A TRANSWOMAN athlete and a person with disability (PWD) licensed instructor caught the attention of visitors and over 200 participants during the official opening of 2021 Surf in the City in Borongan City, Eastern Samar Monday, December 6, 2021.

“I want to see more LGBTQ+ representation in surfing. Many people support me. This competition is a good avenue for people to recognize that there is a surfer who is proudly transgender,” said surfer Florentino Gubaton III, also known as Dods Taylor.

Gubaton, a proud trans woman who is competing in a national surfing tournament for the first time, introduced herself as “Siargao’s Island Princess” while advocating for better LGBTQ+ representation, especially for the trans community, in the surfing industry.

Gubaton said she experienced discrimination for her gender.

However, with the support of the Siargao surfing community, she gained the confidence to be proud of the community she is representing.

“When I face discrimination, I don’t pay attention. I just continue fighting. Where I come from, there’s really discrimination, especially because I cross-dress. But eventually, they stopped discriminating me and started supporting me. They got used to it and they became proud of me,” the 22-year-old Siargao native said.

As Gubaton competed in the 2021 Surf in the City, she hoped to wave the pride flag high to encourage her community to join the sport.

Jesus Lawrence “Eboy” Quitorio, a 27-year-old local surfer from Borongan City, also made an impression during the event.

A PWD with speech and movement difficulties, Quitorio was also competing in the Men’s Open Short Board category of the national surfing competition.

Because of his family’s circumstances, he has not been given any official medical diagnosis.

In October 2021, Quitorio made waves when he became the first Filipino surfer to become an accredited surfing instructor by the International Surfing Association.

He underwent training as part of the Surfriders Club of Eastern Samar’s (SCES) preparation for hosting Surf in the City.

“It feels great to surf. It is enjoyable and it makes me forget my problems,” said Quitorio, who borrowed surfboards from his friends when he started surfing.

For his exceptional determination, the Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Partylist donated P10,000 to Quitorio during the opening ceremony of Surf in the City.

Meanwhile, Surf in the City Chair Rupert Ambil said the competition welcomes athletes from all walks of life.

“Dods is an example of how surfing can bring everyone together. Everyone is welcome to join the sport. We want to be more inclusive and supportive of all communities,” Ambil said.

He added that Quitorio’s participation during the competition is also “an example of how surfing can provide opportunities to the youth of Borongan.”

“Our dream for this competition is to train local surfers and empower them to compete in international surfing events. We believe that with the right support, the next surfing gold medalist can come from Borongan,” Ambil added.

Surf in the City is co-presented by the City Government of Borongan, the Surfriders Club of Eastern Samar, and the Philippine Surfing Championship Tour.

It also gained support from the Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Partylist, Savepoint Plus Philippines, and Globe Telecom.