The local government unit of Guiuan in Eastern Samar will push Calicoan Island to be one of the major surfing destinations in the Philippines.
Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan said on Tuesday that the presence of about 200 athletes from different parts of the country for the weeklong 2023 NextGen Pilipinas Surfing National Tour event is a good opportunity for them to start promoting Calicoan again as the surfing capital, not just in Eastern Visayas but for the Visayas regions.
“We plan to relaunch our tourism program next month, which will highlight surfing as one of the main attractions for local, domestic and foreign tourists,” Kwan said in an interview.
Located about 23 kilometers from the town center, the eastern seaboard of Calicoan, particularly the ABCD (Advance Base Construction Depot) beach, a US Naval military base during World War II, is a surfing haven for locals and tourists visiting the town.
Its reef breaks make it unique compared with other surfing destinations in the country. It has great left and right-handed reef breaks between June and October.
Kwan said preparing the island for its relaunch as a surfing capital is not easy since they have to consider aspects like the infrastructure support and lighting of the road.
“We still need more support because our national tax allocation is very small; we need support from every sector and office of the national government,” she added.
Kwan said that aside from the surfing spots in Calicoan, the western part of the island facing the Leyte Gulf is a beautiful site for relaxation and other beach activities.
The presence of more surfers and tourists visiting the island would mean more income for the community because it triggers economic activities, providing livelihood and job opportunities to the locals.
The airport in Borongan City provided surfers with easier access to Guiuan town since it takes three hours of travel by land to get to Guiuan from the airport in Tacloban City.
Businesses in Calicoan are now slowly recovering from the effects of past typhoons like Super Typhoon Yolanda, where it made its first landfall.
Some resorts and hotels on the island are back in business, while others are under rehabilitation.
Guiuan is hosting the 2023 NextGen Pilipinas Surfing National Tour, a seven-day event from Sept. 15 to 21.
Kwan said the town allocated over PHP900,000 for the preparation and prizes on top of the donations from private companies and offices for other activities related to the competition.
She also thanked the city government of Borongan through Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda for assisting them in hosting United Philippine Surfing Association members, especially in sponsoring their round-trip plane tickets for the national event.
Before Calicoan, the first leg of NextGen Pilipinas Surfing Nationals 2023 was in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, from Sept. 1 to 7.
Another leg of the surfing competition will be in Baler, Aurora; Borongan City, Eastern Samar; and Cabugao, Ilocos Sur.
The event is organized by the local government unit of Guiuan, United Philippine Surfing Association (UPSA), and the local surfing organizations of Calicoan Island and Eastern Samar –ABCD Surf Calicoan Local Surfers Samrayan Surfboards, The Backyard Surf Co. and the Surfriders Club of Eastern Samar Inc.
It is sanctioned by the UPSA, the national sports body for surfing in the Philippines, and recognized by the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee as a regular member.
Calicoan, unlike other popular surfing destinations in the country, is known for its left-handler waves, which surfers would dream of surfing. (PNA)