AT LEAST 25 members of surfing community in Borongan City, Eastern Samar have recently graduated from water search and rescue training facilitated by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
“We are not only surfers, but also first responders,” said Rupert Ambil II, president of the Surf Riders Club of Eastern Samar, who organized the event with the help of its members and the support of the community to strengthen local resilience.
This is the first time surfers from four surf spots trained together, and also the first training activity for the PCG in Eastern Visayas since the pandemic began in 2020.
“I want to emphasize that because of my experience in covering disasters, that we should promote the culture of preparedness in all members of the community, that we should find strength in our existing assets and develop it. In times of need, we are ready to help,” Ambil added.
According to Ambil, Borongan has recently been highlighted as the surfing capital of the Visayas, but the city now has a greater reason to stand tall.
“In this regard, Borongan plans not to be just the surfing capital of Visayas, but to also be known for training first responder-surfers,” he said.
Ambil maintained that the training series “is also in preparation for more capacity-building opportunities that are programmed for surfers in Eastern Visayas by the regional office of the Department of Tourism.”
“Surfing brought us together and we hope to give not just the stoke of riding waves, but also the confidence in saving other people in times of need. It’s not a question of if, but when. The 2013 super typhoon Yolanda is one of the lessons that we will never forget. We remember the mistakes and the lessons, and we use that to prepare,” he said.
“There are two more training sessions that will be conducted, one for disaster risk reduction and lifesaving, the other for Surfing Instructors accreditation. All of these skills complement in shaping the image of our emerging surf industry not only in our province of Eastern Samar, but for the whole of Region 8,” Ambil added.
The group thanked the support of National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director and Civil Defense Administrator Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, the PCG, Borongan Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agfa, and Borongan Vice Mayor Emmanuel Tiu Sonco. (SunStar Philippines)