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Text and photos by Jojie Alcantara (see published print in SunStar Davao below, February 24. 2016)
The new Amihan Team is composed of 27 young boys and girls who are being honed by the same trainor and father figure responsible for producing champs in the first batch of the Amihan Boys. These are the young local skimboarders in my beloved birthplace of Mati, Davao Oriental.
George Plaza, “Bochok” or “Kuya Jun” to loved ones and friends, is the founder of the original Amihan Team which has been featured in national papers and international magazines, thanks to his perseverance, love and strict discipline culled from his years in the seminary. I have featured the young champs way back in 2007 in Mabuhay Magazine, and have also highlighted the booming white shorelines of Dahican Beach.
Having trained the former skimboarders who have grown into champs and moved on to find work elsewhere, Bochok aims to teach these new young kids to prioritize their studies, respect their parents, finish early morning chores before concentrating on their favorite water sports. Being involved in drugs and drinking will automatically kick one off the team, regardless of his skills.
The word amihan refers to the season dominated by the trade winds in Philippines, producing a cool northeast wind from September or October and ends in May or June, which varies annually. During the said season, good waves abound for surfing and skimming on the beach.
Dahican, now a popular skimboarding destination, is an extended strip of stunning white beach lined with coconut trees, facing sparkling turquoise waters that ebb and flow wildly into the Pacific, inviting adventurous beach fanatics to swim, surf, skim, paddleboard or kayak in glee. Its white shoreline is also blessed with the habitat of endangered sea turtles (pawikan). Sightings of dolphins and sea cows (dugongs) crossing the waters happen on regular occasions if you are lucky to chance upon them.
One early dawn, I waited for my beautiful sunrise while waiting for the young kids to come out for their morning exercise. We were still shivering from the chill at 5am.
The kids enjoyed posing for me as I gave them a souvenir Fuji Instax print each for their keepsakes. The youngest one particularly caught my attention, cute little Justin Sacedor, who at four, is confidently skimming the waves along with his older brother Longlong and sister Isobel.
Hopefully these new breed of Amihan team will again bring back pride to Mati by collecting more championship trophies in regional, national and international skimboarding competitions. Bochok insists, however, that their schooling should come first.
My article published in SunStar Davao on February 24. 2016