Equal prize money for men, women at Surf in the City 2022 in Borongan

BORONGAN CITY – To close the gap in the prize money, the Surf in the City 2022 will award P100,000 to winners in the men's and women’s division.

THE city government of Borongan, headed by Mayor Jose Dayan Agda, kicks off Surf in the City 2022 through the ceremonial breaking of the surfboard on Saturday, Nov. 26. (Marie Tonette Marticio)

Surf in the City chairperson Rupert Ambil announced that more women athletes joined this year’s competition during the opening program on Saturday, Nov. 26.

Ambil said the equal prize money encourages women to further develop in the sport.

"If you can’t explain why the prize money for men is higher than for women, then there’s something fundamentally wrong there. Here in Borongan, we believe in the strength of all genders. It’s a statement from all of us, not only as a surfing community but as representatives of Borongan City, Eastern Samar," Ambil said, citing gender equality and LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) rights are some of the values that Boronganons respect.

Meanwhile, coach John Carby disclosed that the United Philippine Surfing Association (UPSA) will not sanction a competition unless there is a men and women’s division.

The organization which is the governing body of the sport in the country is also trying to include more women in their judging programs.

“We have a minimum standard set for our prize ranges. Borongan has gone beyond that, and also included an initiative to include equal opportunity for men and women. We celebrate, acknowledge, and applaud the initiative Borongan has done that nobody else has done. At this point, we hope other regions see it and increase it and put it into practice,” Carby said.

This city is hosting Surf in the City 2022 for the third time.

It has lured almost 250 surfers from Siargao, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Cebu, Aurora, Sorsogon, Cebu, Catanduanes, Zambales, Camarines Norte, Leyte, Northern Samar, and Eastern Samar.

Mayor Jose Ivan Dayan Agda here said the city plans to institutionalize the event as part of the local government’s bigger goals of raising local surf athlete champions.

“The city government will not just abandon this program. We intend to institutionalize this. Yes, we will come in sponsorship but we will see to it that the spirit of hosting the Surf in the City will not be compromised. That’s the very purpose why we are holding a sports summit next year – because we intend to institutionalize everything,” Agda said.

Lady surfers in the competition said the equal prize money is a welcome development in the sport.

"I am happy and excited because it’s not biased anymore. A surfer’s skills are not based on their gender and it’s good that the prize money now acknowledges this," Jessa Jundarino, a 21-year-old surfer from Borongan, said.

The local government has implemented initiatives to make this city more gender-inclusive. It recently created several gender-sensitive comfort rooms on Baybay Boulevard, where the surfing competition is taking place.

The comfort rooms have four cubicles designated for males, females, gender-neutral, and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).

Beach showers were also constructed for locals and visitors who engage in water and beach sports activities in the area.