Luke Landrigan: Chairman of the board
THE DIALOGUE - Raymond Gutierrez () - March 11, 2011 - 12:00am

Can I take a dip?” Prosurfer Luke Landrigan couldn’t contain himself upon entering the lush poolside of Maxims Hotel at Resorts World. With its cozy cabanas, palm trees, and a pool made up of glass walls (yes, you can see what goes on underwater) it made for a perfect backdrop to usher in the upcoming summer season. For someone who just got back from the beach that same morning, you’d think he’d be less excited about jumping in the water. But as the day progressed, it was clear that being in the water was Luke’s comfort zone. He says, “Going to the beach and surfing was like second nature to me growing up. It was like walking and talking. I just did it from a very early age.”

The half-Australian athlete spent his childhood chasing waves on his surfboard in La Union and, ’til this day, spends most of his time in the surfing capital of the north. He visits Australia once a year and competes internationally — even bagging the Silver Medal in the Asian Beach Games held in Bali, Indonesia and is the first Filipino to be signed with the Billabong South East Asia Surf Team. When he’s not conquering waves across the region, he resumes his work as head instructor in the Billabong Surf School in La Union where tourists of all ages try their luck at the sport. This week, Luke displays his enviable year-round tan as we get to know the face of surfing in the Philippines.

Date night: With a busy schedule that involves a lot of traveling, Luke says his ideal girl would have to understand surf culture.

YOUNG STAR: For a place with over 7,000 islands, do you think the surf culture in the Philippines is a bit lacking?

Yeah, I think it is, if you compare it to a place like Bali. There’s a surf spot there with airplanes arriving every five minutes full of tourists. And that’s just one island in Indonesia.

With such beautiful islands, what do you think can be done to strengthen the local surf culture and turn it into a tourist goldmine?

Easier access and more direct flights would surely help. It’s hard to get to some of the spots such as Surigao, La Union and Baler. La Union’s airport was recently extended so it could handle bigger planes.

It must be nice to earn from something you’re passionate about. When did surfing turn from a hobby into a livelihood?

I started surfing competitively when I was 14 but it wasn’t until I turned pro at 19 that I really started earning from it, when I opened my surf school and started winning competitions.

What’s the biggest misconception about surfers?

That we’re lazy and we smoke pot all day. Diba, that’s how people see us? Before when I would get introduced to the parents of my girlfriends they would always ask, “Surfer? What’s his job? Bakit ang gulo ng buhok niya?” We work and we have responsibilities. We just really look like bums.

Hello mellow: Luke admits listening to more mellow tunes such as Rod Stewart and jazz artists before hitting the waves.

(Laughs)

If you could join any reality show, which one would it be?

Survivor. I want to test myself and see if I can survive out there with absolutely nothing. I can’t do Big Brother. I’d go crazy being stuck inside a house.

If you weren’t a professional surfer, what do you think you would be now?

Still something to do with the beach, so maybe a fisherman. (Laughs)

How does it feel to be the face of the sport in the country?

It’s an added responsibility but it’s good because we’re trying to come up with the Philippine Surfing Championship — a more legit nationwide surfing competition in order to send the top surfers to the next Asian Beach Games. It’s good mileage for us.

Who’s your mentor?

My dad. He’s 73 and he still surfs.

With the success of the Azkals in football, do you think surfing can have that same kind of future in the country?

I think so. I hope the same attention will be given to surfing in the future. It’s more realistic for us to get to the top internationally with football and surfing than in basketball. You don’t need to be seven feet tall to make it to the top.

Any exciting summer plans?

Summer is like work for us because we get a lot of tourists at that time. So it will be a working summer for me.

ASIAN BEACH GAMES BIG BROTHER BILLABONG SOUTH EAST ASIA SURF TEAM BILLABONG SURF SCHOOL CAN I LA UNION LEFT SURFING
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