The humble mermaid – Elaine Abonal

Ocean-loving beauty, Elaine Abonal is living proof that great things can happen if you set your mind to it.
The inspiring yet humble 29-year-old was born and bred in the Philippines and has been surfing for about 10 years. Elaine was first introduced to the sport when she was 18 and studying in the US.siargao - august 2013
“I pretty much just got obsessed with it and wanted to do it as often as I could,” she said.
“I love everything about the ocean. I love that I feel at home when I’m in it.
“I love that it teaches me things like courage, perseverance, appreciation of the simple things, beauty and how everything in life is connected.”
Elaine has been lucky enough to turn her love of it into one the best jobs around.
With the support from two pioneer surfers from the Philippines, Elaine launched her own surf company early last year.

IMG_3299From years of surfing and staying at the San Juan Surf Resort in La Union, Philippines, Elaine got to know the owner Brian Landrigan and professional surfer Luke Landrigan.
When Elaine told Brian and Luke about her dream to own and operate a surf tour company in the Philippines, they gave their full support and encouraged her to turn it into a reality.
“They’ve seen me spread the word about surfing and bring my friends and friends of friends on surf trips,” Elaine said.
“On one international trip with them, they told me that I could always do surfing for fun but that it’s also something I can do as my own business.
“ They know that I have the resources, support, and talent so I thought about it and realised that they were right.
“They helped me and I told my friends and family about it.
“I feel very lucky and blessed to of had their encouragement.”

?????????????Elaine now operates Surfista Travels Philippines – a surf tour company that helps surfers and travellers from around the world, men and women, arrange trips such as accommodation, transport, surf lessons and more.
Surfistas September 2012 LUFor most people heading to the country to surf, Manila is the starting point to get to surfing destinations like La Union and Baler.
Elaine said despite Manila being a big city with no beach close by,  a lot of Filipino’s have taken up surfing.
“Manila’s not next to a beach with waves so it’s definitely the concrete jungle,” she said.
“But ALOT of people from Manila, especially the younger crowd, are getting into surfing because many have the resources and money to travel to the surf areas.
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“We’re still a long way compared to other countries when it comes to surf culture, but it’s getting more popular every year.
“Many of my Surfista trips are mostly made up of girls, which is pretty cool to see.
“Surfing here used to be an underground culture but now it’s the “cool” thing to do. I’d say it’s much mellow and friendlier in the water compared to other countries.
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“It’s so much better to surf here – the locals are friendly, the water is warm, the location is beautiful and it’s fun.”
Elaine says she doesn’t want to label herself as anything she just hopes to promote the Philippines as a beautiful destination to the rest of the world and inspire other like-minded women.
“I don’t really want to name myself as anything, but I do want to be an ambassador for surfing in the Philippines and show the rest of the world that we live in a beautiful country with beautiful people,” she said.

“I also want to be an ambassador for women to show that we chicks CAN surf, we CAN travel and that we CAN do whatever we dream to do.”

 

Passionate About the Ocean?

National Geographic has created an education program to raise awareness about the ocean and it invites surfers and surf schools to get involved.

Working at National Geographic has always been my dream job. The stories that National Geographic tells are about the earth, history and the ocean. These stories might not make the evening news but they are fascinating, important and impact each and every one of us.

Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic

The National Geographic Ocean Education Program aims to engage and collaborate with the marine recreation community (us) with the goal of raising public awareness about ocean conservation and inspiring people to help protect the vital natural resources that the ocean provides.

Photograph by Sebastian Meckelmann

The Ocean Initiative is a great way to get involved. If you are interested in running a program perhaps with a school group or at your local surf club, there is a whole Tool Kit available on the site including some great planning material.