GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island – Local surfers showed off their skills in the epic semifinals and in the championship round of the 20th Siargao National Surfing Cup, held last week in General Luna.
Two of the top surfers from Siargao Island went head-to-head in the finals, after competing against 96 Filipino surfers from Zambales, La Union, Baler, Ilocos Norte, Manila, Cantilan, Catanduanes, Davao Oriental, and Siargao.
John Mark Tokong, ranked No. 4 in the Philippine Surfing Championship Tour (PSCT), was crowned the overall champion after garnering 19.20 points against PSCT No. 2 Edito "Piso" Alcala, who had 17.60 points.
"I am very happy, I was like hoping for this but now I can't believe that I won the competition. Last year, I really did not do so well, so I’ve been training myself for the year and preparing for the PSCT," said the 21-year-old Tokong, who hails from Siargao Island.
"The finals was such a great match. We’re very lucky because of a lot waves are coming in and we had some very critical hits, so because Piso is a really good surfer, I was lucky to have selected and performed well on some of the best swells on the competition," he added.
Tokong's surfing journey started when he was just six-years-old, when he first rode the waves in Cloud 9.
"What started as a recreational sport in our town of General Luna, has evolved us to be able to compete with the best in the world. I’ve competed 5 times in Indonesia and then twice in Australia and then the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games in Japan," he revealed.
"Competing here in the Philippines through the PSCT and then against the foreign surfers was not only an amazing experience for me but a huge learning process," he added.
"Our last trip in Japan we gained a lot since there were professional surfers from 42 countries competing, and I’ve learned from my mistakes and what I need to fix and hopefully train more for more international competitions."
In the first heat of the semifinals, Tokong took down PSCT No. 1 Philmar Alipayo, 16.00 points to 13.35.
In the second heat, Alcala defeated PSCT No. 3 Neil Sanchez, 7.50 points to 5.45, to set up the finals showdown that Tokong then dominated.
Ma. Ana T. Nuguid, regional director of the Department of Tourism in Caraga region, pointed out that the popularity of surfing has enabled and helped the growth of the tourism industry of Siargao to where it is now.
“Siargao has grown exponentially over the past few years, and the growth and spur of tourists in the island was sparked with the popularity of surfing and the growth of the tourism sport industry especially when Siargao was branded as the surfing capital of the Philippines with the famous Cloud 9 of Siargao,” said Nuguid.
Records from Caraga Regional Tourism Office showed that some 15,000 tourists visited Siargao Island in 2017, a 25 percent increase from 2016.
The regional office is yet to release the data of tourist arrival in Siargao Island for first quarter of 2018.
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