Philippine economy

Luke Landrigan, Elaine Abonal: Sharing the waves

Charles Aaron Salazar

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Special kids learn how to surf in a clinic that aims to 'pay it forward'

THAT CERTAIN SMILE. One of the young participants of Luke Landrigan and Elaine Abonal's surfing clinic for special kids in La Union last December 12

MANILA, Philippines – “Surfing is for everyone.”

Professional surfer Luke Landrigan and Surfista Travels owner Elaine Abonal made this statement with their second year of teaching special needs children in a surfing clinic specially-designed for them last December 12 in La Union.

Landrigan and Abonal taught 30 special needs children with the help of instructors from the San Juan Surf School and a few of their friends. Priceless smiles lit up the beach as the children learned to ride the waves.

In Christmas 2011, Landigran and his fellow surfers from the San Juan Surf School decided that they wanted to give back, but didn’t know how. A friend suggested that they teach special needs children to surf, and their program and advocacy began.

That year, they taught 15 children with the help of their teachers as translators and guides.

For Christmas 2012, the number of participating children doubled. High fives and laugher served as the means of communication between the instructors and the children.

“Riding a wave is an opportunity that [the children] will cherish,” Landrigan told Rappler.

Abonal added that most of the children in the clinic are the ones that don’t get to visit beaches often. Hence, being in the clinic is “a special moment for them.” 

When the lessons were done, the instructors shared snacks with the children. Landrigan gave them gifts courtesy of his sponsors and friends.

Landrigan, Abonal and the rest of the team plan to continue the program not only in La Union but in other surfing spots in the Philippines.

“Teaching these kids is the best thing I’ve ever done in surfing,” Landrigan told Rappler. –


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