A Second Time Around: Liwa in San Felipe, Zambales

It has been over a year ago when I went to Liw-Liwa to surf as an eager beginner. Until now it still is what I consider to be one of the best days I ever had. I think it’s probably the session after which I decided that I’m going to surf for the rest of my life.

Never been back to Liwa since. I’ve been around a lot. Gone for most weekends. Some trips I just go where the waves are and some trips I really have to be there, for events or competitions.  It was always on my mind to go back to that special place but the surf compass always pointed somewhere else.

Somehow the stars have aligned and I was destined to Liwa for this particular weekend (this was two weeks ago). During the trip I was holding on to a FAITH – the idea of getting stoked the way I got the first time I was there. And like a promise fulfilled, I totally got more than that.

Liw-liwa in San Felipe, Zambales

San Felipe is the town right after San Narciso. If you turn left just before Bobulon Elementary School you will find the road that leads to Liwa. Just keep on heading that road – houses, empty lots, grass, pine trees – until you reach the end of it. What will you see is the photo above.

Much has developed since I was here. Before there weren’t a lot of places to stay for the night except for the S.A.S. huts and their tent pitching areas. Most who go there are beginners out on a day trip and those who do stay are the committed surfers with their tents and sleeping bags.

Today one can find the Circle Hostel. The Circle Hostel is a two story surfer inn that was constructed in a way that conversation and camaraderie between guests are encouraged. The upper floor provides comfortable lodging and a good view of the nature that surrounds. Below are personal lockers for safekeeping. And with colorful and meaningful artwork made by artists and surfers, the Circle Hostel sure is an inviting place to stay.

Another awesome thing at Liwa is the skate bowl. It’s been painted with graffiti too. It’s located at the end of the road where a surfer/skater name DK has settled in. Beside the bowl are huts good for 4 persons. This is where we stayed for the night.

After some time when all this observation of all things new have settled in, the Liwa I knew slowly comes back to me. There may be lots of things happening – skaters carving the bowl, surfers from Manila parking their SUVs – but there’s one thing that didn’t change in this place. It is the PEACE.

Walking around Liwa is zen-like in silence, save from the sound of trick boards landing on concrete and the faint rasta music coming from mini-speakers. But there is peace in that too. The only noise, which is a good noise, are the kamustahan from fellow surfers  mostly comprised of surf talk. Aside from that, the only sound consistently on your ears is the whistling wind brushing against the lush pine trees. Peace indeed.

Lui is a radio talk show personality. But a few words, smiles and nods assures everything is good.

from S.A.S. to the beach

S.A.S. is one of the earliest places who nurtured San Felipe surfing. Everybody went to stay here. Some slept in the huts, some pitched tents and some slept in their cars. It still is the same save from the basketball ring. No surprise there. You don’t need Shaq to bring down a court. A few tomahawk slams from stoked surfers will eventually do the trick.

good for the arms, good for paddling

Carlos and his friends, 3 shakas up

siesta for the oversurfed

accommodation for the stoked

they got boards too

kickin it laid back

and of course we get to the surf

The surf in Liwa works best with swells coming from the North. And the sure fire months would probably during late November to March, as  based on the glassy drool inducing session here.

just this month a glassy left.. and right. photo by the Circle Hostel

and the mountains watch you surf

and Liwa has a beginner spot too. the sandy bottom won’t hurt.

others opt to go lifestylin’

fresh out of Med school, Dra. Julia Pangasinan enjoys Liwa and everything it offers

and here’s Ping. one of the best surfer and friendliest local of Liw-Liwa.

yours truly and my friend Ced back from fishing.

Liwliwa, a lesser known path

The best description of Liwa was told to me by a guy named Paco. While we are at the lineup as the sun sets, he told me this: “Liwa is your surf getaway from the surf scene.” Funny but I totally got what he said. Liwa is so raw and innocent and everything you need is just there. Even amidst the developent the core of Liwa is still the same. It is about the surf, the friendship, the bond, the laughter and the good times that culminates in this little corner of Zambales.

I’ve been around a lot. Been very active in the surfing scene. Or at least I try to. I love what I do to bits and pieces but we all do need a break sometimes. Liwa, for the second time around, gave me more than what I came for and I am so glad I came back.

Looking forward to the 3rd time and I know I’ll see you there.

Liwa like a child. 

*thanks to JC Cui for the photos. Check out the Circle Hostel on Facebook here. They are formally opening this weekend.