Story and photos by Lovel Aniag
I first met Daisy Valdez in a little restaurant along the National Highway in Surftown, La Union. More accurately, outside the restaurant – she was manning a pop up store set up right in front of Choka (the restaurant) – quietly folding shirts and offering a shy smile to curious tourists checking out her items.
My friend and I started nosing around her merchandise as the owners of Choka made small talk with us, explaining that the pop up is actually a fund-raising effort for Daisy. Daisy, as it turns out is some sort of a Power Surfer in the country – the only Filipina invited to an international series of surfing competition.
My friend and I did a double take. Unassuming, tiny and quiet, Daisy, still folding shirts, smiled at us. I was amazed to say the least. Not because of her achievements but because of her presence – she didn’t have any. I asked her how the first leg of the competition went. Almost embarrassed, she answered me “I ranked number two.”
Daisy has always been athletic growing up. As a child, she was a competitive gymnast.
Despite being the tiniest participant, she would constantly crush the biggest competition and win.
Having lived all her life by the water, surfing came naturally to her. But it was after meeting another surfing legend – a one-legged surfer named ‘Poks’ – that she decided to take the sport more seriously, still dominating every surfing competition she participated in.
She has been surfing professionally since 1999, winning local competitions and accumulating over 50 titles since. Now she wants to surf her way over international waves.
Her next target: the 2017 RENextop Asian Surfing Tour (RAST)
The event pits the best longboard and shortboard surfers from the Asia and Australia.
Daisy is the country’s only representative for both divisions.
This being her first-ever international surfing tour, the surfing powerhouse did not disappoint. She finished the first leg of the series in second place, merely missing the first spot by one point, with judges noting the first-timer as the strongest contender to win the series.
But to be able to win the tour, she needs to participate in all four legs of the series, happening in different locations in Asia. The next three legs will happen in Japan, Taiwan and China.
With the string of achievements under her belt (Board? Bikini?), winning was the easy part.
Daisy surfs daily to perfect every move, starting as early as 6 a.m. and finishing just as the sun sets in the horizon. She is determined to win.
The struggle lies in being able to stay in the competition.
Like many Philippine athletes of sports other than boxing and basketball, Daisy struggles to get any form of support from the government. Not wanting to forego the opportunity of representing the country, Daisy, along with a group of friends, scrape everything they have to help fund her tour.
Daisy needs at least PHP 300,000 to cover plane tickets, accommodations and other fees.
Her supporters have come up with various ways and means, from selling merchandise to on-line funding, allowing her to compete in the first leg.
But there are three other legs to run. The challenge might seem insurmountable, but Daisy is hopeful and determined to catch every break and ride the waves to victory.
Help Daisy Valdez surf global waves:
Go Fund Me account:
Good luck, Ate Dais!
Every person has an interesting and inspiring story to tell. <Place> Profiles features personalities from my travels around the Philippines.
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