Run, Drop, Slide, and Trust
A Hero's Journey: Likhaan Stories Series
On a cloudy afternoon, Ledilita Puda, Bernice Medino, and Joshua Lebosta sit beneath the thatched roof of the San Jose Skimboarding Camp’s restaurant facing the sea in Dulag, Leyte. Ledilita, a fifty-six-year-old mother of five and board member of Kaugop han Pag-uswag ngan mga Waraynon Service Cooperative (KAPAWASECO), sits at the center. Joshua, the nineteen-year-old president of the thirty-five-member Eco-Youth Club darts in and out of view. Joshua also works as a waiter in the restaurant and sometimes fills in as cashier as well as helps with decorating and cleaning up the camp. Thirty-eight-year-old Bernice managed the entire camp from 2018 to 2020 and is now a waitress. She sits at the back and contemplates my questions. It has just rained. I can almost see the grey skies reflected in their eyes.
Restaurant of San Jose Skimboarding Camp overlooking the sea of Leyte Gulf and Labiranan River
TIPS FROM PROFESSIONAL SKIMBOARDERS:
1. Start slowly
Ledilita: After Yolanda, we asked ourselves how we would survive. How do we move on?
Joshua: We couldn’t recover for days. We didn’t know where to get food. My family was forced to kill our pig and eat it, also serving it to the others who were taking shelter in our home. We dried all the palay so that it would become rice that we shared in order to fight off hunger, one day at a time.
2. Get the right skimboard
Bernice: When we found out that ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. (ALKFI) was one of the organizations that would help us, we were very thankful because they would help a lot of us. This gave us the strength to believe that whatever happens, we would get through it.
Bernice (left) catering customers, Joshua (center) serving food to their guest and Ledilita (right) escalating issue as one of the Board of Director
Joshua: They helped each of us to trust in ourselves and taught us the importance of taking care of the environment. Slowly, I became more confident.
4. Drop the board with the nose facing the direction you want to go, when the wave starts to reach wet sand and you see white bubbles.
Joshua: Lots of people from the barangay got employed. The kids who could swim well became lifeguards. They even got to enjoy their first salaries. The fish vendors are now working at the resort and their lives have become better.
Lifeguards and skimmer instructors are local skimmers at Brgy San Jose
5. Put one foot near the front of the board; the other, on the tail.
Joshua: Serving food to customers was difficult at first, because I was not used to waiting tables. I would just play games after school. Over time, I practiced and found it easier to serve customers.
6. Slide. Do your best to maintain your balance.
Joshua: Sometimes, I’m my own enemy. I think that I can’t do this; I’m too shy; I don’t know how to approach people.
Local Skimmers playing along waves at San Jose Skimboarding Camp
7. Ride with friends.
Joshua: When the resort was in its planning stages, I went with my auntie, a member of the KAPAWASECO. It sounded like a good plan. I was inspired to help, as I saw more of my community join in.
I learned first aid and CPR, water safety. I also discovered that I could train the other young members of my community and transfer my knowledge to them.
Kids would thank me for teaching them; that was such an overwhelming feeling.
This year, the Eco-Youth Club plans to build a big bird’s nest that will be a tourist attraction
8. Will it be easy?
Joshua: I’d ask myself, “Can I do this?” Even within our own barangay, there were many people who didn’t believe in the project, because it was something new. Many people said, “They will fool you and use you.” These were the people who didn’t believe that we could do it.
Time management was hard. I used to have a routine. My life before Yolanda was simple; all I did was play, study, and help my parents around the house. From morning till afternoon, I’d go to school. After school, I’d have band practice. Then I’d go home to help Mama cook. Then, after that, bedtime. My father was a fish vendor; my mom just stayed home while my siblings and I went to school.
9. It won’t. It will sometimes be painful.
Ledilita: Can I do it, or not? Sometimes, you lose hope, because you and your colleagues think differently. You cannot help having misunderstandings sometimes. But by talking things through, disagreements can be fixed. The discussion should be polite and orderly.
When people start to raise their voices, we remind each other that that is not the way. If there is a problem, we should talk about it.
The group is strong. To succeed, it needs trust, unity, and cooperation. We survived because we are united.
When it comes to customers, if we have to stay all night at the resort and not go home, we stay. We cook good food for them. We don’t neglect them. We’re good hosts.
10. You will go from a firm and stable surface (wet sand) onto an unstable and moving surface (water). Control your balance. Be ready for bumps.
Bernice: Before Yolanda, there were lots of trees. But there was also a lot of dynamite fishing and quarrying. After Yolanda, the shoreline shrank.
Ledilita: If we take care of our environment, we can see that it is so beautiful. The Eco- Youth Club members have clean-up drives, collect driftwood, and recycle plastic they find on the beach.
Joshua: The beach is clean now; the view is nice. The water is light blue and green. There are natural rock formations. It’s so relaxing.
THE SAN JOSE SKIM BOARDING CAMP MENU:
If Ledilita were to re-write the menu of the San Jose Skimboarding Camp’s restaurant, she would put these dishes at the top.
Pancit Bihon /Bam i/ Canton
Our customers keep coming back for these noodle dishes because they are delicious, hit the spot, and, at P200.00, can be shared by four to five people.
Pancit is like life. You find a way to make it right. There is a mix of everything that gives life its many colors from its daily trials that we face bravely.
Native Chicken, with Coconut Milk
Customers from far away come just to eat this special dish.
Fish Sinigang or Tinola
This is so fresh, caught daily.
Our most special snack is called moron. It is a kakanin–a rice cake made of brown-and-white sticky rice rolled in a banana leaf. Some recipes of moron call for cheese or chocolate in it.
We help each other make it because all of us mothers know how to do it. This is the perfect pasalubong that will last three to four days without refrigeration.
We also make delicious puto or rice cake and other snacks like turon, and kalamayhati, because we made a living from these snacks before the skimboarding camp.
Kakanin like moron, puto, and pichi-pichi made by members of KAPAWASECO.
BERNICE’S RECIPE FOR PREPARING FOR ANOTHER SUPER TYPHOON:
Care for nature.
It’s payback time for nature. (Natural disasters are also caused by man.)
Don’t destroy our natural resources.
We now value the environment more by planting trees, cleaning the beaches and not throwing trash just anywhere.
Stop the abuse of our environment. We experience a lot of calamities because we destroy, rather than take care of, our environment.
But there is also a lesson here. We should value our lives and families more.