SURFING CHAMP. John Mark Tokong celebrates with fellow surfers after winning the championship of the 26th Siargao International Surfing Competition Men’s Qualifying Series 1000 on Monday (Oct. 17, 2022) at Cloud 9, Gen. Luna Siargao Island. Nilbie Blancada, a native of Siargao Island, also won the crown for the Women’s Qualifying Series 1000. (Photo courtesy of the MyLife On Board Facebook Page of Mike Eijansantos)

BUTUAN CITY – Local surfers from Siargao Island emerged victorious in the men’s and women’s qualifying series 1000 of the 26th Siargao International Surfing Competition at the Cloud 9 Surfing Site here on Monday afternoon.

The tourney's final round went ahead of schedule on the same day as the quarterfinals and the semifinal rounds were completed earlier due to the good waves and favorable weather conditions.

It was a back-to-back championship for John Mark Tokong as he won in the final round of the men’s qualifying series 1000 over Oney Anwar of Indonesia.

Tokong won the 25th Siargao International Surfing Competition here in 2019 before the series was stalled for two years due to the pandemic.

Another surfer from Siargao, Philmar Alipayo, ranked third, and Robert Magaluna settled in fourth place.

Tokong won the USD2,500 cash prize while Anwar bagged the USD1,500 prize for second place.

In the women’s qualifier series 1000, Nilbie Blancada, a Siargao native, grabbed the championship crown with a cash prize of USD2,500.

She bested Japanese surfer Anon Matsuoka who secured the second spot with a USD1,500 prize.

Blancada was also the champion of the recently-concluded 1st Mayor Sol’s National Surfing Competition on Oct. 2.

Two more women surfers from Japan, Nanaho Tzusuki and Sumomo Sato, settled for the third and fourth spots, respectively.

Surigao del Norte 1st District Rep. Francisco Jose Matugas II welcomed the result of the tourney.

“Congratulations to our very own John Mark ‘Marama’ Tokong. Thank you for making our province and our country proud,” Matugas said in a message.

The office of Rep. Matugas is among the partners of the local government of Gen. Luna, the World Surfing League (WSL), and the United Philippines Surfing Association (UPSA) in the staging of the large-scale surfing event.

The UPSA also released a statement, recognizing the two winners, as well as the rest of the surfers who joined the competition.

“He’s (Tokong) our first back-to-back champion here in the Philippines since winning the 2019 Siargao International Cup,” the UPSA said.

Tokong has been on a winning streak since claiming the 2022 Phuket Beach Festival championship for the men’s shortboard in Thailand.

“What an amazing journey going into the finals, from facing off with the best from Japan and Indonesia and even taking on fellow Siargao legend, Philmar Alipayo, before proceeding to battle it out on a pumping Cloud 9 with Indonesian favorite, Oney Anwar,” the UPSA said.

On Blancada's win, the UPSA also described the female surfer as “unstoppable when it came to displaying her mastery of the waves, and she was at her best as Cloud 9 showed off and delivered on bigger and more pumping sets.”

 The women’s qualifying series 1000, it said, also marked a milestone in women’s surfing in the country. (PNA)