Being a lover of travel, the beach (or almost any place outside the city, really), trying new things and meeting new people, and being one of the laziest trip planners you can find, I could not have been in better hands than with Surfista Travels on my trip to La Union last November 24-25 (blog post to be linked here as soon as it’s up on When In Manila). But apart from sand, sea, surf and friends, one of the trip highlights really is in meeting and getting to know Elaine Abonal of Surfista Travels.
[With Elaine and my eyebags]
Elaine has been surfing, traveling around the Philippines and bringing friends to different surf spots for the past 10 years, so she’s definitely no stranger to the local surf scene, and looked really at home with her San Juan Surf Resort family in La Union.
When you meet Elaine, you’ll notice her warm and charming personality, her fondness for corny yet amusing jokes, and her exotic Pocahontas-like good looks! She’s the type of girl that girls would love to be friends with, and that guys would love to be with (and she’s still single!). Get to know a bit more about this nomadic trip manager in our brief interview below. 🙂
NM: How did you get to where you are right now? What background prepared you to handle Surfista Travels?
EA: I’ve always liked travelling and was an exchange student in the US for senior year in high school. That experience let me be a leader for groups in other summer programs to Europe so I got used to taking care of a group, mixing with different kinds of people and being in charge while travelling. I always also had and have a lot of foreign friends visit me in the Philippines so I would show them around and bring them surfing. Not just foreign friends but also college friends or new friends who didn’t know where to go or what to do when it came to surfing.
[With the Surfistas from La Union batch Nov. 24-25, 2012 😀 — Clockwise from left: Hanz, Elaine, Ghoul, Lawin, Xavier, me, Bam, Mina, Rhomie, Mia(-some!), Asha, Lea]
NM: Did you have certain goals when you set up Surfista Travels?
EA: Earn something from what I love doing or have my own business, spread the love of surfing in the Philippines — among Filipinos and with foreigners visiting the Philippines, explore different surf spots in the country and help local businesses in the process, and have FUN and meet new people and hopefully make a difference in people’s lives and the environment. 🙂
NM: What kind of traveler are you?
EA: I can be both a bratpacker or a backpacker — depending on who I’m with. When I’m with my family or girl friends, I like dressing up and trying the best and most expensive food and activities. When I’m with guys I can rough it and eat anything and just enjoy the simple things. I’m pretty easy to travel with. 🙂
NM: Name things you HAVE TO pack that others might not necessarily include among their travel essentials.
EA: Besides my phone, SLR camera & other essentials I HAVE to pack my GoPro camera and my VMV sunscreen (I’m a sunscreen freak — even in the city)!
NM: How do you feel about how La Union has changed since you first visited?
EA: It’s bittersweet because I see how things have developed and has given the locals jobs and income. But it’s also gotten busy in the water meaning it gets crowded when we surf, there’s a lot of dangers with beginners and swimmers, and there’s a lot more trash on the beach. We miss the good old days but we all knew this was bound to happen so we’re just enjoying thigs as they come and appreciate the good side of everything.
[Beach cleanup in progress — GRAR, you blasted litterers.]
I guess everything should be regulated but the number one concern — personally and among my surfer friends — is how it will affect the beach and the environment. The more people that come in, the more trash there is going to be in the resorts so I hope the governments and the resorts find a way to effectively manage their trash, and that the resorts and the locals take responsibility in educating themselves and visitors about not just leaving anything on the beach. There should be more garbage bins readily available. I also hope visitors that come in know that they’re not in their own territory and should respect other people’s homes.
NM: What takeaway do you want Surfistas to bring home after a Surfista weekend? (aside from the awesome loot)
EA: I hope people go home with a new found love for the ocean — be it with surfing and having that be part of their lives or by understanding that it’s our playground and that we have a responsibility to protect it. We have beach clean ups and if that makes Surfistas think or if that makes a difference to one person, then I’ve made my difference to make the world a better place too. I hope they all go home learning that surfing isn’t just the water sport but the whole lifestyle that comes along with it.
(Blogger’s note: The beach cleanup one of the things I loved about the weekend! And her whole “make a difference to one person” approach is perfect for www.muni.com.ph! :D)
And there you have it. She’s charming, funny, pretty, multi-lingual, earth-loving, and change-making in her own seemingly little but really big way. How can you not love this woman? So ladies and gents, if you want to meet Elaine, log onto www.surfistatravels.com and book a trip! 😀
[Some love from Elaine with some help from Xavier & Ghoul :)]
See more pictures from my trip here.
Or check out pictures on the Surfista Travels Facebook page.
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