Concrete dreams-A A +A
Sunday, January 19, 2014
IT'S just a piece of wood with four wheels and probably, the overrated counterpart of cool, but to John Rex “Dandoy” Tongco, a longboard “saved his life.”
A longboard is obviously the extended variant of the mainstream skateboard. Contrary to myth, longboarding is not a residue of skateboarding.
The sport’s extremity requires the rider to wear a helmet, hand gloves, knee and elbow pads and the proper pair of kicks. Safety first.
Dandoy only skimmed the waves in his teens, in Lapu-Lapu where he’s from, or wherever his board took him and his buddies. To explode as a phenomenal someone was not even (in his) thought. The interest evolved into skateboarding, until Dandoy saw the potential of the next version, which only drew a handful of takers in its early days.
A customized skateboard with reshaped deck and wheels from roller blades was the best longboard Dandoy could assemble back then. Nailing stunts in barefoot was already possible. A progressive circle called Grupo Nopo surfaced and became influential to the transition of the young gun.
Dandoy fell in love with the risk. There was no stopping the raw talent from realizing something he couldn’t imagine himself not doing. But along the trail, his education was compromised, not because of longboarding but because of domestic constraints. He’s the second of four siblings; the son of a tricycle driver who kept his head above water for the family.
The circumstance eventually paved the way to a web of opportunities. The radical kid got out there, swerved, grinded and popped into the scene as the “Double D.”
Looking up to icons Adam Colton and Adam Stokowski, Dandoy, who got discovered for his freestyle maneuvers, is his own rendition of the game with his goofy yet sometimes regular foot stance. In a trip to Siquijor, he pulled the eponymous Siquijor Trick, a varial flip trick in skateboarding seemingly impossible to land in a longboard.
Dandoy attracted a network of sponsors including Loaded, Orangatang, DC Philippines, Driftwood Local Ent. and My Life On Board.
A lineup of exposures rolled in and cemented the career of the teenage champion of the 2010 Singapore Push Don’t Pollute Tournament (his first international stint), the 2011 Rimba Alam Downhill Jam in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the 2012 Thailand Slide Jam and Slalom Competition. Dandoy ended second at the 2013 Rimba staging, the same year he was awarded by the local government of Lapu-Lapu during the city’s 52nd Charter Day celebration.
His break came when his fluidity impressed the Canadian professional skateboarder Patrick Switzer of Greener Pastures Offshore, a global online longboarding web-series aiming to catapult to the field “sick” riders who are confined within limitations and perhaps insecurity.
Together with fellow recruits worldwide, Dandoy was sensational in the five-part documentary filmed in Tenerife Island, Spain last year.
“The Philippines has been sending representatives to the international arena, however, longboarding and skateboarding are still ‘unregistered’ in our country. It’s a privilege to break the irony,” Dandoy related.
He’s excited for new horizons yet he sticks to his roots. He’s still fond of local spots, Cañang Marcelo Luna in Oslob, Cebu, being a favorite. He’s also a constant participant at the annual Visayan Longboarding Trilogy every summer.
Dandoy still longs for education. He is now waiting for the result of a recently completed ladder program. In the ups and downs of the cruise, so to say, he continues to support his family and how natural that sympathy for the needy is! Dandoy is currently involved with relief efforts in the longboarding community for Haiyan survivors.
A random boy surfing the waves under the scorching Wednesday afternoon sun probably looked insane to the average audience. The curious were probably bothered in their heads.
“I gave up academics before because I had to. As a dropout, I could have blended with bad influences, vices for one. Luckily, I was introduced to longboarding, to ‘fun with direction’ as how it was injected to me by a good mentor Juan Duazo. I got stoked. I chose life,” was the rationale of the 20-year old podium-finisher.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 20, 2014.