Monday, August 18, 2014

An Ode to Carille

This post was originally published in the Northern Luzon Star as part of a weekly environmental column Colleen and I co-wrote. I thought I would share this article on Carille (one of my favourite surf spots!) here on the blog:

Carille is known for its long right-hand peeling waves. Photo Credit: Jefferson Ganuelas

Surfers both local and international have been singing the praises of the waves at local surf spot Carille or known in the local surfing community as Jesus Point. Day 1 of the recently completed Invitational Coast Thru Life: Single and Unattached Surf Competition was held at Carille in Barangay Carlatan where surfers from the Philippines, Australia, Korea and the United States showed off their skills on beautiful glassy knee high waves. But its not just the waves that have been drawing surfers to the waters of Carille.
Buji Libarnes one of the co-founders of Coast Thru Life and organizer of the Single and Unattached Surf Competition has been surfing in La Union for the past 14 years. “Carille’s water has improved, it used to be really dirty and smell funny. We’d see all sorts of stuff floating around in the lineup, from diapers to syringes and we’d get all itchy and smell whenever we got out of the water” Libarnes says. “But now, its different. We noticed the change the past couple of years. The water is clearer, the beach is cleaner and we don’t stink anymore after surfing. If the statue of Jesus in Carille had hands, I’m sure he’d give it a thumbs up!”

Malibu Surfer Carla Rowland crusing Carrille in style during the Single and Unattached Event

Due to its proximity to the City of San Fernando and the river mouth of Carlatan Creek, this surf spot is a hot spot for potential pollution. However, recent water quality analysis shows that Carille is well within acceptable levels for the marine environment which is great news for surfers. The improvements of the water quality in Carille can largely be credited to recent programs from the City Environment and Natural Resource Office of the City of San Fernando including a septage management program and improved waste collection throughout the City. 

When it comes to the health of our oceans we need to be looking at the region as a whole “ridge to reef” not just our coastlines because ultimately when it rains all our actions in the uplands get washed out to sea. 
According to Libarnes, Coast Thru Life chose La Union as the venue for their Single and Unattached Surf event because  its the Mecca of longboarding in the Philippines. “We always dreamt of having our event in Carille because it is one of the best, if not the best, point breaks in the Philippines for longboarding. Carille was the perfect stage for this International classic longboard contest.”

Carille which “breaks” only a few times a year is considered one of the “longest rides” in the region and draws huge crowds of surfers from Manila and the rest of the Philippines on good days. Surfers come to La Union to enjoy the waves and the hospitality of the local surf community, keeping our ocean and beaches clean is an important part of keeping this thriving business alive. 
The La Union Surf Club (LUSC) has seen the impact of improper waste disposal first hand. “With an increase in tourists we’ve seen an increase in waste” says Mickey Galang, current president of the La Union Surf Club. But rather than sit back and wait for someone else to do something about it the LUSC took action forming Green Zinc more than 5 years ago now. “Tourism is a main source of income for 90% of our locals here in San Juan so focusing on solid waste management in the beach area became a concern for the club” says Galang. The LUSC and Green Zinc are involved in organizing biweekly clean ups of the beach and even donated a garbage truck and waste bins to the barangay for weekly garbage pick up. Even the kids, or gremlins in surf lingo, get involved with monthly events for the kids including beach clean ups and environmental themed movie nights. 

According to the recent State of the Province Address La Union saw a 72% increase in tourist arrivals. With the caliber of surfing events and competitions continuing to grow, surfing and surf related tourism is going to continue to rise in the region and continue to shine light on the beauty of the natural environment here in La Union. 
Let’s hope surfers continue to sing the praises of our local waves for many more years to come. 

That's me on a small snack-sized Carille Day. Photo Credit: Jefferson Ganuelas

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