Stoked, In The Truest Sense Of The Word, In Zambales

As a child I never really understood what raising my middle finger meant, yet I admit that I did extend mine for all the world to see at one point. As a rebel-without-a-cause teenager, I kept flashing the horns sign (aka the punk rock sign) and regarded myself as a "cool kid". Turns out, the hand gesture had a deeper meaning to it, a sign of protection against the evil and negative. And finally, in my twenties, I kept doing the peace sign when posing in photos, having adapted the ways of swag squad CL, Dara, GD, and the rest of my idols, not realizing that the kyeopta v-sign is also used to express triumph or victory. 

And now comes the stoked sign. The dictionary meaning of stoked translates to excited and euphoric, and I honestly never really understood what it meant per se, until a recent trip to Zambales. Before this, I would only associate the word with surfers and skateboarders, or Tom DeLonge, my first ever crush. And I never felt I had the right to actually do the sign myself, thinking it didn't suit me well.

But yes, to be stoked in life is a wonderful feeling, and I would certainly wish it upon others. It describes a state of happiness wherein you uncontrollably smile and squint your eyes, not wary of the fact that you might be looking too gummy or are grinning like a lunatic for the Instagram photos. Stoked is the state of mind I've taken with me, back from the said Zambales trip.


The sun can truly bring happiness. I've experienced and proved it countless of times, like that one morning when I had my period and the sun's reflection on the water was too impossible to resist. I made myself learn how to use a tampon so I could "swim". It was a success and I felt like an accomplished woman. I also got to snorkel and make the most of beach time until my skin got wrinkly and I got stung by a jellyfish, both of which were enough reasons to get me out of the water.

Meanwhile, back to my Zambales rendezvous, it was one of those Saturday mornings when I had promised myself to work (by this I mean corporate work, household chores work, making relationships work, et cetera) but thanks to the moon's alignment, we were given a long weekend break (because, Eid al-Fitr). Yay. And of course I didn't want to spend the sudden holiday working indoors.

My mother was fearful that I'd tire myself from my spur-of-the-moment trip and expressed her apprehensions in the following exchange:

Me: Hi, I’m going to Zambales.
Mother: When?
Me: Later.
Mother: (in a more surprised tone than I can type) WHAT??
Mother: Are you sure you still can? You’re spreading yourself too thinly again (note the indirect attack on my skinny frame!)
Me: I’m okay with being tired from a trip.
Mother: But what if you get sick?
Me: I’d rather get sick from traveling than get sick from too much work.

And so my mother could not think of a rebuttal to my statement and let me be. So I happily called up my jowa and forced him to take part in my plans, ate lunch, took a nap, packed my bags and left, and all with my mother’s blessing.

Finding a place was easy, as my only requirement was that the room should take less than a hundred steps to the beach, and that the shore is free for all, no barriers, no curfew, no rules. We stayed at Sabina beach resort, which I highly recommend if you want just the basics for a reasonable price. Otherwise, you're free to book other options as you please.


Zambales Philippines Night Sky Photography

My jowa and I arrived at twelve midnight and while the sun was nowhere to be found, that didn't matter. I had baon Earl Grey tea bags with me and the kindly hotel keeper at Sabina provided us with cups at our disposal, so we were able to warm ourselves by sipping tea, sitting by the beach amid the cold midnight air and gusty wind from the sea.


The waves were running wild the next morning. The tita in me had the purest intentions to sunbathe, and, you know ~wade~ in the sea, but of course it was impossible. We tried going into the waves, only to be harshly scolded by mother nature and told not to, because we were spun around like clothes in a washing machine and were knocked down. In that moment, I lived, breathed, and ate sand.


Nearby were a few surfers, teachers and students alike. And as much as I knew my heart wanted to, I couldn’t act as rashly as I’d think. If you remember how poorly planned this Zambales trip is, you might have guessed how poorly funded it is, too. In other words, we had enough for lodging, food, and the commute, and not for a surf instructor fee and board rental.

Also, I didn’t bring a rash guard with me.

That is, until I decided most definitely that we would surf now and worry about lunch later. The universe conspired (like it always does) and turns out that we actually had to wear rash guards as provided by them, for branding purposes! How funny.

So then we surfed at noontime, when almost everyone was headed for the shore to have lunch, and we were left with the beach to ourselves.

And as expected, I had a smashing good time. So much that I exceeded the one-hour session I paid for, but the instructor didn’t seem to care. He was quick to point out, though, that “Nakarami si ma’am a, ganda ng ngiti ni ma’am a!” And I write this not to claim that I’m beautiful and that the surf instructor noticed, but because I really felt wonderful inside, and I didn’t expect that it would be that obvious on the outside.

It was that very moment that I was also told that “stoked” was the word to describe what I was feeling, and I was thankful for the FYI. The surf instructor and his companion also taught me to do the hand sign, too, and at this point, it totally felt right and fitting of the moment.

Take me with you on your next (or most recent) sun-inducing trip by sharing your stories in the comments section! I'd be "stoked" to read them.