Once upon a time I was in La Union – hardly paddling out against heavy white water – when I saw Ian Saguan took off at the peak of a huge wave, lined up his log, cross stepped and reached the nose and did a classic hang five with his toes extending. It was picturesque. His posture and arms made him look like a magician doing something spectacular. Or like a bull fighter in a galant pose. He exuded flair. He hanged five all the way to the channel where I was and easily turned his board around and paddled back. Ian then smiled and told me, “Tara dun tayo”, telling me to join him at the lineup. Of course I played it cool and said yeah. But I was struggling and could only reach the shoulder. I ended up just sitting there.
Ian and the other great La Union surfers continued to surf like kids on a playground. And on that playground I felt like I was a toddler, to young to be there. But Ian was cool enough to ask me again to join him at the peak. This time around though I told him that I was fine where I was. Because where I was, I had the best seat to a live display of longboarding excellence.
That memory was way back when I was an eager beginner in surfing. To this day, that image of him never left my mind.
A Hero and a Legend
Ian Saguan is an integral part of surfing in La Union and probably surfing in the Philippines in general. He has prospered in the art of Longboarding – a division where only a few in the whole country have really mastered. His skill has carried him from local to International competitions of which he enjoyed much success. A long time team rider for Alohaboardsports, Ian has represented the Philippines and he has represented us well.
In La Union, Ian is part of a lineage of “maestro” longboarders. He learned from the pioneers and earliest local surfers and in turn has influenced the generation next to his. Jeff Ganuelas of Moonshine and Saltwater who is currently energizing the longboarding movement in La Union has Ian to thank for, “I started surfing dahil sa kanya, he lent me his boards, mabait siya, ayos kasama, marami rin kaming kalohohan na pinagsamahan.” (I started surfing because of him. He lent me his boards. He is kind, a good company and we have shared lots of mischief and good times together).
As for me, Ian Saguan was an inspiration. And together with his close friend Junior Ventura, they were both my “idols”. I’m happy to have met them and to have also shared good times with them. At night we’d play beer pong, play Jack Johnson songs on the acoustic guitar and share some jokes. I usually stayed at the rooms at Sea Nymph beside his room. Most of the time he would help LokalSoul out and gave me the password to his wifi. Haha.
Step Crossing to Overseas and Ian’s Message
Perhaps the biggest cross step he has taken, Ian has left La Union to go work in Dubai. He became an OFW and joined several other Filipino surfers who went abroad as an Overseas Filipino Worker. It’s been said that when an opportunity knocks you gotta go grab it. He did exactly just that even though it would take him away from his home in La Union. However, it’s really not that bad you see because even though Ian isn’t surfing in La Union anymore, he is surfing in Dubai now. Ian works as a surfing instructor and a shop assistant for Surf Shop Dubai where he joined Abdel Elecho and the rest of the Pinoy Surfers of Dubai as they work hard and play hard in the Middle East.
winning the Sunset Open in Dubai 2012 longboard division. photo by Abdel Elecho.
Amazingly enough and surely a testament to his skill, Ian won the longboard division of the Dubai Sunset Open 2012 just a short time after he has landed there. Talk about crossing over! He competed against highly skilled longboarders but I guess the man from La Union really overwhelmed the contest.
We recently had a chat with Ian who shared to his life in Dubai. He talks about the surf scene there, his work, what he misses most and also has a message to surfers back in the Philippines:
Dubai is ok. It’s a different lifestyle and culture for me. The surfing community is big although its made up of different people mostly South African and Australian. The rest is mixed like Pinoy, Sri Lankans and Indonesians. But the Filipinos are the only ones who have an organization which is the PSOD (Pinoy Surfers of Dubai). We are united and the group is very supportive. There are some locals here but not that many. Maybe they’ll get bigger in the future.
As an OFW, I guess it will be hard if I wasn’t a surfer. Good thing I love my job and I love what I’m doing and I know what to do. It’s hard to have a boss. The boss gets mad at mistakes and I think that’s the hardest part about working. But for me I’m happy being an OFW. I have the same lifestyle the only thing different is that I now have a boss.
I miss my family, my surfing buddies the La Union boys and I especially miss racing and my racing friends. Also, I miss the “lutong bhay” (home cooked) meals.
My message to our surfers, all surfers back home is that whatever your goals are and whatever level you are in try to be humble. “Ingatan ang pag galing dahil sasabay diyan ang paglaki ng ulo.” Just progress with a down to earth attitude and soon you’ll find that you are reaching your goals while making people like you even more. Keep on surfing and let your surfing do the talking. Respect and keep the right attitude, that’s what helped me as a pro surfer in all of my achievements. Peace!
Proud to be Pinoy and an Ian Saguan Surfing Gallery
We truly have world class surfers in the Philippines. Nilve Blancada and Luke Landrigan recently made us proud in Indonesia. We applaud and salute them. For while surfing in the Philippines is continuing to blossom, surfers like them embody the Filipino surfer and give the world an inside look to what we have and what surfers of the Philippines are made of.
LokalSoul.com would like to thank Ian for the interview. We wish you all the best. Hope to join you in the lineup when you come back to La Union soon. But Ian, don’t be surprised to see me at the shoulder once again. It’s a pleasure watching you surf.
Here’s a gallery of mixed photos.
Ian smacking the lip back home in La Union. photo by Ellane Pfeiffer.
and Ian smacking the lip in Dubai. photo by Abdel.
attacking the Wadi Adventure Park in Abu Dhabi
Ian winning a Rip Curl event in Indonesia
co’z he got Power
and he got Flair. photo by Jeff Ganuelas.
Ian chillin’ and gliding overseas
but he will always be an LU boy at heart. Ian hanging out with the boys back home.
see you soon kap! isa kang inspirasyon sa nakakarami.
– end –
written by: TJ LokalSoul
photos: thanks to Abdel Elecho, Jeff Ganuelas, Ellana Pfieffer and Ian Saguan.