A three-day surf, music and arts festival was held recently in Nagtabon Beach, Barangay Bacungan to support active sports, the local arts and artists, and the tourism industry in Puerto Princesa City.

“UGNAY Surf, Music and Arts Festival,” which was held on December 27-29, 2018, was organized by the non-profit group Spot Collective that aims to gather people who share the same passion in extreme sports, and music and arts.

Spot Collective is a group of community artists and athletes that works to develop the arts and outdoor sports in Palawan.

Campers and guests of different nationalities joined into one, as they jammed along in the Unplugged: Open Mic night. (Photo courtesy of Sam Lodor)

“Our main advocacy is to support and promote the active sports and local artists in their respective industries in music and arts. Over our four-year experience in Spot Collective, we have been lucky to be visited by different people with different skill sets and experiences. We have a colleague who is a lawyer, meron din (we have a) nurse, meron (we have a) videographer. Basically, they are different yet they both share the passion on the same areas na pino-promote namin (that we promote) which is extreme sports, music and arts,” said Spot Collective founder Manuel Joseph Tan.

The event was comprised of a series of competitions, from surfing and tattooing to frisbee, which primarily advocates the development of local artists and their talents.

Tan said they aim to motivate and encourage the local to hone their skills and build confidence to eventually be able to join competitions outside Palawan.

UGNAY included different expressions of art such as crocheting and yarn bombing courtesy of Sirena Filipina. Yarn bombing involves covering objects or structures.

13-year old surfer “Tatol” Javarez impressing the crowd with his exhibition stunts (Photo courtesy of Sam Lodor)

Art on the Move also featured some paintings and held an on-the-spot session during the event.

UGNAY co-organizer Gia Querubin, the founder of Binhi Organic Market and zero waste advocate, led a beach cleanup activity with Ryan Tan.

She said the idea of including the cleanup drive in Nagtabon is to inculcate discipline and for people to have the initiative to collect trash they see on the beach and to keep theirs.

“I envision people to take the initiative to pick up trash and keep theirs while on the beach. Not only this but to also limit plastic usage lalo na kapag bumibili tayo (especially if we buy). With this act, we aim to catch the attention of everyone to become aware and mindful of their actions,” Querubin said.

Kid surfers preparing for the competition with a 15-minute warm up.

Gina Valdestamon, chairman of Barangay Bacungan, said UGNAY is helping them remove the stigma that Nagtabon is a “deadly beach” due to several drowning incidents in 2018.

“Ang Nagtabon Beach kasi ay madalas na may misconception bilang isang ‘deadly beach’ dahil na din sa mga reports na maraming nalulunod dala ng malakas na hampas ng alon (Nagtabon Beach has been called a ‘deadly beach’ because of reports of drowning due to strong waves),” Valdestamon stated.

She said travel blog reviews have been harsh against Nagtabon, noting its lack of protection for tourists.

With the UGNAY festival, she said Nagtabon Beach can now rise from its bad image and develop to be an adventure tourism spot for surfing enthusiasts.

Photo op with the organizers of UGNAY, along with Puerto Princesa City Tourism head Aileen Cynthia Amurao and Barangay Bacungan Captain Gina Valdestamon

Meanwhile, Aileen Cynthia Amurao, chief of the City Tourism Office (CTO), expressed support to Spot Collective and their future events.

“What I love about Spot [Collective] is its mission na i-promote ang mga Palaweño sa kani-kanilang mga larangan (… to promote Palaweños in their fields of expertise). I can see how they support the locals who are passionate with tattooing, composing original music pieces and sports. Not to mention that their goal to maintain the sustainability of tourism and promotion of a clean environment in Nagtabon Beach ay isang aspeto na talagang susuportahan ng city tourism (… is one of the aspects that the city tourism will support),” she stated.

During the surfing competition, 13-year old local resident Ryan “Tatol” Javarez bested 13 other contestants while 20-year old Dexter Teodoro of Sitio Maranat, Bacungan also topped his event.

Lloyd Sarriego, an El Nido-based tattoo artist at Island Lyfe Tattoo, bagged the overall championship in UGNAY’s 3rd Palawan Tattoo Expo and Competition. He won against 20 other tattoo artists who participated.

Sarriego’s piece won the “Best in Custom Design”.

Puerto Princesa City’s “Supremos” bested the 10 other teams that participated in the UGNAY Ultimate Frisbee Competition that was organized and hosted by Palawan Ultimate, an organization of frisbee enthusiasts.

Joshua Bungay (male) and Intet Talamayan (female) were awarded as the competition’s Most Valuable Player (MVP)

Named to the “Mythical 5” were Jurwin Enilao, Janice Ramos, Xtian Sombilon, Rex Drillon and Von Sanchez.

UGNAY also featured local musicians from all over Palawan during the 7th Mic Check: Unplugged hosted by Little Hideout Productions.

It featured artists such as Nabs the Runt and the Hydroforce Blast, Bugs & Roots Family, Lyka, High Hello, Woopis, and Konektibo among others.