Borongan Surf City opens the the first and the biggest surf tournament in the Philippines after 2-year pandemic hiatus.
The official opening was led by the City Government of Borongan, December 6, Monday. This is the second Surf in the City event at the Baybay Boulevard in Borongan, Eastern Samar.
This is a long anticipated event after surfing went on a hiatus for 2-years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 200 surfers from 6 regions – Ilocos Region, Central Luzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Davao, and Caraga Region – are competing in this year’s event, the first ever national surfing competition to open in the Philippines during the pandemic era. The number of participants doubled from when it was first hosted by Borongan City in December 2019.
Borongan City Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda officially broke the board, signifying the opening of the competition, alongside Philippine Surfing Championship Tour (PSCT) representative Bjorn Alipayo and Eastern Samar Surfriders Club President Myrel Santos during the opening ceremonies.
“We are very happy to host this event again. This is a big step towards making Borongan City the surfing capital of the Eastern Visayas region. Our goal is to raise local athletes who can compete in the international arena. At the same time, we want people to come to Borongan, enjoy our tourist sites, learn surfing, and experience the hospitality of our city,” Mayor Agda said.
Health protocols in place
Hosting a nationwide event during the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging. The city had to put in place strict health protocols that athletes are mandated to follow. All participants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Participants and organizers also underwent antigen swab tests, sponsored by Savepoint Plus Philippines.
In the competition grounds, surfers must wear their face masks when not competing. Anyone who violates this rule will be automatically disqualified from the competition, and will be asked to pay the city’s imposed fines.
According to Surf in the City Chair Rupert Ambil, the organizers’ highest priority is the public health safety of the participants and the city residents.
“Even if we are hosting a national competition, public health safety remains our top priority given that we are still in the middle of the pandemic. We are strictly monitoring our athletes’ compliance to our minimum health standards, and we’ve encouraged residents to be disciplined in their interactions with our visitors,” Ambil said.
Borongan City has a low risk COVID-19 classification. The city recorded only 1 active case of COVID-19 as of November 24. Furthermore, Mayor Agda noted that the city has reached more than 90% of the 70% inoculation target in the city.
“We are making sure that Surf in the City is a COVID-safe event. This surfing competition not only aims to bring good vibes to our surfers and residents, and provide national exposure to our local surfing community, but to show other local government units that it is possible to host such events amid the pandemic,” Ambil said.
Aside from surfing, Surf in the City will host other sporting events during the week-long festival from December 6 to 12. This includes beach football, skateboarding, and skimboarding. Wakeboarding national team member Carlo dela Torre ran a demonstration of the sport on December 5 while Olympian Margielyn Didal is also in Borongan to give insights on how to open a skateboarding park in the city.
“While we want to make Borongan the surfing capital of the region, our goal goes beyond one sport. We want to give Borongan youth the option to try whatever sport they like. The city government pledges to support any local athlete who wants to compete in a national or international event. They will bring pride to the city,” Mayor Agda noted.
For the organizers, it’s all about putting Borongan on the map.
“The city of Borongan and the province of Eastern Samar has a lot to offer in terms of tourism. Of course, surfing is our selling point to potential tourists, but we want them to explore everything that our city has to offer. In the post-COVID recovery, we really see sustainable sports tourism as a way to boost the local economy,” Ambil said.
Surf in the City will serve as the first leg of the 2022 PSCT. Borongan has already committed to host the event in December 2022 to close the surfing tour. Surf in the City is the only surfing competition in the Philippines where competitors get to surf inside the city, along the shores of the iconic Baybay Boulevard of Borongan.
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. The competition is supported by the Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Partylist, Savepoint Plus Philippines, and Globe Telecom.
For more information, please contact Bong Santisteban at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 0966-983-2013.