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PitPit Alipayo captures Philippine top grom title at the 2009 Billabong Grommet Competition in La Union

Under consistent 3-4 foot sets rolling into the Mona Lisa Point in La Union, 16-year old Siargao Island local boy PitPit Alipayo threw together an impressive combination of floaters and backside hacks thus successfully recapturing the Philippine top grom title at the 3rd Annual Billabong Grommet Competition, a surf tournament he won two years ago on its inaugural year.

It was an all-star final as PitPit faced off with cousin Paul John Alipayo, defending champion Jay-R Esquivel of La Union, and Lanuza ace Azur Laudes, assuring the spectators and surf fans an exciting finale. At the end of the day, it was PitPit’s tactical composition of floaters landed with precision connecting into spraying backside cutbacks that won him the distinction of being the country’s finest young surfer.

“I really remembered Head Judge Marco Villareal’s briefing before we paddled out for the final,” says PitPit Alipayo, “he reminded us that the judges were looking at speed, control, power, manoeuvres, and combos. So I knew I had to focus on that, especially the combos! Also, when I found out that the winner would get to go to Occy’s Billabong Grom Comp in Malaysia (January 2010), I was very excited to win, especially cause it’s my last year as a grom!”

All the groms were stoked with the awesome conditions the final day had to offer. “Man, I was really feeling so positive and just this happiness that I can’t explain just being in the water,” exclaims PiPit, “especially when I got that second wave where I nailed the floater in the critical section and landed it just right.” PitPit continues, “ you know, this event Billabong put together is so important for us groms, it’s really a big help for us. It makes us step up! I wanna thank Billabong for giving us this big opportunity every year. I wanna thank my sponsor Aloha boardsports for helping me a lot too.”

It was a tightly fought all goofy-footer final, especially with his cousin Paul John Alipayo drawing loud cheers from the crowd after heaving serious spray with a powerful backside attack. “During the semifinal, the waves seemed better, more glassy, I was able to do more tricks,” reveals Paul John, “but the waves were a little rough during the final. It was windy, and I didn’t make that many attempts. But this was still a great comp, and it’s really cool that Billabong puts this together for us groms!”

The competition had earlier been marred by a flat spell forcing organisers to extend the waiting period a few more days. “The waves just weren’t happening at all,” says Competition Director Luke Landrigan of Billabong Asia’s surf team, “but we weren’t gonna let that stop us. This annual Billabong grom comp is huge for the kids. It’s their one chance every year to show their stuff. So we knew we had to make it happen.” Luke laughs, “most exciting of all, PitPit gets to show Occy his sweet smile in Malaysia.”

“It was definitely worth the extension,” Luke continues, “with solid conditions on the final day, the groms put on an awesome show for all of us. I bet they can even win the men’s open comp,” Luke beams with pride.

“Luke came up with the idea of an annual grom comp for the Philippines, and what a great tradition it’s been, “ says JV Borromeo, Stoked Inc President and Billabong’s partner in the Philippines. “From the very first year, we had all out support from Billabong and Peter Thew (Billabong Asia Brand Manager). Luke’s also been amazing with getting the kids together from Siargao, Lanuza, Baler, La Union, Zambales, and all other parts of the country for this annual showdown. It's a big production, a little crazy at times, but well worth it. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!”

Witnessing the improvement and progression in the young surfers' skills, the future looks bright for Philippine surfing. “The groms really showed a lot of patience and maturity this year with their surfing, especially with the longer waiting period,” says head judge Marco Villareal. “This time we explained clearly how they were to be judged, and exactly what we were looking for. So they showed a lot of technical knowledge and really sick progressive surfing. Above all, we saw some crazy pre-teen kids who attacked this swell with insane tricks. That’s the future and we can't wait to see more of this wicked talent again!”

The 3rd Annual Billabong Grommet Competition is sponsored by: Billabong, Stoked Inc., The Billabong Surf School (La Union), The San Juan Surf Resort, Partas Bus Lines, Lola Nanny’s Surf Resort, The Little Surf Maid, The La Union Surf Club, Fox Clothing, MyPhone Philippines, Loaded Skateboards, Jooshi Surf, Photos by Angel Villanueva, Green Zinc Clean Shores

Champion: PitPit Alipayo
2nd Place: Paul John Alipayo
3rd Place: Jay-R Esquivel
4th Place: Azur Laudes



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