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Paolo Soler: Shaping the surfing scene

Surfer and Philippine Surfing Academy president Paolo Soler can definitely ride waves – and now he’s making them, too.

Surfer and Philippine Surfing Academy president Paolo Soler can definitely ride waves – and now he’s making them, too. He shares stories on his newest endeavors – surfboard brand Skwala and surf camp resort Liwalize It – that are making the local surfing scene more exciting than ever.

Philippine Surfing Academy president Paolo Soler. (Photo by Mike Alegado)
Philippine Surfing Academy president Paolo Soler. (Photo by Mike Alegado)

What destinations do you and your students usually visit for surfing lessons?

We teach in surfing destinations close to Manila particularly in Real, Quezon and Liwliwa in Zambales. Our most popular facility is at Club Manila East in Taytay where we use a wave pool for surfing lessons. Students enroll in our surf kit, which is a 6-day training program, and then we take them to the beach to graduate.

What inspired you to create your own brand of surf boards?

A few years ago, we decided to utilize the talents of some of the surfers from Lanuza and Cantilan in Surigao del Sur. They used to work for an Australian company that made bamboo surf boards and when the Australian owner left the country, I decided to hire them and start my own surfboard brand called Skwala. We make hand-shaped custom surfboards in our shop in Taytay that’s very near the wave pool. I’m very proud of this brand because of the craftsmanship of my shapers.

One of Skwala's surfboards made with tie-dyed fabric designed by Luisa Jimenez of clothing brand World of Patterns (Photo by Mike Alegado)
One of Skwala’s surfboards made with tie-dyed fabric designed by Luisa Jimenez of clothing brand World of Patterns (Photo by Mike Alegado)

And you and your team being surfers are a definite advantage.

Surfing is a personal activity and lifestyle that demands personal equipment made exclusively for the surfer by a shaper who truly lives, embraces and understands what surfing is all about. It’s also good to be a surf coach so you can help an aspiring surfer choose the kind of board that’s right for them.

Why the name ‘Skwala’?

Skwala is a slang word from the ‘80’s that refers to power sliding or car drifting, which in a way can also be applicable to surfing. It’s also refers to a carpenter’s tool, a right-angle ruler.

How did you end up opening a surf camp resort in Liwliwa?

Another hobby that I have is poi. I love flow arts and I’ve been doing that for a really long time. One of my best friends, Paulino Servado, pursued it and turned it into a full-blown academy and founded the Philippine Flow Fest. I’ve been surfing in Liwliwa for a long time and it’s just so cool that everything fell into place here. I was in Liwliwa with a bunch of friends for the Flow Fest last year and we found this land and decided to buy it. Half of my life is now here in Liwliwa.

What’s the story behind the surf camp’s name?

We decided to call it ‘Liwalize It’ based on the popular hashtag ‘liwalized’, which refers to the experience you get when you come to Liwa.  With the energy that’s unique to Liwa, we thought of making this area a lifestyle space and develop the surf culture here. We’re planning to have packaged camping weekends and organize events that revolve around the flow arts.

Is there a similarity between flow arts and surfing?

Surfing is kind of like flow arts. Every wave is different and your movements will be dictated by the form of the wave in front of you, which gets you into that state of hyperfocus.

Find Skwala on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Skwalasurfindustries) and Instagram (@skwalasurfboards). Liwalize It Surf Camp is located at Sitio Liwliwa, San Felipe, Zambales. Follow Liwalize It (@liwalizeit) on Instagram.