In our first surfer feature ever, we sat down with Jean Pierre Sarmiento who recently bagged the Men’s Shortboard division at the 6th MSA Manila Surfers Cup in La Union. He’s been racking up his game by battling it out in competitions and still continually improves by constant practice. At a distance you would think a local is ripping only to realize its actually JP just doing his thing. An inspiration to city-based surfers, let’s take a look on how JP does it.
LS: What’ up JP. Glad to have you here in our first surfer feature. First of all, please do tell us a bit about yourself.
JP: Hello. I’m JP Sarmiento, 30 years old and I live in San Juan City, Metro Manila. I attended Grade School to High School at La Salle Greenhills then I took up Multimedia Arts at DLSU-CSB. Loyalty Award at La Salle hahaha. Currently, I’m self employed at The Wooffice Multimedia Productions, a photo and video production company. I also have an events photobooth named Beatleboy Photobooths. I’m also trying to get into silkscreening t-shirts.
LS: Great. Ok. So how did you get into surfing?
JP: I never knew that there was surfing here in the philippines. My first surf trip was on the summer of 2004. We (me, my bros Aston and Miko, 3 of my cousins, along with Victor Gamboa and JB Gamboa and some friends) all went on a road trip. 11 of us went up to Baguio and then Sagada then on the way down JB suggested we pass by San Juan La Union to try surfing. Lucky for us there was some swell then – imagine if it was flat, I may have never surfed. I wasn’t addicted to surf on our first trip as I was more into downhill mountain biking then. It all changed after about 6 months when Aston got a 540 board shaped by Lui. I’d borrow his board for the weekend then go to Zamba or LU. When I really got addicted to surfing I’d sometimes stay for a week at LU.
LS: Can you tell us your hardships when you were just learning to surf?
JP: At first It was really frustrating because it was way harder than it looked. I thought standing up on a surfboard was just like rolling along on a skateboard. I remember my whole body aching because of paddling. Then just trying to sit on the board was a struggle.
LS: Ok we can definitely relate to that. Hehe. But what was it that made you go, ok I really want to pursue this sport?
JP: When my bros Aston and Miko got a boards, because after that, we got to surf longer. Before that we kept renting, and we couldn’t rent it long enough to really practice. Maybe per session I’d stand up only once or twice. I’d borrow their boards sometimes and go to LU or Zambales over the weekend.
LS: A bit of background JP. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood? Is there anyone in your family that influenced you? Have you always loved the ocean?
JP: I was always into extreme sports.I think its because when I was young I remember my dad would drive fast, and I’d get excited. When I was a kid I was into rollerblades, skateboarding then the BMX. Then in high school and college I was into car racing and then before surfing downhill mountain biking – anything fast. Yup, ever since we were kids we’re always at the beach, usually at Lingayen, Pangasinan.
LS: What does your family say about you surfing? My dad, let me just share, always tells me that I will be bitten by sharks. It’s ridiculous. Are they that overly cautious too?
JP: Haha. My parents were always supportive of my surfing and never told me its dangerous. I guess they know that I know my limits in terms of danger.
LS: Where did you first learn how to surf and tell us about that “first wave”.
JP: I first surfed at La Union, but I really didin’t get stoked the first time I stood up.. the first time I really got stoked was at Magic Left, I caught a wave and went straight to the shore.
LS: Remember your worst wipe-out?
JP: Maybe about 6 months after my first surf. It wasn’t a wipe out but rather I got caught inside. I was surfing the Point thinking it wasn’t too big and it turned out to be about 6 ft. But then a big set broke outside cleaning up the whole lineup. I got hit in the head by the wave and got caught under by maybe 2 more waves. It was so long under that I was down to my last breath. Good thing I got my head up in time… I was so stoked!
LS: Again, we can definitely relate to that. Now tell us the thing you did to improve your surfing? (routines, techniques, practice regimens).
JP: haha.. I don’t really have a practice regimen. When I started out I always watched surf videos to analyze the moves sometimes in slow motion frame by frame like a surfing geek. Also by watching the locals , looking at their form, where the lineup is, where they turn etc. But I think the key is to just surf and don’t be to picky about the waves, surf whatever the conditions are, surf when its small, when its windy, when its shit. Even just for a short time, it gives your reflexes some practice. Then when the conditions are good, youll really feel the improvement.
LS: Can you tell us your best surf session?
JP: I guess my best session will still be the first time I got barreled at Cemento, I took off behind the peak and just held my line thru the lip then it just barreled really wide.
LS: You have joined a handful of competitions. What’s the most memorable for you?
JP: Last year’s Calicoan Samar Comp. I stayed there for almost a week and joined a competition and I was up against the Samar locals from Borongan and Calicoan. I lost against Cayote from Borongan but I got equal third place. The comp started with small waves then grew bigger until it was about head to a bit overhead at the semi finals.
LS: That’s great. I mean its cool to lose to a local named Cayote. He must be very sly and wily (lame humor attempt *wink). Samar surfers from what I heard are very good. On that note, who are your favorite Filipino and international surfers?
JP: Kelly Slater, Dane Reynolds, AI, Occy. Pinoy surfers Saddam Faraon, Jeff dela Torre.
LS: Favorite place/s to surf
JP: My best sessions are always at Cemento, Baler.
LS: What is your advice to those who are starting out in surfing?
JP: Have fun. Practice and be patient. The first year of surfing will be the most frustrating part, cause this is the time you’ll learn about proper paddling, the pop up, and catching waves on your own. If ever you want to switch to a shortboard, practice first on a bigger board and get familiar with paddling and standing up before you switch to a shortboard. Then from time to time switch from a longboard, funboard and a shortboard. Watch and ask the locals about technique and don’t be afraid to experiment.
LS: Thanks JP for the time. We surely would follow your career in Philippine Surfing. God bless and more power. Please use this space for shout-outs.
JP: Hi and thank you to my family and friends! Hi Barbs! Thanks din sa locals sa pag turo.Thank you din sa sponsor ko Aloha Boardsports for the support. Thank you to Lokalsoul and see you at the line up!
*Great stuff right? Please do share the stoke! Watch out for our next featured surfer, ME! No just kidding. But we’ll feature someone awesome very soon and it could be you!