Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Life in a Northern Town Part One: San Juan, La Union

Life in a Northern Town
Part One: Surf Town
by rick olivares

Thursday, September 5, 2013
San Juan, La Union
There’s a sense of great anticipation that has been building for over a week since this trip was planned. And it has been about five months in the making. A wave of excitement engulfed my body the moment we entered Surf Town in Urbiztondo, San Juan, La Union.

I see the longboards propped up against the wall. From the distance, I can see a few surfers lounging about the calm waters as there are no waves for them to ride.

A couple of bronzed sea urchins run towards me. “Ankle! Ankle!,” they chorus. It takes me a few seconds to realize that they were not referring to my ankle but were calling me, ‘uncle’.

“Surfing lesson,” one asks pointing to some surfboards.

“Later or tomorrow,” I reply. “Pupunta kami kasi ng Baguio mamaya. Pero babalik kami.”

“Yakult,” offers the second youngster who I will get to know as ‘Mark’ later on. He fishes out a pack of Yakult from a cooler. “Fifty pesos lang.”

Surf Town in Urbiztondo is a small patch of surf in this once quiet seaside town in the north. When the father and son tandem of Aussies Brian and Luke Landrigan decided to ride the waves here, it quickly became a hot spot for tourists and surfers everywhere.

Today, Thursday, there aren’t much folks about. Fridays and Saturdays, the place will be packed and rocking.

The original surfing school and shop used to be a hole in the wall operation but has since mushroomed into a neighborhood of hotels for surfers and sun worshippers.

We speak with the local surfing champion Jhay-R Esquivel who we’re doing a short video with tomorrow and on Saturday (more on him later). The kid is 17-years old but is carting home trophies like they can be bought at the local sari sari store. He’s a phenom, proudly boasts one local and I am all the more intrigued to take some surfing lessons from the kid.

During that lunch with the Esquivels, I bump into old friend Marcus Adoro of the Eraserheads. We used to chat about La Union all the time on Yahoo Messenger. It took over a decade for him to get me here and well, better late than never.

He doesn’t look changed at all. I ask him how he is and he says he’s putting up a new band. Adoro recently purchased a place of his own here in San Juan where he stays for a week or more before going back to Manila.

We promise to come back on Friday as we’re headed towards Baguio and Benguet.

We clasp hands and bid our goodbyes.

It’s time to go up to the City of Pines (until SM, the so-called good guys made a mess of nature) where we’re doing a video and a story on Team Lakay, that legendary Mixed Martial Arts outfit that has produced so many local and international champions.

That wave of excitement engulfs me again.

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