Chapter One


September 4, 2012

In Bayabas, I began to develop the 4 o’clock habit. I turn off the laptop, finish the last drops of cold coffee in my mug, put on an old shirt and pair of shorts, and run to the beach in order to swim. Swimming clears my mind from confusion and my body from too much caffeine and alcohol.

For the past two months, I ignored everything and everyone on the beach: my business was to swim – one lap of breaststroke, one lap of free style, one lap of back stroke, and if the waves are kind, one lap of butterfly.

But today was different. I noticed Dwayne. At that time of course I didn’t know his name, in my logbook I called him Mr. Sad Eyes.


He was wearing a blue shirt with large yellow print and a black and white geometric board shorts. But those are immaterial; what captured my interest were his eyes.

Yes, those were beautiful eyes that reminds you of Keanu Reeves when he was young.  Yet there was something quite fascinating in those eyes – almost a kind of loneliness, or maybe just sadness. I seldom find a young man with such sad eyes.

Dwayne looked like a young man fighting for his life or his love and afraid of losing it. And I don’t know why. But I want to find out.

I stayed longer than usual that afternoon; and all afternoons after that. I was always waiting for Dwayne.


September 12, 2012

The waves were angrier today – too rough for swimming but the skimmers were having a field day. There were six of them playing today. Most of them looked amateurs and often fell flat on the sand. But they were having fun.

Sonrisa Vista – where they were playing – is not the typical skimmers hangout.  I mean, I have been to Tanauan, Leyte which prides itself as the skimboarding capital of the Philippines.  That place is a hoot – the Esplanada brothers lord over the stretch of sand like it’s their kingdom.  There is a growing reggae culture there – music, smoke, weeds, and rum flow abundantly.

In Bayabas, there was no such thing. These guys come out, play the waves, and then go home.

Dwayne, it turned out, lived just nearby.

Because I couldn’t swim, I spent the whole afternoon just watching Dwayne. He played better than the rest, although like the others, he did not do any trick. Just simple wave riding. He saw me and smiled again.

Maybe he is just a friendly dude.

Never mind, I was studying him intently while he was studying the wave. His eyes were very focused – looking for that perfect wave.  The brooding sad eyes were drawn to a close, as if adjusting the lens of a camera to focus on a subject.

Dwayne chooses his waves very meticulously, almost with precision. I think he has an instinct for the right wave, something that great surfers and skimmers have in common – the capacity to predict the precise second when the wave approaches and the precise distance from where he drops his board to meet the break.

Young men like Dwayne are not the typical wave riders – at least compared to the surfers I met throughout the country. He is too clean.

He loves the waves, but what else does he love?


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