20170930_062554Time for Vitamin Sea once again . . . this time in Baler, Quezon for some surfing and team cleaning adventure. What a great way to appreciate our beautiful beaches by not only having fun in the water but also enjoying the company of friends cleaning up as a community. The idea is really to experience the fun of beach life along with the responsibiltiy of keeping the environment clean.

20170929_111351.jpgThanks to the collaboration of Reef Philippines and WWF who joined forces last September 29 to October 1 for an event to “Free the Sea” from choking in garbage.

20170929_084912So the adventure began with a bus trip from Cubao at 3 am on September 29. I tried to pack “just enough” for the 2 night/3 day trip the night before, but as usual I struggled with bringing too much then editing the items the day after. Admittedly, this is not a one-day planning chore as it took me one day to pack everything I could possibly need, then another day to remove some of the items to keep my luggage light. I suspect this is the case for most females. Pre-packing days in advance was a great relief for me, as I was relaxed by the time I got to the bus terminal.

20170929_102241When we reached the venue, we registered, had breakfast, went to our rooms then changed to our Reef shirts, caps, and beach slippers. Then we all gathered in the garden area for a briefing before the first activity of the day.

“Free the Sea 2” opened with a coastal clean-up and talk from WWF Philippines on sustainable tourism, a cause near and dear to Reef’s heart as it is in line with Reef’s global humanitarian outreach campaign “We Heart.”

20170929_110914Together with WWF, Surfari Philippines and volunteers, Reef spearheaded the coastal clean-up that aims to restore and preserve the beauty of Sabang Beach.

SAM_6420The group was divided into four teams as I volunteered to be one of the clipboard monitors. Admittedly, I was getting confused with classifying the garbage as the items kept coming in one after another. Should I classify it under plastic bag or 2.5cm or less piece of plastic? Where do I add the glove, the lighter, the diaper and all the other non-listed items? . . .under special items, eventually.

After an hour of cleaning up, the four teams gathered together to analyze  the top garbage items collected. The number 1 culprit turned out to be cigarette butts, just like  in all the other previous clean up activities according to WWF representative, Mr. Tony.   To make the activity more exciting, the organizers  hid marked  bottles for a treasure hunt for the lucky finders who eventually won some Reef products.SAM_6426

Afterwards, guests then got to enjoy what Sabang Beach was famous for – amazing waves and surfing! We got the chance to reconnect with nature and learn how to surf with free surfing lessons conducted by Nalu Surf Camp after lunch.

20170929_141154The staff of Nalu Surf Camp were so friendly and encouraging, how could we refuse to try surfing for the first time. So I signed up for the 3pm schedule after having my lunch, then went on a walking tour of the area outside the resort perimeter all the way until the museum, which was closed unfortunately. I rushed back to base to make sure I was on time for my lessons. I tried to hide my being an eager-beaver, but eventually it showed as I left the group behind while they were still touring around.

SAM_6441As a first timer, I struggled with balance and staying on the board for a long period of time. After falling off, I  would rush back on the board and try again and again. And again. After the one-hour lesson was done, I was still eager to go for another session. So I joined the beginners competition the next day just so I could try some more. Not surprisingly, I was the worst it seemed, as I could not stand up on the board. I was just kneeling most of the time. Hopefully I will have a chance to practice some more in the future. Ahem 🙂


20170929_201612In the evening, we were treated to laid-back beachside music with performances from Soundcloud Philippines’ Ann Clerigo, and the soulful music of Banna Harbera. A highlight as well during the trip was listening to chill music on a cool night with some drinks and chips sitting on the grass. Savored every minute of that.
20170929_195219There was also an open mic show for the guests who had no choice but to share their hidden singing talent with bravery as they were prodded on by their friends. Yes, loyal friends indeed. After the open mic session was the official turnover of Reef’s donation of P30,000 to WWF for WWF’s environmental programs. The night ended with a beach party and overflowing drinks.


20170930_063134The next day opened with the Surfari Beginners’ Competition. Another one of the highlights of the 3-day event was sitting around the windy shore enjoying the scene and fine weather with friends while watching the competition. It did rain eventually towards the end of the competition as the others went scurrying for cover. I struggled in Heat 4 as the rains came in. Experience was a wow for me, despite having the worst performance in the group. Winners were announced during the party at night.

Shan Alejos won 1st place for the Tandem category, followed by Mikaela Alde, with Joana Valencia coming in 3rd place; and in the singles category Juan Carlos Angeles, bagged the first place, with Marcus Dieter and JP Pang coming in second and third place respectively.

20170930_215442The day wrapped up with a festive After Party which capped the weekend. The lambanog competition prior to the dance-away party was a surprise as well as the aftermath. Beware of the lambanog powers. The next morning was a burst of stories of different happenings during the night, some of which I have seen and some I haven’t.


Let’s leave it at that as this is all part of the fun Baler beach experience. As they say what happens in Baler, stays in Baler.  We packed our bags before breakfast buffet, bought some pasalubong, took some last minute photos before hopping on our bus.   I made plans in my mind to return soon, so I took some numbers and scoped the beach side area for other activities before the bus arrived.  Hoping for another similar adventure soon with a big group like this.  You rock, Reef!! When’s the next one?