Two years ago, a man named Doug Falter lost his surfboard in Hawaii. “My board was last seen floating in the channel,” he wrote on Facebook. “My favourite surfboard is now likely floating out to sea or washed up on the beaches somewhere. Hoping it gets found!”
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That “somewhere” turned out to be another country, 8000 kilometres away — the Philippines! Below is the extraordinary story of how a surfboard crossed the Pacific Ocean, and bridged the lives of people who never would have met if Doug had not lost his surfboard.
Missing Surfboard Travels 8,000 Kilometres Across the Pacific
In Sarangani, Davao Occidental, elementary school teacher Giovanne Branzuela bought a surfboard from his friend, Norsion Mahaling. Prior to this, Norsion had bought it for PHP 500 from a fellow fisherman named Sally, who found the board, the Manila Bulletin reported.
Giovanne shared that the surfboard was full of shells when it was first found, missing a center fin and wound in a fishnet. Neither him nor Norsion and Sally could recall the exact date that the surfboard washed up in Sarangani, but it was sometime in 2018. Giovanne himself first saw the surfboard in 2019, and was able to buy it in July this year. He had always wanted to learn how to surf, especially since their province occasionally gets good waves.
Upon closer look, Giovanne noticed a man’s name — Lyle Carson — on the surfboard. Thinking that the man may have been a tourist who lost his surfboard while vacationing in Sarangani, he sent a message to Lyle on Facebook, with a picture of the board.
As it turns out, the man wasn’t the owner, but the “shaper” of the surfboard. A shaper is one who creates custom-made surfboards. After looking at Giovanne’s photo, Lyle recognized the surfboard and informed Doug Falter, who had lost the board two years ago in Hawaii.
Doug responded to Lyle, and eventually got in touch with Giovanne. The two men soon became friends, and made plans to meet as soon as the pandemic is over. In the meantime, Doug says that Giovanne may use the board as he learns how to surf.
Notably, Giovanne explained that the surfboard meant a lot to Doug, a photographer from Florida who had moved to Hawaii. It happened to be Doug’s first custom-shaped board, and he had won several surfing competitions in Hawaii using it.
When they finally meet, Giovanne will finally be able to return Doug’s surfboard. In exchange, Doug plans to give Giovanne a beginner’s surfboard and surfing lessons as well!
What’s more, Doug has offered to help raise funds for Giovanne’s school, which needs unused magazines and storybooks for kids. Pretty soon, Doug will be coming to the Philippines — not only to get his surfboard and to provide surfing lessons — but also to meet Giovanne’s students.
Who would’ve thought that a surfboard — one that travelled all the way from Hawaii to the Philippines — would pave the way for a strong friendship, along with the sharing of blessings? Indeed, stories like these help brighten our lives, especially amid these worrying times.