Interview with model Elaine Abonal

Charlyne Réhel —

The days are getting longer, the sun warmer... summer is definitely around the corner! As many of you already know, our summer collection will be launched this month. We wanted to introduce you our muse this collection, Elaine Abonal, one of the face of our photo shoot which took place on Siargao Island last spring. Born and raised in the Philippines, Elaine inspired us with her kind heart and salty soul.  

Always searching for the perfect waves, Elaine has been travelling all around the world for several years before putting down her bags on the palm trees island. Through the years, she has seen the surf culture grow in the Philippines and decided to open Surfista Travels, her very own surf camp located in Siargao. It's her way to help the local community and share her passion for surfing. 

What's the best way to mix travel, surf and connecting with people from all around the world? Surfista Travels is a surf camp where all surf levels are welcome. More than just a surf lesson, it's a way to travel differently and meet new people who, just like you, wanna get salty! 

We’ve caught up with some questions for Elaine to help us know her better...

Credit : Marija Rathe

June Swimwear: When and how did you start Surfista Travels ? 
Elaine Abonal: I had been surfing and travelling for 10 years and was always at the San Juan Surf Resort in La Union. Because of that I became close to Brian Landrigan (Australian owner of San Juan Surf Resort and one of the pioneer surfers of the Philippines) and his son Luke Landrigan (Filipino pro surfer and owner of San Juan Surf School). They had seen me spread the word about surfing and brought my friends and friends of friends on surf trips. In 2011 when we went to Thailand, they encouraged me and told me that I could always do surfing for fun but that it’s also something I can do as my own business. They knew that I had the resources, support, and passion for it, so I thought about it and realized that they were right! They helped me, and I told my friends and family about it and then I launched Surfista Travels Philippines in 2012.

J: Where did your passion for surfing hit you?
E: I’ve always loved traveling and the ocean ever since I was a little girl. Growing up in the Philippines, we were always going to the beach as a family or with my friends. When I was a high school exchange student to the United States, my host family took me to Florida and there I saw surfers, surfboards and the whole culture of surfing. I was so curious about it all that I started researching about surfing in the Philippines. The Philippines is an archipelago with thousands of
islands, there MUST be surfing here. So, when I got back in 2002, I took
my first surf lessons and I never stopped since.

J: Why did you decide to start your own surf lesson camp in the
E: I thought that if I was going to have to work, it might as well be doing things that I loved, which was surfing, teaching, and meeting different kinds of people. Also, back then, starting to surf for Filipinos or women especially, was very hard. If you didn't know where to go, where to stay, who to learn from and what to do in a new destination, you could easily just give up and get discouraged from traveling and learning how to surf. Surfista Travels Surf Camps and Lessons were my own way of contributing to grow the Philippine Surf Community and to encourage girls and women of all ages from the Philippines and around the world to give surfing a try.

J: What do you love most about your job?
E: I love watching people stand up on a wave for the first time ever in their whole lives and seeing their faces light up when they feel the magic of riding on ocean energy. I also love being able to connect and be one with the locals and all kinds of people once we're in the water and cheering for each other when surfing.

J: Do you have people from all around the globe in your surf camp?
E: Yes! Thanks to instagram and social media, a lot of people - especially women - are discovering the Philippines as a place to surf and it's been
amazing to connect with different kinds of people who share the same
love and passion for surfing and the ocean.

J: What does Surfista Travels offer?
E: We offer Surfista Lessons, Day Packages, Weekend Surf Packages and Weeklong Surf Packages. We also do customized Surf Camps for groups -
minimum of 4 people per group.

 J: Can you tell us how do you choose your instructors?
E: I've been going to Siargao Island for 13 years so I know a lot of the locals and instructors in the community. I choose those that are professional, that see my vision of how I want the Surfista Travels experience to be like, that are encouraging, good at communicating and keeping our students safe.

Credit : Surfista Travels
J: What do you do before every surf lesson with your instructors?
E: We've been working together for a long time already, so we know how each other work. But before lessons, I always introduce the students to them
and give them a background of the students' surfing history, what would
probably work for them on that day and make sure that the area is safe
and suitable for surf lessons.

J: What is your hidden passion? What do you do when you’re not on your
board ready to surf?
E: I love Photography. These days I'm in front of the camera a lot, but I
love just having a camera (any kind! Polaroid, film camera, iphone, my
Canon dSLR) and capturing moments. I love taking pictures and looking at
beautiful photos.

J: Do you have something that you eat every time before and after you go
E: I make sure I am well hydrated before and after surfing so I drink a lot
of water. Peanut butter toasts also seem to make me full longer!

J: If you could say one advice for the new surfer out there, what would
you say?
E: You are braver and stronger than you think. Don't give up. Keep going. Keep paddling :)

You wanna learn more about Elaine's surf camp ? 
Here's all the informations you'll need - Surfista Travels website, Facebook and Instagram

Team June xx