Super Marama

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Written by Imi Garcia | Pictures by Matias Olivieri

His name has been screamed countless times, his photos have been used on posters all over the country, his surfing skills have caught the eye of anyone watching and his humble way of being has conquered our hearts.

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John Mark ‘Marama’ Tokong started surfing at the age of ​just 5-years-old. He used to patiently wait, sometimes for hours at a time, in the Cloud 9 Tower, just for his turn to borrow a board and jump into the water. He would skip meals just to stay in line. Born and raised in Siargao, ‘Marama’ has come along way from being a surf enthusiast to becoming a National Champion.

Over the years, and through hours of tireless practice, he has refined and honed his skills in the water and he is now starting to reap the rewards of his hard work with the 23-year-old recently enjoying his best year to date in terms of surfing - which included becoming the 2018 PSCT Champion.

We recently sat down with ‘Marama’ and his wife, Dannielle​ Hughes, who together, along with their beautiful baby girl Olive, make a formidable team and are determined to conquer their future goals as a team.

Last January, you participated in a Qualifying Series 1000 event in Australia, how was that experience?

It was the first time I competed in Australia and I was very nervous being the first Filipino to compete in a QS there, but it was an incredible experience from which I got to learn a lot by sharing waves with other surfers.

What did you learn in Australia?

I learned to be more competitive, as I noticed surfers who were very nice on the land, changed their mood when they were in the water and became very competitive. I learned to be focused and to concentrate.

In September you traveled to Japan with the Philippine Surfing Team to represent the country at the ISA World Surfing Games. How did that feel?

Japan was a crazy experience. I was next to ​the best surfers in the world, the ones I watch countless times online, world champions. Kelly Slater, Felipe Toledo, Italo Ferreira were right there with us. I observed them all the time: how they prepare, how they warm up...

The generation before you, your cousins and friends, who are now around their 40’s, were the first surfers in the country. You are now carving the Philippine surfing path to another level. How are you facing this challenge?

I learned the technique from my cousin Osot Alcala, the power turns from Carlito Nogalo and the aerials tricks from Piso Alcala. They were my first teachers. Having the opportunity to shape the surf community of my country is an honour and a dream come true. ​Now that I have a daughter it makes me realise the importance of setting a good example for the kids to follow.

Last October you won the “25th International Siargao Surfing Cup” in Cloud 9, a WSL Qualifying Series 1500 Event. You were quite literally unstoppable. You set the highest heat score of the entire competition with a total of 19.05 points out of 20. What did you do?

After last year’s competition where I finished second, I was determined to win and I trained non-stop. I scored those scores during my semifinal against Thomas King from Costa Rica. The waves were pumping and I was just having fun!

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What are your goals heading into 2020?

My goal for next year is to travel to other parts of the world to join more QS events and finish in the top 100 in the QS ranking. This year I only joined two QS events and I am between the top 200. If I am able to join more competitions and be in the Top 100, then I can compete in QS 6,000 up to 10,000 point events. Then if I compete in these higher point competitions, I can hopefully get enough points to join the World Championship Tour.

Is there any kind of specific training or preparation you are doing to help you reach this goal?

We are now preparing together with my ​manager and wife my profile to reach out and let companies know what help is needed to complete this goal. Without financial support, I will not be able to do it.

What would your biggest dream be?

My dream goal is to compete on the WSL Championship Tour.

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With surfing still being such a relatively young sport in the country, all paths have had to be carved out for the first time. The previous generation opened the doorway to bring surfing to a national level, whilst raising the profile of surfing in the Philippines and helping to make it the hugely popular sport it is today, which propelled the industry into creating the first national tour - the PSCT - which was established just three years ago in 2016.

Now is the time for Marama’s generation to open the door to the international stage. In order to continue to progress, it is essential that Filipino surfers are given the opportunity to travel abroad and compete at different surf breaks around the world.

In other countries such as Australia, Morocco, Indonesia and Hawaii, promising young surfers are often scouted by brands at competitions. The brands then help to nurture the talent that originally caught their eye by providing them with the necessary tools and platform to chase their dreams. Unfortunately, at the moment, there is very little opportunity for aspiring young Filipino surfers to receive the same opportunity as the industry is still very much in its infancy and therefore there aren’t really any scouts in place with the same above networks at their disposal.

Marama’s surfing talent speaks for itself and deserves to be shared with the world. At the tender age of just 23-years-old, this young Siargaonon has already accomplished so much, but he wants to achieve so much more, he is committed and determined to make his dreams come true by one day competing on the WSL Championship Tour​ and representing the Philippines.

Marama and his team are currently looking for sponsors who can support his promising career, both nationally and internationally. If you would like to join the journey of this young champion you can email him You can also follow Marama’s journey via his Instagram - @maramatokong


Super Marama

An ija pangayan tagsinggit-singgit na nan kahamok, an ija mga photos naggamit na sa mga posters sa tibuok nasod, an ija abilidad sa surfing nakakuha sa mata sa manan-away sanan an ija mapaubsanon na pamaagi sa pagkasija nakalupig sa ato mga kasingkasing.

Si John Mark ‘Marama’ Tokong nagsugod nan surfing sa edad na 5 anyos. Sa una maghuyat sija, usahay pila pa ka oras, sa Cloud 9 Tower, para laman makabuyos nan board sanan molukso sa tubig. Molaktaw sija nan kaon para laman magpabilin sa linya. Natao sanan tagpadako sa Siargao, si ‘Marama’ lajo na an naabtan gikan sa surf enthusiast nahimo na na National Champion.

Human sa katuigan, sanan human sa pila ka oras na way undang na praktis, napino sanan nabaid na nija an ija abilidad sa tubig sanan sija kuman nagsugod na pag-ani sa mga bunga sa ija malisod na trabaho, gani an 23 anyos bag-o lang nagtagamtam sa ija pinaka marajaw na tuig sa surfing - na apil na an pagkahimo nija na 2018 PSCT Champion.

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Nakig-ingkod kami iban si ‘Marama’ sanan ija asawa, si Dannielle Hughes, sila duha, iban sa ila gwapa na bata na babae si Olive, isa sila ka bagtik na team sanan determinado sila mabuntog na ila mga umaabot na mga tumong isip team.

Sa noagi na Enero, niapil kaw sa Qualifiying series 1000 event sa Australia, kumusta jadto na kasinatian?

Una ko adto na higajon na nakigtigi sa Australia sanan tagkuybaan karajaw ako isip una na Pilipino na makigtigi sa QS didto, pero dili gajod katuohan an kasinatian kay hamok ako nakat-onan pinaagi sa pakig-ambit nan bayud sa iban surfers.

Uman imo nakat-onan sa Australia?

Nakat-on ako na mahimo na mas kompetitibo, sa ako nabantajan sa mga surfers na buotan karajaw sa lupa, nautro ila gawi sa kon jaon na sila sa tubig sanan nahimo na kompetitibo. Nakat-on ako na magpokus sanan magkonsentrar.

Sa Septembre sa imo byahe sa Japan iban an Philippine Surfing Team para mo representar sa nasod sa ISA World Surfing Games. Uman imo pamati jadto?

Grabe gajod na kasinatian an sa Japan. Ako tupad an mga pinaka marajaw na surfers sa kalibotan, an ako mga tan-awon nan dili maihap online, na mga world champions. Sila Kelly Slater, Felipe Toledo, Italo Ferreira jadto didto iban sa amo. Nag-obserbar ako sa ila tibuok higajon: unohon nila pagpreparar, unohon nila pag warm up...

An henerasyon adeser sa imo, imo mga ig-agaw sanan amigo, na kuman nag-edad na nan 40 kapin, sila an una na mga surfers sa nasod. Kuman nagkulit kaw sa agianan nan Philippine surfing sa lain na lebel. Tag-uno mo pag-atubang ini na hagit?

Nakat-on ko sa technique gikan sa ako ig-agaw si Osot Alcala, an mga power turns gikan ni Carlito Nogalo sanan an aerials tricks gikan ni Piso Alcala. Sila an ako una na mga maestro. An oportunidad na maporma an komunidad nan surf sa ako nasod isa ka dungog sanan damgo na natuman. Kuman na jaon nay ako anak babaje nakapaamgo ini sa ako sa importansya nan pagpakita nan marajaw na pananglitan na sundon sa mga kabataan.

Sa noagi na Oktobre nidaog kaw sa “25th International Siargao Surfing Cup” sa Cloud 9, isa ka WSL Qualifying Series 1500 Event. Bagan dili raba gajod kaw mahunong. Na-set nimo na pinaka taas na heat score sa tibuok kompetisyon na may total 19.05 ka puntos gikan sa 20. Uman imo tagbuhat?

Human sa noagi na tuig na kompetisyon na ika duha ako, determinado ako modaog sanan nag-train ako na wayay hunong. Tag-score ko adto na mga score sa ako semifinal kontra ni Thomas King taga Costa Rica. Nagbomba gajod an mga bayud sanan ako nalingaw ra man ako!

Uman imo mga tinguha pasingod sa 2020?

An ako tinguha sa sunod tuig makabyahe sa lain bahin nan kalibotan para moapil pa sa dugang QS events sanan mahuman sa top 100 sa QS ranking. Ini na tuig nakaapil ra ko sa duha ka QS events sanan dapit na sa ako top 200. Kon makaapil pa ako nan dugang kompetisyon jaon na ako sa top 100, hampan maka-compete na ako sa QS 6,000 hangtod 10,000 point events. Dajon kon maka-compete ako sa ini na mga mas taas nan puntos na mga kompetisyon, makakuha tana ako nan igo na puntos para moapil sa World Championship Tour.

Jaon bay klase sa espesipiko na training o preparasyon na imo tagbuhat para makatabang sa imo maabot ini na tinguha?

Nag-andam kami kuman iban sa ako manager sanan asawa sa ako profile para makab-ot sanan pahibay-on an mga kompanya uno na tabang an kinahanglanon para makompleto ini na tinguha. Kon wayay pinansyal na suporta, dili ko gajod ini mahimo.

Uman kaha an imo pinaka dako na damgo?

An ako damgo na tinguha an maka compete sa WSL Championship Tour.

An surfing na bag-o gihapon karajaw na sport sa nasod, an tanan agianan kinahanglan kuliton sa una na higajon. An noagi na henerasyon niabre sa puertahan para madaya an surfing sa nasyonal na lebel, samtang tagpasaka an profile nan surfing sa Pilipinas sanan nagtabangay na mahimo ini na sikat karajaw na sport singod kuman, na amoy nakapatukmod sa industriya sa paghinang nan una na national tour - an PSCT - na tagtukod ra tuyo ka tuig na nolabay sa 2016.

Kuman panahon na sa henerasyon ni Marama na moabre sa puertahan sa internasyonal na entablado. Para mapadajon an asenso, gikinahanglan na an mga Pilipino na surfers mahatagan sa oportunidad na mobyahe gawas sa nasod sanan makigtigi sa lain-lain na surf breaks sa tibuok kalibotan.

Sa iban nasod pareho sa Australia, Morocco, Indonesia sanan Hawaii, an mga may talento na batan-on na mga surfers sagad hanapon sa mga brands diha sa kompetisyon. An mga brands an motabang sa pag-amoma sa talento na nakakuha sa ila panan-aw pinaagi sa paghatag kanila nan kinahanglanon na mga gamit sanan plataporma para gukdon an ila mga pangandoy. Pero makabiro, sa pagkakuman, jaoy gamay karajaw na oportunidad sa may pangandoy na batan-on mga Pilipino na surfers na makakuha sa pareho na oportunidad kay an industriya jaon gihapon sa sinugdanan ugsa wayay gajoy mga scouts nakalugar na may singod mga networks sa ila.

An talento sa surfing ni Marama mobarog sa ija kaugalingon sanan takos na ipaambit sa kalibotan. Sa mahutok na edad na 23 anyos, ini na batan-on Siargaonon lajo na karajaw an naabot, pero gusto pa sija mokab-ot nan dugang, dedikado sija sanan determinado na mahimo an ija mga damgo na tinuod pinaagi sa pagpakigtigi sa WSL Championship Tour sanan pag-representar sa Pilipinas.

Si Marama sanan an ija team naghanap kuman nan sponsors na makasuporta sa ija masaaron na karera, singod sa nasyonal sanan internasyonal. Kon gusto kaw moapil sa panaw nan ini na batan-on na kampeyon pwede kaw mo-email sa ija Pwede sab kaw mo-follow sa panaw ni Marama pinaagi sa ija Instagram - @maramatokong

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