From Manila to Baler

Meet Jovanne

Jovanne Faraon is a 26-year old freelance architect based in Baler, a small town in the Philippines. She was originally from a city in Metro Manila, but her life completely changed when she saw more than buildings and pavements. She wanted a laid-back lifestyle and still get to do what she love most—designing spaces and surfing.

Photos : Tiara Mejos

I was landlocked pretty much my whole life. Born and raised as a city girl but always longs for the sea. When I started surfing back in 2013, I was still in college, and that’s when things started to change. I had a group of friends who I’d usually go on a surf trip with at least once a month. That already was often for us who lived in the city because of the distance. To be able to surf, you must fully commit your 48 hours for a surf trip, which includes 6-8 hours of travel time one way. In the end, I was the only one left charging to a beach I fell in love with because of surfing.

Baler is a small town in Aurora province that has endless beach breaks on a 200 km coastline. It can never get too crowded in a spot! When the surf gets too big and windy in front, there’s that A-frame peeling waves in river mouths.

Aside from that, Baler also has a reef break called Cobra Reef that can let you do perfect right-hand barrels.

Photo : Tiara Mejos

I immediately moved to Baler as soon as school was over. I was able to adapt to the place and learn the culture quickly. I also started a family here and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made to raise a child by the sea.

On weekends, it can get crowded by the beach. But on weekdays, the surf is all yours. Locals would even offer waves for you to get! One of the reasons why I easily adapted to the place is because of the friendliness of everyone I encountered.

My daily routine would always have surf either early morning or a sunset session. In between would be family time and work. I don’t follow a schedule or use my watch. I take it by day and see the conditions for myself. This lets me balance all my priorities in one day without feeling too stressed.

Photo : Tiara Mejos

Surfing helps me improve myself in different views. When I feel sluggish, uninspired, depressed, or just need some meditation time, I paddle out and surf. It’s probably hard to believe by others, but surfing is the way of life for me. Living in the city for 25 years has changed the way I saw life when I started to surf. It definitely connected me to Mother Nature more than ever and grounded me to become a humbled human being.

It opened other opportunities and aspects that I never saw and I am truly thankful for it. I wasn’t scared at all to leave the city because I know what my next step was going to be without having things planned out. The waves took me far enough to live a simple life and appreciate what is there without expectations.

All women who surf in general have this natural grace and style when it comes to surfing. You can only count the number of women who surf in our country, specifically my town, which is less than ten. I know there is no competition between each other because we are all friends and we are surfing just to get our stoke on.

Aside from that, we can also balance out the countless men (even little boys) in a lineup. They often show their gentleness to women that make me feel more secure and comfortable when surfing in a crowded spot.

Photo : Tiara Mejos

I started off with a 9’3″ log and it rides beautifully. I did transition to a short board a year after and when I did, I never went back to a longboard. It took a while for me to learn on a short stick but it just gives me that instant stoke when I get to ride just one wave, while on a longboard I would need at least five rides.

I moved to a place with my family close to a reef break, so there isn’t really an option for me to choose. I really love surfing that break despite my countless battle scars and board damages. I won’t go out if it’s barreling overheads, nor if the winds are strong, especially onshore. I always choose the conditions where the waves are just right for me and I don’t get to pressure myself. I make sure it’s not closing or and have the lip drag me under. I am always learning as I surf with others and I just choose to ride small ones and progress later on when I am ready.

Photo : Tiara Mejos

Just as the waves of the ocean rise and subside, so do we rise and evolve. For this new year, I will start by doing my best to practice zero plastic. I will bring my own reusable stuff anywhere I go and refuse single use plastics. As a surfer, I will also continue to pick-up trash along the lineup and the coast. It’s not that difficult to do.

My bigger mission is to educate and inspire the local community to rethink and shrink their trash and plastic footprint. It’s not about trying to do everything or promoting a one-way lifestyle. It’s about holding the mindset that collectively we can change the way we think about waste, how we use things, and how we live on the earth together. We can trace nearly everything we consume currently back to something that isn’t sustainable. We can all learn, grow, and open our minds and creativity to new ways of seeing the world, respecting different lifestyles, and making small changes when and where we can.

Photo : Tiara Mejos

To make less trash :

  • We can simplify ourselves. We can refuse single-use disposable items … We can bring our own reusable to keep single-use plastics away like bags, containers, straws, mugs, and water bottles.
  • We can be resourceful with food by making quick and easy meals from unprocessed and unpackaged foods.
  • We can compost our food waste. We can recycle wisely.
  • We can use our voice to express ourselves.
  • We can support other local communities.

By sharing the same thoughts and missions, we are acting as one to create one world with one people.

Instagram : @jovannesurfs