San Juan, La Union, Philippines –It’s that time of year again for the highly anticipated Single & Unattached Classic Single Fin Longboard Invitational to set up camp in the Surfing Capital of the North from the 9th – 17th of February, which in addition to the surfing competition and beach parties will include special programs about environmental awareness and climate change, due in part to a current threat to the beauty and longevity of La Union from a proposed coal-fired powerplant just a few miles north of this unique tourist centric surfing destination.
From a small few nipa huts on the beach 20 years ago, to the thriving tourist destination that it has become today, surfing has been the driver of San Juan’s success, and with the well documented polluting effects of coal fired energy on not only sea and ground water, but air and soil as well, the local community is understandably against this project as within 5 years of its launching, not only will their tourism numbers start to dwindle, but fish and other seafood as well as fruits and vegetables from the area will no longer be safe to consume. A bleak future to ponder for such a unique and beautiful place.
Just last September 2018, communities in La Union experienced first-hand the effects of human-aggravated global warming through Category 5 Typhoon Mangkhut (Ompong) that slammed through North Luzon resulting into 127 casualties in the region. Just three weeks after, Category 4 Typhoon Yutu (Rosita) followed the same path as Ompong, stripping away vegetation, creating food security issues, and killing at least 27 people due to landslides.
In La Union, it is the local communities that suffer the effects of Climate Change the mos, and this is what has inspired Single & Unattached 2019 to go beyond just being a surf competition.
“We’ve felt the immense strength of global warming through last year’s typhoon season. And even before 2019 started, tropical depression USMAN caused havoc in the south having up to 87 casualties. The climate has changed and we need to do our part to educate our community,” encouraged Buji Libarnes, organizer of Single & Unattached 2019.
So, to further educate and expose these issues to a wider audience, and as San Juan’s Ecology Week is during the same time period, the event time frame has been extended in order to include special environmental programs, with the plan of having the surfing competition waiting period from the 12th-17th of Feb.
And of course, as the original idea for the Single and Unattached moniker came from a Valentine’s Day play on the combination of using only Single Fin logs and not allowing leg ropes (leashes) to be worn, expect to party and mingle at the various venues around the beach before, during and after Valentine’s Day in and around the surfing competition.
This year’s Single and Unattached will include the Men’s Invitational, Women’s Invitational, Single Fin Shorty (waves permitting), and Tiny Toes (Junior) Divisions, with prize money of PHP 50,000 (approximately $1,000 USD) for the winners of the Men’s Invitational and Women’s Invitations. Other finalists and winners of other divisions will receive prizes and products from the various sponsors.
“We’re really excited to have the seventh Single & Unattached this February,” says event co-creator Buji Libarnes. “It’s going to be a weeklong surfing festival celebrating the classic art of Single Fin surfing and pure Pinoy Aloha in the surfing capital of the Philippines, San Juan, La Union. It’s also a perfect way to celebrate the month of love as we’ve prepared yet another amazing free post Valentine beach concert. We’re excited to host some of the world’s top loggers as well as the nation’s best classic longboarders as they share waves and good vibes in this much awaited fun event.”
Invitations have been sent and the responses are coming in from international and local loggers alike, including Kaimana Takayama (HAW), Keoki Saguibo (HAW), Rosie Jaffurs (HAW), Amy Hewton (AUS), Sean Nettleton (AUS), William Ross (AUS) Kota Yokoyama (JAP), Naoki Kato (JAP), Kuniatsu Shibata (JAP), Carla Rowland – Zamora (USA), Ian Zamora (USA/PHP), Leena Mun (KOR), Flora Christin (IDN) and Dean Permana (IDN), to join in this Valentine’s week festival that celebrates love and passion for classic single fin surfing, love for great music, and last but not least…love for Mother Earth.
Single & Unattached 2019 will kick off with a Welcome Party hosted by VANS at MAKA Studio on Saturday, February 9. The week-long event will include a talk by Retired Environmental Scientist Ruben Guieb, who will educate the audience about the effects of large-scale fossil fuel combustion and its effects on biodiversity, surfing, agriculture, water security, and food security, to be held at Clean Beach, in Urbiztondo, San Juan on Wednesday February 13.
Other key events include a surf-inspired art exhibit on Feb 15 at MAKA Studio, and from Feb 16-17 there will be a Ridge Reef Recyclers market hosted by the San Juan local community where guests will have access to local treats, goodies, and pre-loved items at Clean Beach.
The competition waiting period is planned for Feb 12-17, with the primary venue being Mona Lisa Point unless a magic swell gets Carille Point firing. Waves permitting the finals will happen on Feb 16, as there will be live bands and the award presentation for a big Saturday night party. On the final day of February17, participants will be invited for a beach cleanup, surf expression session, and a send-off party. (*)