Siargaonon Shaper: Din Litangan
Living The Dream isn’t simply about moving from the big bad city to a paradise island—it’s really about living the life you want doing the work you love in a place you cherish. It’s about having agency over your life and your decisions and nurturing the community and environment you live in. Siargao locals know they have it good in this booming little surf town, and many of them, despite having options to live elsewhere, choose to return or stay and inject life and love into their growing hometown.
One of the first local board shapers in the Philippines, Din Litangan now thrives as the premiere board shaper based out of Siargao Island. Born and raised in General Luna, he mentions that growing up in Siargao back then had its share of difficulties. Supplies were very hard to get and the town of Dapa was the only place to get many of the things they needed.
The surf bug bit him hard in sixth grade, with Din often skipping school without his parents knowledge just to go surfing. Like all the die hard surfers, he says, “I got addicted to it just like most people did.” The waves, variety of manoeuvres, and the fact that you never stop learning to surf better keeps him in love with it: “Every day is different. You try different moves even when you get more wipe outs and cuts.”
On how he got his start with shaping boards: “It all started with surfboard repairs back in 1996. Then I tried to attempt shaping a board in 1998 from an old thick surfboard from the 70’s.” He worked for a few years with a local shaping company in Metro Manila, customising and shaping surfboards for a very small and young market of Filipino surfers.
After his time in Manila, he decided to return to Siargao, for several reasons. “I think the reason why I decided to go back here is that Manila is way different and life in the city is no good. I like Siargao better. Plus the surfboard market here is much higher than in Manila. In Manila, one client will order one board only unlike here one client might order three or more.”
These days, he develops boards and brings local shaping to new heights through his work in Cocosurf. What inspires him most in his work is his daughter. “I work hard for her.” The business is thriving and more and more surfers are turning to him to shape their boards. “My goal is I wanted Cocosurf to become more and more popular in the industry like foreign brands of surfboards. For sure if this board business grows, I want to employ more people to work for Cocosurf. It’s actually good, it gives jobs to a lot of people living on the island instead of them having to go to Manila to find jobs. Instead they can work here on the island.”
The simple life and on the island keeps Din’s heart in Siargao. “What I love about Siargao is that life is simple and away from the pollution of the city. Plus, I can go surf anytime if I wanted to.”
Words and Photos by Sabs Bengzon