WINNING FORM. Nilbie Blancada of Siargao Island shows her winning form in ruling the Women’s Open Short Board category of the 1st Mayor Sol’s National Surfing Competition that ended Saturday (Oct. 1, 2022) at Cloud 9 Surfing Site in Gen. Luna, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte. Another local surfer, Noah Arkfeld, topped the men’s category. (Courtesy of Office of Cong. Bingo Matugas)

BUTUAN CITY – Local surfers took advantage of their familiarity with the waves to dominate the 1st Mayor Sol’s National Surfing Competition at Cloud 9 in Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte on Saturday.

The event was the first national competition in Siargao since the Covid-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020 and after the devastation of Typhoon Odette in December last year.

A total of 140 Filipino surfers competed -- 121 males and 19 females.

Noah Arkfeld topped the Men’s Open Short Board category, besting Robert Timbal of Catanduanes and province mates Jayward Alceso and Benjomar Canon, who placed third and fourth, respectively.

Arkfeld garnered 11.75 in the finals while Timbal could only score 3.20 points.

Nilbie Blancada ruled the women's division over Diane Nogalo, and Susan Escanilla in an all-Siargo podium finish.

The champions received PHP80,000 in cash each, the second placers PHP50,000, and the third placers PHP25,000 each.

Mayor Sol Matugas of Gen. Luna town thanked all involved “who went out of their way to give their time, resources, and talents.”

“I’m happy that we have renewed our family spirit under this surfing event,” Matugas said in a speech.

The event, sanctioned by the United Philippine Surfing Association, was a qualifier for the 26th Siargao International Surfing Cup slated October 15 to 21.

Matugas said the international competition will bring in more arrivals on the island and declared they are ready for the hosting.

Data from the local tourism office in Gen. Luna showed 44,482 arrivals registered in the town from April to August this year.

From 257,900 tourist arrivals in 2019, Siargao tourists dropped to 67,717 in 2020.

No local and foreign arrivals were registered in April, May, and October 2020.

In 2021, the number further declined to 28,287, including 737 foreign guests. (PNA)