If you’ve already had enough of doing indoor activities during the long lockdown and are looking for safer activities to do outdoors (we still advise you to stay at home, but we understand that we also need activities under the sun) then a low maintenance outdoor activity that you could try is skateboarding. You literally only have to have a skateboarding set and a pavement to practice.
Still, there’s no denying that despite the simplicity of the sport in terms of gears, it can still be quite intimidating for some women. After all, not everyone has a circle of skateboarding friends (just like in HBO’s skateboarding show “Betty”) who you could instantly ask questions about the sport or simply have fun and skate with.
To help you become more familiar with the sport, we talked to five skateboarders around the country, from Manila, Siargao and Cagayan de Oro, to share their stories while on wheels, as well as tips for people who are interested in joining the scene.
Kaya Katigbak, Pasig
When her dad gave her a skateboard, Kaya Katigbak “instantly fell in love with it,” the 20-year-old information design student from Ateneo, confesses.
“Nothing compares to the feeling of cruising down a road or hill and feeling the wind breeze through your entire body. It is a genuinely fun way to exercise and learn more about what you’re capable of. It’s a great way to relieve yourself from stress and just breathe,” she says.
Skateboarding is an activity she enjoys with friends because of the sport’s ability to liven up their routine. Recalling one of her favorite things to do with her friends when they skate together, she says, “We would regularly attach a dog leash to the back of a bike and grab on and ride along with the bike, kunwari wakeboarding. Minsan walang dog leash tapos kapit na lang dun sa bike mismo for a speed boost.”
Katigbak suggests that girls interested in skateboarding should go for second hand setups first because brand new skateboards can be really expensive (costing as much as P4,000). For shoes, she recommends cheap inexpensive footwear from Isetann in Cubao, as the sport would get them scuffed soon enough. For online tutorials, she recommends watching Spencer Nuzzi and Aaron Kyro’s videos.
Mimay Villela, Cavite
Mimay Villela started skateboarding out of curiosity after seeing her older brother skate. Like other beginners, she got her first bail (falling off a board) on her first ride. She remained undaunted, however. “Skateboarding is not just a sport, it’s something that gives me positive energy, it’s my stress reliever and my happy pill,” Villela explains.
Located in the south of Manila, Old Spot is her favorite hangout space in Tagaytay, a DIY Skatepark where locals have built concrete obstacles for skateboard enthusiasts. Villela also organizes events for the Tagaytay Skate Community (TSC) to help skaters experience such events as Go Skateboarding Day. She wants to support local rippers by providing gear that they need to develop their skills.
For girls looking for a skateboarding community to be part of, she suggests following Let Her Speak – 2600 Skateboarding, an organization of women skaters against rape culture in Baguio. She notes that the organization was created to stop sexual harassment in the skate scene.
Villela, now a mother of two, says that her 4-year old daughter already knows how to ride a skateboard while her younger kid can stand on one. She likes how a piece of wood can bind the family together.
Izza Bade’s skateboarding journey all started when she got invited to a skate park. Today, Bade—also known as Daydi—is now recognized as one of the top skateboarders in Cagayan de Oro.
“[Skateboarding] is really empowering. It just smashes the standards of what a woman can be capable of,” Bade says. “We have a huge skate community here in CDO but we also came up with ‘sk8bombs’ an all-female scene here to help out ladies who want to start with skateboarding,” says Bade.
Bade is always excited to hype beginners up and to motivate them to do better. The feeling of being able to help them land a new trick and being remembered for it makes her proud. She’d be happy to be approached if anyone needs help. “Minsan nga ako na nag-aapproach if parang alam ko need nila, and tell them the right way to do it para less bails.”
Bade wants to abolish the misconception that skateboarding leads nowhere. Skateboarding originated when surfers improvised boards to accommodate surfers who wanted to feel the waves on concrete so it should be primarily for fun and there should be no pressure, she says, adding that the activity, at the very least, can draw people away from their phones and computers.
Gieliane Harbaliga is a 26-year-old skateboarder from Siargao who, when she’s not using her board, inks tattoos for a living and has a day job at a resort. She’s also learning how to surf.
She started skateboarding in 2010 and recalls that she and her friends were just having fun with a single board until eventually they learned to do tricks. She says that her favorite moment when learning new tricks is “that feeling you get when you do something [right]for the first time. [It’s] pure bliss.”
To overcome parental resistance and their fears that she would be injured in the sport, she invited them to competitions she participated in. Her mom, afraid to see her bail, didn’t come. But after that incident, her family became more open with what she does, “They figured this is really what I want to do,” she says.
For girls based in Manila, she recommends checking SkateMunchkins, a group that organizes all-girl competitions that welcome beginners. “Skateboarding is not just a hobby, it’s a way of life,” says Harbaligas.
“I am an adrenaline junkie and I love extreme sports,” says Taguig-based director and production designer, Moto Quin.
Quin is adept in any sport with wheels; she keeps a skateboard and a longboard and owns a pair of aggressive inline skates. Some days, you can see her riding her cafe racer or using her dirt bike on mountain trails and river crossings. Not a surprise since she grew up in a sporty family, with other family members who play and compete in different sports on wheels. Sports brings her family closer, she says.
Skateboarding for Quin is her exercise since she prefers being outdoors than working out in the gym. When she heads out for short distances, she grabs her skateboard instead of walking. “The relaxation that I get from the gentle touch of the cool breeze on my face also makes my long hair flow,” she says.
Quin points out that one of the problems in the country’s skate scene is the lack of available skateparks, which is why skateboarders can be a source of annoyance to security guards who see them using streets and private roads for the sport. “My dream is to have more public indoor and outdoor skateparks that are accessible to provide a safer environment for my fellow skateboarders and extreme sports enthusiasts,” she says.
For those starting out, she recommends going to Playground Factory in Cainta, an indoor skatepark owned by a skateboarder. It was built by the Quilla Skate Shop, and according to Quin, the shop sponsors Filipino skateboarders in the country and abroad. The owners encourage riders to study hard as well. Riders simply show their report cards to get a reward from the shop for good grades. Aside from that, “there’s a Facebook page called ‘Skate Surf Inline Bmx girls’ where you can get updates from the local skate community and make friends with other women skateboarders,” Quin adds.
Finally, she advises girls not to be embarrassed about wearing protective gear when practicing, “I bailed during a longboard downhill tournament, I got a lot of big wounds or as we call it ‘tocino’ and if it wasn’t for my helmet I would have gotten a worse injury.”