of nowhere with simple lives, and be very happy!
This year the first race was run during holidays of Holy Week, bringing the majority of people to the most exciting race location, whereas previous years had been less attended. The qualifying day was run on a new and different road, giving riders the opportunity or difficulty of being as fast as possible on less practiced road. With only one or two practice runs, riders either qualified by basically ‘on-sighting’ the road. Afterwards the group parted ways with the majority going to swim in the series of beautiful rainforest waterfalls. What a way to cool off and relax after an already relaxed day of riding!
Siquijor Park at night
(Kids making a wax boat and candle to send to the ocean)
Race day went as most races do. The Filipinos use a randomized way to setup heats, giving riders the opportunity of riding with more people! Dandoy and I had a surprising amount of runs together and fought each other for the lead, trading off many times. A strong kick and a weight advantage doesn’t mean much when small, strong Filipinos are on the hunt, waiting for the chance to prove themselves. A big crash in the men’s finals changed the possible positions of four riders of six. Dandoy Tongco, the Philippines top rider and also a rider in Greener Pastures Offshore took 1st place!
The day after the race, more serious talks began about hosting a clinic the next day before the second race. Organization of two coaches for each of three groups for advanced, intermediate and beginners (A, B, C) were chosen who together could speak the Filipino dialects and English. A list of skill requirements were written as a guide to what a rider should know to graduate to the next skill level group.
C Group – Beginners
Hand signals (stop “X”, caution “1 hand up”, go “wave thru”)
Foot brake (to stop from moderate speed)
Pushing uphill transitioning to use both feet
Shut down slide (hands down, front and backside)
Ride through a corner closely with a partner (in front and behind)
Slide to knee pads
Initiate standup slide to 90 degrees
B Group – Intermediate
Pre-drift for speed control (small slide then roll away with speed)
Standup slide with moderate speed to slow down (front and backside)
Standup 180 (front and backside)
Revert 180 standup slide & hands down
Standup slide for 3m
Standup slide to a stop
Speed control through a corner with a partner (in front and behind)
A Group – Advanced
Pre-drift with high speed and good line
Speed control through a corner in a small group (changing positions)
Stand up into corner (front and backside)
Switch stand up check front and backside
180 all four ways
Crouch slide front and backside
The rest is up to your imagination!
The location was until then the secret road of my first day’s session. The road is not one to underestimate and therefore a road to push everyone’s skill level. Thus it was secret for a reason. Wanting to open up the possibility of skating this road to the community, we decided this was best done by teaching small groups the skills necessary and slowly guiding them down the 7 kilometre road.
Learning the line
“And if you can do it consistently, then next do it switch!”
The day started by verifying who was the best fit for which skill level group mostly by riders deciding on their own, then testing simple skills to place them within the group they could learn the best from. Each rider started with the most basic training to establish that each person had each particular skill that they should know. As the coach continued through, they could teach on a person by person basis to keep pushing the rider to learn more and more until it was apparent they should move onto the next skill level group with a new coach. Just down the hill (7km run) the next group would be having their lesson. As the day went, we started at the top, session’d corners and sections and made our way to the bottom. In extreme heat this isn’t exactly easy, especially with limited shade and water supply, but in usual Filipino style we made do with what we had and made the most of it!
By the end of the day riders learned what it meant to know their limits and judge a situation by learning the line before adding speed. They learned important lessons of how to setup into a slide or corner through body position, body mechanics and controlling their momentum.
The coaches and riders themselves impressed with how far they had progressed in one day,and they realized how important a session like this could be deciding they’d bring the idea back to their communities across Asia!
Personally I look forward to teach more in this style while traveling internationally. A lot of great lessons can be learned, inconsistencies worked on, and overall balance in ones riding can only help.
The second race in the VLT series was only a ten minute drive from our clinic location!
The next day riders loaded up in whatever mode of transportation would get them up to the race hill.
Boljoon is a narrow road hugging the edge of a steep decline with nice pavement in what seems a paradise of palm trees as far as you can see. Riders are eliminated by one-on-one heats making every move a challenge of strategy. The crash corner is safetied by a row of rice husk bags and a meter high net to catch the fallen rider from flying down the 10+ meter decline, making for a great show of “hold on for your life” as you fall! This is where riders, spectators and local people pile into the small section of flat land on the corner.
Most the day while not riding is spent hiding from the sun. Thus the race is held very relaxed and slow with loser brackets with the chance to move back into the race.
Epos, an OG of the Philippines longboard scene, played his cards right and took the race at the line! With his wife and son watching it made for a legendary day.
1st & 2nd Leg Open Champions, Dandoy & Epos
2nd Leg Junior Champions
2nd Leg Ladies Champions
After the race the group made the journey to a mountain top resort where we were served buffet, had awards and recapped the events so far, giving thanks to all the people who made their way from across Asia to VLT!
We also gave away Orangatang InHeats as prizes to three riders who were hand-picked by their clinic instructors as the riders who learned the most during the day.[sam id=”8″ codes=”true”]
Epos speech to the crew
Unfortunately I had to make my way to Japan and miss the last race of VLT (which Dandoy again took 1st place). But before I left, Jukka gave me the chance to visit the home of GrupoNopo in Cebu.
Lapu Lapu Grupo Nopo Home
I was told time and time again what it meant for Dandoy and the Filipino community to have been given the opportunity to be in Greener Pastures Offshore. Understanding this from any young riders perspective, I had my breath taken away when seeing where these boys came from and knowing the accomplished, hard working, beautiful people they are. Filipinos are absolutely the most resourceful, enthusiastic and lighthearted people I’ve come to know. In Dandoy’s situation, he’s earned everything that has come to him, and has been a good man doing his part to help his family along the way!
Dandoy, Toeside Manual Predrift 180 Fakie check out
Special thanks to Ryan of Driftwood and Jukka of Free Energy Coop.
Ryan of Driftwood
Info for next year!
Free Energy Coop is beginning to plan a bigger and better VLT for 2014 that will be aimed at bringing together people from all over Asia! Entertaining the idea of hosting clinics, I will be coming back to host a three day free-ride/race clinic before VLT and again clinics between each of the events, with the third race this time said to be at Mt. Samat west of Manila! VLT in 2014 will be organized in the hopes of bringing people together, educating the whole and allowing the knowledge, excitement and stoke spread throughout Asia!
We hope to see you there![sam id=”9″ codes=”true”]