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*BackBeatRags’ Note: We travelled with these two amazing ladies in the past (see our BackBeatCruisin’ Baja Edition post) and thought that their friendship was pretty special. They don’t live in the same country but often go off together on some surf adventures around the world. When we found out that they were going on a three-week surf trip to Siargao Island in the Philippines, we asked Aya to write a little bit about the island, what it’s like to travel together and of course, asked them to run around Siargao wearing our clothes.
Words and Photography by Aya Garcia
When travelling, you meet some amazing people along the way.
Some you never speak to or see again but you truly enjoyed your time with them, and the memories stay with you for years. Then there are those rare few that you meet and you end up planning a trip together, and another one after that.
Paige and I met by chance in Siargao, Philippines back in 2015. We had a shared passion for photography and surfing so we instantly connected. I was at a time when I was just really getting into taking photos with my different film cameras and Paige was travelling the world as a Reef ambassador.
We seemed to feed off of each other creatively and constantly encourage each other to shoot and find inspiration within our surroundings. I needed to practice my photography and she was super supportive about that and pushed me to find different perspectives in visual storytelling. It’s great to have a friend to pass the camera back and forth with and have fun shooting each other.
We connected a few more times after that in Canada, California and even took a trip down to Baja, Mexico after that. Last April, we decided to go back to the island we first met at for our next adventure, Siargao.
Siargao is a teardrop shaped island, southeast of the Philippines. Its coastline is lined up with reef breaks, small point breaks, and white, sandy beaches. It’s actually paradise. When I first visited this island thirteen years ago, there were only dirt roads, no airport, and the lineup was generally uncrowded. You would have to work hard to get to some good surf.
Life on this island is fairly simple. Sometimes there is a lot of waiting around for the tide to shift, rain to stop and for the swell to come in. That’s when you can explore, nap, have a picnic with friends, explore other islands or go fishing instead. People don’t need much to be happy around these parts. All the locals are warm, laid back, and friendly. Filipinos are just generally happy to share everything they have (in most cases, very little) with you as long as you are willing to learn about their culture. Respect the locals and their land, that’s the number one rule in travelling.
Today, some of the roads have been cemented, resorts have been popping up everywhere and there is now an airport with about four flights coming in daily. That is a big change for this little island. Fortunately, there is a growing awareness of how garbage is a serious problem here. Local surfers, shop owners and resort owners banded together and set up scheduled beach cleanups and have set up garbage bins around the busy areas. I love the sense of community there is among the locals here. Tourism has certainly had a huge boom here in the last 5 years, I hope this island can keep up with it.
Paige and I met up in Manila, our bags full of film, cameras, bikinis and some fresh threads from BackBeatRags. We then took the next early morning flight out to Siargao. For two weeks Paige and I explored that island on our motorbikes.
Paige wearing the Ochre Recycled Cotton Cami Midi Dress, available here.
The first few days we took it easy since the waves were pretty small and took some boat trips out to the smaller less inhabited islands surrounding Siargao. Boat rides were definitely one of my favourite things about this Island. We rode boats in all shapes and sizes.
We even figured out a wicked routine of stopping on the side of the road to buy some fresh pan de coco and coffee before a surf check. When the swell picked up we decided to surf the outer reef spots and took the opportunity to take some underwater photos after a few sessions.
After a few hangovers, wipeouts, flat days, endless reef cuts and even a lost tooth, I would say it was a very good trip.
It’s amazing to find a connection so real in a world of social media. It’s also really nice to have a friend to enjoy your travels with. It’s a hit and miss most times when travelling with others, so when I do find someone who is at the same pace as me, I make sure to nurture that friendship. I would say Paige has definitely made an impact on my photography and I’m very grateful for that. Currently, we are back at our respective cities sending each other photos but we are for sure going to be planning our next little adventure together.
To see more of Aya Garcia’s work- check out her website here.
To see more of Paige Madison- check out her website here.