Veteran surfer’s response to Karen Davila’s rant about Siargao

April 5, 2018 - 6:58 PM
A member of the surfing community in Siargao has spoken up about the incident that a broadcast personality ranted about.


  • Angered by the perceived abandonment of her injured son by surfers in Siargao, Karen Davila wrote a lengthy Facebook message.
  • There seems to be another side to Davila’s viral account.

Broadcast personality Karen Davila’s account of a surfing accident her husband and son figured in last week made the rounds online, prompting a veteran surfer to respond to the message that seems to show her community in a bad light.

In the Facebook post, Davila detailed how one of her son David’s surf instructors disappeared and failed to assist after the child was found wounded and bleeding from a surfing incident.

Left: Broadcaster Karen Davila with her son David; Right: David’s injuries following the incident at Siargao. (Karen Davila via Facebook)

Davila in the same post decried not just the perceived indifference by trainers and resort owners, but also the famous tourist spot’s shoddy infrastructure and lack of accessible medical facilities. She questioned why the P1.2-billion government budget allotted to Siargao yielded such poor results.

In response, Elaine Abonal, president of Surfista Travels, a company providing surf lessons and surf camps in Siargao, released a statement answering Davila’s numerous grievances.

Abonal thanked Davila for raising awareness on the underdeveloped infrastructure and lack of health facilities in the area, but countered the broadcaster’s indictment of the popular tourist spot’s supply or lack thereof qualified surf trainers.

Point No. 1: There are qualified trainers

“There ARE certified surf instructors in Siargao island. It is incorrect and unfair to the professional surfers and certified instructors here to have that statement shared on a national and international level,” Abonal said in the statement.

Abonal argued that a number of surfers in Siargao have already been accredited by the International Surfing Association and Academy of Surfing Instructors. The ISA is the international body that governs professional surfing competitions while the ASI is an international professional body of surfing coaches, schools and instructors.

Point No. 2: Public remorse

The veteran surfer also spoke about how one of the instructors who guided Davila’s family, Junrey Taoy, has apologized on Facebook for the incident.

Both Abonal and Taoy in their respective statements defended Jocol Valerio, the instructor who fled the scene after Davila’s son David was injured. Both have pleaded for compassion and understanding for Valerio, who apparently has gone into hiding out of shame and inability to address Davila’s family following the accident.

Abonal also remarked how Davila—whose son David had autism—should have determined how to find the best instructors and trainers for her son.

“Would you choose or hand over your child to a random person if they were taking swimming or scuba diving lessons? No. More so with SURFING,” Abonal said.

Point No. 3: There’s a larger context

Abonal also countered Davila’s account of the lack of urgency among the instructors following her son’s accident. For Abonal, as scratches and minor wounds are common in the sport. As the veteran recounts, locals and tourists in the area alike had reached out in previous serious injuries she had witnessed.

A number of Facebook users have expressed their concurrence with Abonal’s sentiments on Surfista Travels’ Facebook account.

Taoy, on the one hand, has received much sympathy following his public apology on Facebook.

Amicable end

In a touching turn of events yesterday, Davila acknowledged Abonal’s statement, expressing joy for the clarity provided by her fellow parent’s message.