20 Questions With Elaine Abonal
Summer is in full swing and we wanted to inspire you by getting to know this surfer and super-mama who truly lives and loves under the SUN!
1. How did you get into surfing?
I was studying in the US when I was 17 years old and I went to Florida for spring break. On the beach, I saw surfers and surfer boys and I was super curious about what that was all about! I've always loved the beach and the ocean and seeing young people who had their whole lives dedicated to the ocean and got to play with waves got me inspired to getting into the same lifestyle!
So when I got back to the Philippines, I researched on the internet if we had surfing anywhere since we're a country full of beaches and next to the Pacific Ocean. Then I found that surf lessons were offered in San Juan, La Union. I took the public bus with 4 other guy friends when I was 18 years old and during my first year of university. I took my first lessons from the locals and I got hooked! I never stopped surfing since and my whole life revolved around surfing since then.
2. Any tips for first time surfers?
Remember that everything takes time - the professional surfers make it look so easy but that means they went out in the waves hundreds of times, wiped out hundreds of times, drank gallons of water before they were able to get so good. Don't be too hard on yourself. Take it one wave, one surf session, one day at a time. Always remember to have FUN because if it isn't fun anymore, what is the point?
Also know that surfing is 90% paddling and 10% standing up. So if you're still getting pushed into a wave and not reading the waves by yourself, you've got way to go. Always surf with a friend. Challenge yourself but also know your limits. Get to know the ocean, the waves, the tides and everything about it because the whole surfing experience isn't just about standing up on the board.
3. What’s your favorite wave in the world?
That's a hard one! I love the point in La Union, Daku in Siargao, Midigama in Sri Lanka
4. Can you share your most memorable surfing experience?
It's hard for me to pick just one since I've been doing it for so long. But right now, I fondly think about memories of being a teenager and in university when we had to travel at night either on a night bus or doing carpools with friends to La Union, Zambales or Baler from Manila. We would be so excited to surf at sunrise when we arrived no matter how tired we were, or how little sleep we had or even how bad the waves were. The camaraderie in the water and with new friends was so nice. The surf community was still small and everyone knew each other and we felt like we were in a special group where we were doing something so unique from what everyone else was doing in the world.
5. How long have you been living in Siargao?
I first visited Siargao 20 years ago. I've been living here part time for around 10 years and now full time for 7 years.
6. What’s your favorite thing about living on the island?
I have a lot of favorite things about it! Besides the fact that we are next to the ocean and that there are waves everyday, I love the simplicity of living here. Here you don't need much to be happy or feel fulfilled, people need less and are more connected to nature. I also love the community here - especially the mom community. I love the sounds of the crashing waves and birds in the morning, the frogs and crickets at night, the fact that a carabao can hold up traffic, that you can go barefoot in restaurants and grocery stores, that I can put flowers in my hair and that smiles are abundant everywhere.
7. Tell us a little about Surfista Travels.
It started as a surf tour company in 2012 where I would bring groups of people from Manila to La Union and Baler for the weekend to learn surfing. I then added Siargao as a destination and hosted camps - even had special surf and yoga camps. I then relocated to Siargao Island and started calling it Surfista Siargao. The surf and tourism scene had changed drastically then so I stopped surf camps and focused on surfing lessons and packages instead and included surfing photography with my husband. My husband and I were both certified in Bali by the International Surfing Association as Surf Instructors. We specialize in teaching beginners, women and children. Most of our clients are families and international and Filipino tourists who would like to learn how to surf in a professional, fun and safe way (not just being pushed in the water). We are very detailed when we teach surfing and make sure that our students some day become independent and competent surfers.
8. We love your posts with your daughter Tala! How has motherhood changed you?
Thank you! I've always wanted to be a mother. Motherhood has changed me in a way where anything I do isn't just for myself anymore. My main priority is my daughter - her safety and what is best for her. I feel like I've done so much in my life for myself that it's time to give back to someone else - my daughter. It's a struggle sometimes when I want to do things for or by myself (especially since we don't have a nanny o family on the island), but I remember that it was my choice to be her Mama and that time with her is fleeting so I must enjoy it.
9. What do you love most about being a mom?
10. What is a good age for kids to try surfing?
My daughter started at 3 years old but we started putting her on a surfboard since she was a year old. I wouldn't say there would be a good or perfect age but I would say that the best time for them to try surfing is when they have a genuine interest to do it (no forcing!) and when they are confident in the water and know how to keep their heads out when they fall in. My 3 year old surfs with a life vest but she already had swimming lessons and knows how to float and swim a little bit without the life vest.
11. Aside from surfing, what else are you passionate about?
At the moment, motherhood! But I've also always loved photography / documentation and writing.
12. What or who has been inspiring you recently?
13. Do you have a mantra? Or words you try to live by?
Carpe diem, seize the day. Live every day as if it were your last and treat people in a way where they will remember your kindness and how you treated them in case you or they are gone the next day.
Todo es posible. Everything is possible.
Have courage and be kind.
14. How do you stay positive when things get tough?
I always remember the words someone told me, "This too shall pass." the hard times will not always last and that our attitude and how we see the world is much more important than what is actually happening. Mental and emotional strength is very important and will make you survive when the world seems to be ending (for us, for example during Typhoon Odette).
I also always keep in mind what my mom tells me about magic, kindness and angels all around us and the more positive we think about people or experiences, the more of it we will get. I highly believe in the laws of attraction and manifestation!
15. Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Definitely an early bird!
16. Salty or sweet?
Oooh depends on my mood! Both!
17. Any foods that you try to eat to help keep your skin healthy?
I try to eat as healthy as I can in terms of veggies and fruits but I definitely drink a LOT of water.
18. Any guilty pleasures?
If I could have a massage every day haha I would do it!
19. What social cause(s) do you care about and why?
I feel strongly about women / female empowerment and giving girls and women a voice when they don't have any or if they don't have a platform to do it. Whether it be loving themselves in their own skin (especially the morena Filipinas), doing what they love and not being limited by the fact that they are female (like surfing!) or by standing up for themselves when they feel that they are being discriminated against.
20. If you could pick only 3 of our products that you can’t live without, what would they be?
Sunscreen, moisturizer and hair conditioner!
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Elaine a little better. We are stoked to have her as part of our tribe! Have a great summer ahead.
Team Parasol Y Mar