Surfer, model, environmental- and ecotourism advocate @piasurf moved from a life in the USA back home to the Philippines to follow her dreams and live out the values that were important to her. Here at Kudo Surf, she shares her story of making her way to Living The Dream.
Pia is deeply involved in livelihood projects, environmental work, and mentoring children in Gubat, Sorsogon, where she now lives with her boyfriend Bidge Villarroya. She describes her typical day at her beach home, where she wakes up and surfs if the waves are good, and checks out the Surf Camp, where they help with a community livelihood project for the surfers and their families. She spends her time working on “education on marine wildlife, rescue training, organising national surf competitions, and tutoring kids. We end the day by surfing with the kids after they get out of school.”
Chasing the dream was no easy feat for Pia and it took a lot of reflection and a strong will to make a change. “After working for an agroforestry non-profit in Maui, Hawaii, I realized I should be doing work were my heart dwells. I wrote in my journal of the things that are important to me: ‘live a purposeful life, serve people, still model but blend my passion for traveling / surfing with it, explore my home country, and live according to my beliefs.’ In a single spontaneous moment that would change so much, I booked a ticket back home.”
Despite growing up next to the beach, there were times Pia lived by the mountains or had to work in the city, such as Atlanta and Manila. In “both places I just spent my free time driving to surf, sometimes 10-16 hour drives just for the weekend. It did not make sense that I had to escape the place I lived in. I decided to be happy where I live, so I moved.” Fortunately, Pia works as a freelance model, which allows her to pursue her passion, be involved in other activities, and live outside the city. She says of modelling, “[it] has given me a platform for my advocacies. That is also why I started to do it. In this world, we have to fight for a voice for the things we believe in. With all that… I have to travel to Manila often for work.“
Going for her dreams required a lot of sacrifice and hard work. “I have to give up much of my personal work when doing community projects. Living by the beach is not all coconut trees and sunshine. It can be stressful at times too. But this is my choice because it’s what I really want.”
Still learning to balance work and personal life, she stays grounded in her values: “[you] cannot forget yourself and cannot forget the community as well. Being grounded and staying grateful are essential.” The things she loves most about living by the beach are “surfing and the sea.” But for Pia, this life is not just about taking as many waves as possible. She describes a simpler life that involves a spiritual aspect, and how giving back to the community is essential. “Simply put, the sea gives me peace and surfing has been my biggest mentor. It’s a lifelong teacher of character, living simply, and how to improve myself. It helps me see my place in this vast universe. It’s spiritual for me and I hope people find a deeper value from surfing. It gives me joy to see the kids surfing and how much it is redirecting and giving back to their lives.”
Tell us your own story of how you’ve dared to make the move to the beach, how you might be thriving (or struggling!) with it, and get a chance to win a gift pack of Kudo Surf merchandise!
1. Like Kudo Surf on Facebook and Instagram
2. Share this post on Facebook together with your own story, OR post on Instagram and tag us @kudosurf.
3. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #LivingTheDreamKS!
Winner will be announced on June 18. We can’t wait to read your stories! Open to Philippine residents only.
Words and photos by Sabs Bengzon