Stand Up Paddle Surfing...

Recently, I got a chance to do some stand up paddle surfing using a Walden model SUP , while on location at Noosa Heads, Queensland, Australia. I was on site to shoot the Noosa Festival of Surfing, brought to you by Global Surf Industries. I can't even begin to describe the caliber of "FUN" that these vessels provide. Not only are they great for surfing, but also for all around cruising the coastlines, or any body of water for that matter. It provides an excellent core, leg and shoulder workout, as well as pure fun while navigating scenic vistas, or Surfing your favorite break.

cruising along the Noosa coast on a Steve Walden Performance Stand Up Paddle Board

Philippine Pro Long Boarder and Aloha Team Rider, Ian Saguan with friend Mia Sebastian

Matt Harbour from Global Surf Industries and Yaz Maksut of Catch that Wave Productions

Dimo on the SUP

Mabuhay Magazine April 2008, Surfing the Philippines

"Surfing Philippines" article for Philippine Airlines In flight magazine April 2008 written and shot by Mark Dimalanta. (Opening photo displaying surfboards shot by Jake Verzosa)

The emerging Surf Culture in the Philippine Islands is still in its infantile stage. Editorials such as these are aimed at acquainting the young crowd with the booming subculture that is taking the country by storm, literally. Being a photojournalist, who happens to also surf, makes it all the more special to guide the young eager surfers on the who, where and what to do with surfing. Happy Surfing!

the original text and additional photos:
How surfing is rapidly changing our popular culture.
–the how, who and where of our sport.

Text/Photos By: Dr. Mark Dimalanta
All surfboards, products and clothing provided by Aloha Boardsports, Inc.

The idyllic life of a traveling surfer is never more quenched then through the experiences that may be found surfing the Philippine Islands. In the world of surf journalism, the Philippine archipelago is as intriguing as it is obscure, definitely a secret waiting to be unlocked. I’m from Huntington beach California, otherwise known as “Surf City, USA”, also the hub of the surfing world’s global 7.5 billion dollar per year industry. Despite having everything I need with regard to satiating my surf appetite (warm weather, close proximity to year round waves, bikinis galore), not a day goes by, where I’m constantly dreaming of returning home and surfing the tropical warm waters of the Philippine Islands.

My love affair with the country began more than 11 years ago after moving to Manila to earn my degree in Medicine at UERM MMC. I befriended a few local manila surfers, and together we explored these islands during our weekend breaks and holidays. The only other person who surfed with passion for the sport during those days just happened to be sitting next to me, in a hot and stuffy lecture hall. Neil Dumaran, of Kaneohe Hawaii. It had to be fate. In hindsight, what I realized was that we were a decade too early. During the 90’s no one sported tans, no one liked the beach, unless it was Boracay, and there was nary a bikini in sight. People assumed we were crazy to travel hours to reach the beach, brave the ocean to surf to our hearts content, and fry our skin to a golden brown.

the original manila crew in zamblaes 1998

Surfing, in this country, has traditionally been a sport of the ex-pat, or for the local surfers who luckily, lived within beach provinces that actually had waves. Back then, there weren’t too many resorts that catered to surfing as a lifestyle. For the island of Luzon, the most accessible beach town was Zambales and the most developed was La Union.

Fast forward 10 years later and the “surfing craze” here in the country has been further facilitated through the efforts of Onboard Philippines, a collaborative effort undertaken in partnership with the Philippine Department of Tourism. Onboard Philippines centers on the aligned initiatives of the local tourism sector and one of the country’s leading surfing advocates, Aloha Board Sports Inc. led by owner Freddy Gonzalez, to promote the Philippines as a premier surfing destination.

Freddy’s efforts solved the biggest problem (the non-availability of product) that stalled the progression of our sport. These days surf shops are sprouting up and the enthusiast now has local access to premium-imported products at more affordable prices. Brands such as Town & Country, Volcom, Lost, Channel Islands, Southpoint, 7S, Sector 9, Da Kine, etc. just to name a few, are all readily available through Aloha Board Sports.

Team Aloha Board Sports

So what makes surfing so special? To answer that may be an enigma in itself where a qualitative answer may only be found if you actually take the time to try surfing for yourself. From its outside appearance, surfers always seem happy and look healthy. The cardio vascular sport cuts their bodies into fine shape. The reality is that it is something more complex. It is a harmony with yourself and your environment. After all, our sport is dependent on Mother Nature; its weather patterns and our responsibility to ensure that the water we surf in remains clean and safe. We are so captivated by our sport that we often spend moments, if not hours staring at the grace and power of the waves and the picturesque beauty of the beach. A tennis player hardly can spend hours staring at his court with admiration like how a surfer adores his ocean. Maybe it’s the challenge in it all, from the initial ‘stoke’ of our first wave, until our last. It is always a dedication to improving our skill and celebrating each wave to its fullest. Maybe its because each wave is unique providing a different elation each time. So few things in life match the exhilaration achieved by “taking the drop, bottom turning, and setting your line deep in the tube”, especially in waves so scary that they can kill you. Maybe that is the definition, the respect a surfer must have for nature and his abilities in order to achieve his ultimate “high”.

Well times have definitely changed and what seemed like a rogue, anti-culture sport has now blossomed into a recreational revolution which will only prove beneficial to our country. If I were to name a few destinations to wet my appetite for surf they would be: Zambales, La Union, Baler, Pagudpud, Calicoan Island at Eastern Samar, and Lanuza of Surigao del Sur.

The region of Zambales provides endless miles of coastline with immeasurable amounts of surf. The benefit of Zambales is its proximity to manila, being only a short 3-hour drive. I can only imagine the improved travel with the expressway from Clark air base to Subic only a few years off. From Pundakit village in San Antonio to the extent of Iba, energy from the South China Sea sends waves for all skill levels. Beginner waves can be found at Crystal beach and expert reefs can be found only a short banka ride off the coast to the Capones Islands.

view of the Capones Islands from the coast of Zambales

La Union, which in some circles is the birthplace of surfing for manila based surfers, is the much coveted weekend getaway. From the historic Mona Liza resort, the soulful San Juan Surf Camp and to the posh Little Surf Maid, La Union provides varying accommodations to suit any budget. Wave quality ranges from beginner friendly to expert depending on the size of the swell. It’s a short 5.5-hour bus ride, and an even quicker drive. For lessons, equipment rentals or purchase visit “Lukie” Landrigan at San Juan Surf Camp.

Sadam Faraon backside snap at the beachbreak of la union

Baler, in the region of Aurora province is home to one of the best right hand reef breaks. Not by my words but through word of mouth, “Cementos” is a perfect barrel if swell size permits. Despite the rapid crowds that are forming the wave will take care of itself. When it reaches overhead size, it generally weeds out the crowds where most are left watching from the platform and only expert riders need apply. As a general rule of caution, I remind surfers new and old to respect the wave and understand their abilities. Baler offers so many waves from Sabang beach break, Charlie’s point (where they filmed the Coppola movie “Apocalypse Now”) Cemento reef, and many other unnamed breaks. The beauty of this destination is the scenic vistas available when going there by mountain route.

the viewdeck at cemento reef, baler philippines

Pagudpud to the far north is accessible best by a 1-hour plane ride with 3 hour van ride, or a 10-12 hour drive. There at Kapuluan Vista Resort one may find elegant amenities, world-class waves, and family styled hospitality. Its one of the few resorts where the owners Mike and Alma Oida will happily attend to your comforts as well as surf along side you. Be careful Mike is brilliant on the “shortie” as well as the longboard, so waves may come far and few between if he’s out in your lineup. KVR can provide the exhilaration of pounding surf out front, tranquility of its clear blue lagoon, or simply the serenity of the in house swimming pool. Pagudpud was the site for Onboard philippines’ maiden voyage, wherein team riders from both Aloha Board Sports and Town & Country Hawaii shared culture, waves, and friendship.

the view from Kapuluan Vista Resort, Pagudpud

“The Surf Camp” at Calicoan Island in eastern Samar is the “Amanpulo” for surfers. With 5 star luxuries amidst an elegant tropical landscape, it is truly a heaven on earth. Take away the wave out front at “ABCD” beach and you would still have a world-class destination. Thankfully for us surfers, this resort packs a wallop in sensory pleasure from the exotic architecture, breathtaking scenery, and perfect “A frame” waves of crystal clear water. It is also home to the “Philippine S.P.Y. academy” where one can book a luxury vacation to learn Surfing, Poi (a cardio vascular art form of “zipping” or fire spinning), and Yoga.

A sensory treat at Calicoan Island, Eastern Samar

Lanuza to the south in Surigao del Sur is a sleeping giant relative to its famous neigbor Siargao and “cloud 9”. The perfect right hand barrels at cloud 9 have been so over crowded these days to garner the new moniker of “crowd – 9”. When in that part of the country, Lanuza is proving to offer world-class waves with an almost non-existent lineup. Onboard Philippines surfed lanuza on its second stop of their tour with the gracious hospitality of Mayor and surfer Geri Irizari. Lanuza is the most remote of the list and that’s where it draws most of its charm. Dense tropical palms line the beaches that are packed with perfect unridden waves. Each day out, one can journey to find new waves. Remember to respect the locals; surfers hate crowds, and that is why we are always on a quest for an empty wave. If mutual respect is honored then we all can find peace in the lineups.

searching for waves in surigao del sur

getting shacked somewhere in lanuza

Surfing is a gift from our Polynesian ancestors. It was their sport of kings and it is truly an elevated life experience. Maybe that is why local surfers become territorial to their home break. For all the destinations I described, there is a pre-existing local surf culture with known waves ready to welcome your surf appetite. Onboard Philippines is not aimed at exposing the secret spots of our country, but rather invite you to the areas that are already catering to the surf lifestyle. Besides, surfers are exploratory in nature and I leave it up to your own initiative to find waves off the beaten path. We believe that secret spots should remain that, but our initiatives hope to bolster the local economy and usher in the art and sport of surfing throughout the Philippines.

Happy surfing…

For more information email the author at:

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Rogue Magazine April 2008

I shot and wrote the article entitled: "Why We Surf", for the April 2008 Issue of Rogue Magazine

the original text posted with images that didn't make the final layout, but i included here to complete the story:

Why We Surf.
For Rogue Magazine, April 2008
By: Mark Dimalanta

What is it that drives a surfer to charge down the face of a 20’ beast that is more than willing to bite down with razor sharp coral teeth, risk their body being battered and “rag dolled” with a force of what feels like a million pounds of pressure; and all detonating over a mere few feet of water? When probed on this question, famous Banzai Pipeline pioneer Gerry Lopez described the rush of big wave charging like this, “ riding waves so scary, that you die just a little each time” but in that moment you experience the most lucid form of living.

Surfing, the ancient sport of Polynesian kings, entails more than what it simply appears to be. It is a lifestyle that embodies a harmony between Mother Nature and the surfer, themselves. Hollywood seldom ever gets it right. Surfing is not Keanu Reeves in “Point Break”, or Sean Penn in Fast times at Ridgemont High. Perhaps the closest Hollywood depiction was the story of 3 lifelong friends in “Big Wednesday.” The premise of this classic showcased 3 young men who grew up with the common bond of surfing and faced life’s challenges in differing ways.

One of the greatest things about surfing is that it is nearly impossible to capture it in words, which is why so many of us continue to guard our sport and lifestyle and never even attempt to openly address what we all realize it to be… “a tangible efficiency of beauty and perfection”. I have said time and time again, that surfing can only be qualitatively judged by those who participate in it. Many may admire it from a distance, but nothing much in this life comes close to the elation one derives from gliding across water. Well I can think of one thing, but even that can become transient and will cost you a dinner and fine wine. Surfing is as free as the open ocean. All it takes is your will to try. Like the cliché says, “only a surfer knows the feeling.”

The world of surfing is highly visible to the masses with the World Championship Tour (WCT), wherein the best surfers in the world, like Kelly Slater (8X ASP world champion), Andy Irons (3X ASP world champion), or CJ Hobgood (2001 ASP champion, & reigning US Open of Surfing Champ) travel the world to exotic places to showcase their talent. Kelly was the first “million dollar man”, scoring the first ever multi million-dollar contract for Quiksilver Clothing. Besides being the most gifted surfer to ever grace this earth, he has been on People’s Sexiest man alive list several times over, and lucky enough to garner this unique accolade… After a shooting of the annual Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit issue, and in a poll of all the hottest supermodels to the likes of Alessandra Ambrosio and Adriana Lima, when asked whom they all would love to be with, the unanimous vote was for Mr. 8X ASP himself, Kelly Slater. After living a seasoned life and no matter how spicy, a comment like that is what I would want on my epitaph.

No longer are surfers portrayed as the bum on the beach with no direction. Kelly was one of the first surfers to legitimize 6 or 7 figure salaries and was the face of Channel Islands Surfboards and Quiksilver. He is a musician, humanitarian, and a strong advocate for a “Green” lifestyle and preserving his “office,” which happens to be beach. In Kelly’s words, “Surfing for me has always been a way to find things out about myself. It gives me really good feedback about my life… it shows me where I’m doing well and where I can improve.”

According to Evan Slater, the editor in chief of Surfing Magazine, “Surfing isn’t necessarily going mainstream, it’s the mainstream that’s going surfing…” Some Celebrities who share a passion for surfing include international stars like: Elle Macpherson, Gisele Bundchen, Paul Walker, Alessandra Ambrosio, Jack Johnson and the late Heath Ledger. Local Stars include: Jericho Rosales, Heart Evangelista, Iya Villania, Maike Evers, and Christina Bartges.

Despite the threat of over-commercialization, surfing will always remain at its essence, Pure. After winning the 2007 US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, California, CJ Hobgood put it like this, “Stripped down, without all the hype and competitions, Surfing will always take care of itself, because of the love the people have for the ocean.” What I admire most about CJ is his Piety and love of family first. Having stern values and being a family man with much to lose, its awe inspiring to watch him “take the drop” and get “shacked” (getting barreled riding inside the hollow of a wave) into some of the scariest waves at the Banzai Pipeline and Theaupoo. Whether it be a simple wooden plank or the new space age carbon-epoxy-thingamajig, at its purest it’s about the surfer, his board, the wave and how they interact.

Of the many faces of surfing, the most inspirational is the free-surfer who surfs for their own enjoyment, as well as those who have transcended obstacle because of their will to surf. I met a doctor who was at a point in his life where he felt he actualized all of his ambitions. He was on the cuff of a rewarding Medical career, but his aspiration was cut short due to a debilitating disease that robbed him of his mobility. He felt all was lost, he lived his life without passion, and could only dream of the things which gave him happiness. This doctor had surfed his whole life, always waking each morning with life and fire excited to surf with his mates, and share the gifts of the ocean. When he fell ill, it was the drive to surf once more that fueled his recovery. With modern medical technology, diligent physical therapy, the restorative powers of water, which alleviated his symptoms; and with the spiritual healing of Surfing, the doctor quelled his ailments and is back to a lifestyle of Surfing, never taking for granted what he almost lost.

How about Bethany Hamilton, the promising young female surfer who at the age of 13 almost lost her life when she was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark. The attack left her with a severely severed left arm that had to be amputated. Because of her faith, support from family and her love of surfing Bethany survived the corrective surgeries, despite sustaining 60% blood loss, and recovered with an unbelievable positive attitude. Uncertain of her future or the possibility of ever surfing again, she made the decision to give one-armed surfing a shot. Amazingly, she returned to the water within only a month’s time of her attack. She is now back to competitive surfing and uses her ordeal as an inspiration to help others overcome their adversities. In her words, “People I don’t even know come up to me. I guess they see me as a symbol of courage and inspiration. One thing hasn’t changed, and that’s how I feel when I’m riding a wave. It’s like, here I am. I’m still here. Its still me and my board in God’s ocean!”

So, why do we surf? Health and fitness, or spiritual cleansing? The bottom line is that it’s just downright cool, the music, the life; it’s living a dream… Besides more and more women surf, surfing begets fitter bodies, which translates into firm abs and firmer buns that are always a welcoming view when paddling back out to the lineup. Maybe its because it’s organic and always evolving. Even the most seasoned veteran has something to learn on each wave and will explore to any length to experience it. Perhaps that is the hook, surfing is never static or boring, each wave is unique with a different outcome. It’s the honeymoon that never ends. “til’ death do us part…”

So I offer you one challenge amidst your hustling life in Manila, Los Angeles, or maybe NYC, don’t just surf the Internet… surf waves. We should only be so lucky, our beautiful country, our Philippines is blessed with well over 7000 islands, packed with waves and endless coastline. Some of the best surfers in the world are Filipino, Dustin Cuizon, Tamayo Perry, Mikala Jones, Freddy Pattachia, just to name a few. Truly something to enjoy and be very proud of, and if you let it, surfing will definitely change your life…

Oh, remember that doctor I was telling you about? I knew him pretty well, because that doctor was me. Since my recovery, I have put down the stethoscope and picked up my surfboard and camera. It has been a new mission for me. A life rewritten to spread the Gospel of Surf, and share the images it encompasses. The will to surf again, preserved my life and may even have the same therapeutic benefits for you.

Happy surfing.

For more information email the surfdoc at:

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Dustin Cuizon wins the Pro divison of the Volcom World Championships.

One of my boys from Ewa Beach, Hi. won the Pro division of the Volcom World Championships last 5/11/2008. Dustin bagged 15k in prize money, a new Jet ski, and made da boys proud.

Pentax K20d and FA* 600 f4

The Cuervo Gold AVP Tour Huntington Beach

Winners of the Cuervo Gold Crown:
Men's:Sean Rosenthal/jake Gibbs
Women's: elaine Youngs/Nicole Branagh
DA* 50-135

Winners of AVP tour stop #3, HB:
Men's: Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers
Women's: Misty May-Treanor/Kerry Walsh
DA* 16-50


DA* 200

Bellagio, Las Vegas shots with Pentax DA 35 macro limited

The new pentax DA 35 macro limited has instantly become my most favorite lens. I even have one body dedicated to have that lens mounted at all times. the 35mm view on a APS-c sized sensor has essentially restored the near "normal" view, like that of a fast 50 on a full frame. one of my laurels to convey to new photographers is learn photography through a near normal view (ie: 50mm on a full frame, or something that approximates that view on cropped APS-c)

this new lens gives that nostalgic feeling of "normal" view, with a 52.5mm view after the conversion factor of 1.5X. I use this lens as my walk around, and have the benefit of macro capability. in my experiences it is a beautiful macro lens, normal lens, and meets my expectations for landscape and images where infinity is also of importance.

happy shooting!

flower fields of carlsbad, california

Pentax DA 10-17 fisheye

Pentax DA* 200mm f2.8

Pentax DA 35mm macro limited

Pentax DA 70 pancake limited

Pentax DA* 16-50 f2.8 with AF 540FGZ fill flash