Gemma loves skating, especially if it’s down a big mountain – even though she’s scared of heights! She tells us about her recent adventures in New Zealand and in the Philippines and her plans to skate Kozakov and KnK this summer.
Where are you from Gem?
I’m from the land down under. Although I half belong to a land a little higher up known as the Philippines.
Which half of you is Pinoy?
Well. I’m pretty sure I’m not a guy haha. But. My mum is Pinay and she’s pretty rad, she worries a lot but is still really rad.
Where in Oz did you grow up?
Grew up in this little tiny town in NSW called Werris Creek, its kinda near Tamworth. The land of country music. I’m not much of a fan of country music though haha.
Do you have dreadlocks?
No…. but always wanted those really really tiny ass braids.
Are you Dani Whores in disguise?
Haha the complete opposite. Quite the girly girl outside of skating. Sometimes before heading out to the clubs I’ll ticitty tac in my stilettos waiting for a cab haha. Never try it….It’s a little stupid. Definitely have to hang with Dani more though, how could you not with pics like these.
I heard the only Hot Heels you’re interested in requires leathers!
One day man! Praying to the boarding gods, I can make it there. Maybe not this year but next year I’m coming for you baby! WHOOOOOOOO.
What was it like growing up in Werris Creek?
LOTS AND LOTS OF MAINSTREAM SPORTS! It was a lot of fun growing up in the country side. Wake boarding, skiing, donuting at the dam, bonfires, swags, lots of shinanigans. Had some great memories there. Bring on the Beach party and Boxing Day Races and she’ll be all bananas. Country kids creating a loud ruckass. LOVE IT!
Just have to watch out for them kangaroos in the morning and the arvo’s. They’ll dig deep into your pockets ay. Believe that!
They’re solid ay. If you come down under and you hit the North West in NSW… beware of the Roo, they get hypnotized or freaked out when they see headlights.
When did skating find you?
Believe it or not, it was after a biology exam final. Never even heard of longboarding let alone how to go downhill on it. Bagged out skateboarding and how it was for no hopers that drink coffee and well… you get the rest, the standard stereotype.
Don’t judge me…. I was little sheltered in a little country town.
But anyways, Michael English took me to the one and only G5 in Brizzy and I stood on this longboard and probably made it 20 meters down and got speed wobbles, fell off and landed in a massive bindy patch. It was interesting, and a little bloody. BUT THE FEELING BEFORE I FELL WAS UNSPEAKABLY FANTABULOUS AND FREE!!!! From there I was hooked on downhill longboarding, the lifestyle and the forever extending family of awesomeness. 10 months later I did Newtons, 2012.
Who is Mike English?
Some guy from Gympie… hehe joking. He’s part of the Gymps Crew with Myles, Wingers and Langly. He’s a really rad, super intelligent, rad as teacher with a little bit of bush mechanics thrown in there. Super addicted to skateboard stoke! Pretty much my goofy brother from another mother.
Did skateboard destroy your sheltered life?
It shattered it, completely demolished, pulverised it. Now I have a complete new outlook on everything now.
Who is the new Gemma?
Not quite sure ay… still trying to sort that one out.
Can you put into words the feeling before you fell?
It was like Danger, Excitement, Freedom, Anxiety, Fear, Thrill, Killer stoke grins, Confidence and Control had one big heart racing explosion and BAM! My downhill addiction began haha.
What were you riding then?
A strange board with Crails and Abec11 Wheels from Mike. That set up at the time was the bomb diggity but everyone said that Crails sucked so I bought a set of KOOKIES and demolished kats eyes for days! Boss trucks back then, and still now…… but I love my PNL’s.
Is Mike your favourite skater?
Just a brother from another mother!
Who else were you learning from?
Daddow, Yates, Merrick Wildash, Benbro, Maga, Lea, Team Monkypig, Jamie and Pokie, Rat Fink, The Gymp Boys, The Daddow Skateboards Crew, Early Skateboards Crew. The one and only pre active pre drifter hahaha. Pretty much anyone that I could mimic from. We were all skating in one gigantic pack almost every weekend back in the day, stoking off each other. Was killer fun.
Were there any hard lessons?
When you panic and lose confidence is when you really get hurt. Don’t run back on the track after a heavy crash to attempt to scoop up your board at Newtons when riders are shooting through forest elbow. Sorry Maga! I was a little delirious.
Wear your TSG Safety Gear. I have a nasty keloid scar on knee…. constantly opens up on heavy impact wearing kneepads….. JOY!
Were there any lady skaters around?
When I started there was just Lea Robbo, The Penya twins, Beany and Deane, Maga McWhinnie, Ashley Ward from Sydney, The Carey sisters Evie and Astrid in Central Coast, Katie Daniel from Byron and Rat Fink and I from Goldie Brizzie Way.
And now Phoebe, my sister from Birds on Boards has a girls only skate day, much the same as what Lea Robbo does in Sydney. Once a month she swoops the girls under her wing and teaches them everything they need/want to know in case of emergencies and to ride safely. Awesome to see more girls skating and cruising around. Just raising the stoke level.
Why is it important to get more ladies into it?
How could you not want more ladies getting into it? I’m pretty sure the boys won’t be complaining haha.
I feel that girls bring a sense of ballsy grace to the sport, and we like to give guys a run for their money. I guess it’s important because the girl to boy ratio is still relatively small even though the girls population in this sport is increasing very rapidly. Also the fact that it is not as scary as it looks.
I find longboarding to be very free, expressive and extremely fun. It definitely identifies and tests your limits as an individual in a relatively safe environment. I feel that these are all important for growing as a person.
You don’t really have to teach them downhill, it could be as simple as teaching them how to push and footbreak and I bet you they would have a kick ass time getting around town and the stoke would fuel the rest.
What’s the local community like?
Kind of all scattered now unfortunately. But each group is still stoking!
Are there any events?
Yeah there are heaps of events that happen here: skateboard comps, heaps of slide jams and races. At one stage there was one every weekend which was amazing, but I’m usually always working graveyard shifts and sleeping during the day.
Had the Boardacross Series Event by Basement, that was pretty awesome bringing something back into the Auzzie Scene. I was too chicken to conquer it, I have a mondo fear of heights haha.
There was actually one event that I was really bummed about not attending. It was called Push for Parker. A 100km Push Race to raise money for little baby Parker who has down syndrome.
I’m not sure how much money was made but I know heaps of skaters helped out and had a lot of fun. It’s events like this one that really brings out the best in skaters and the skateboard community.
How can you skate down a mountain if you’re scared of heights?
Haha everyone asks that. Completely different feelings. When I look straight down off something, I get the mondo sweaty palms and freeze up, heart races, scenarios start rolling. Skating down a mountain is challenging yourself safely, to a degree, crazy fun and exhilarating, always with amazing scenery.
But I recently did bungee jumping in New Zealand during the N-Tense D-Centz Tour this year. They pulled my name out of a hat and I had no choice. Didn’t want to look like a little wimp. And how often do you get this opportunity?
The scariest most amazing thing I ever did in my life, everything after 40m was unspeakably amazing. Everything before that…. well… its for another time haha. If you ever get a chance to do the N-Tense D-Centz Tour in NZ, DO IT!
It really is a major stoke factor and Speedy and the NZ Crew are amazing. I’m coming for ya next year Speedy!
Who puts on the events?
Skate Shops like SK8ER, Extreme Skates, SkateBiz in Brizzy, Basement in Sydney. Grommatrons sometimes, Animal House Reference, English puts up a racing series throughout the year, Team Monkypig are always up for holding a kick ass skate events, Mr Wildash and C-Ferg hold a few here and there.
Recently Phoebe’s been out of action awaiting knee surgery but she’s been keeping herself occupied boosting her activity in the local Brizzy skate community with events, Birds on Boards merchandise, and making furniture.
What’s your local skate shop?
The closest skate shop to me is Goodtime in the Gabba and SkateBiz on Brizzy CBD. I go in there when I can, but as of late my local has been SK8ER out the back of Brizzy on the North Side. And there’s also Extreme Skates near University of Queensland. They each bring a different vibe to the skating scene which is pretty rad for a small laid back city.
How important is a good shop to the community?
Pretty damm important I would say. I think they should definitely be a source of stoke in the community and be a social hub for skaters. Shops should have knowledgeable staff, with a kick ass open mind with new ideas for and from skaters and the community. They influence the vibe of the skate scene based on the culture they encourage in the store.
I’m a big believer in shops supporting local. If they support local, they’re building the hype. They look after their skaters, creating and supporting events, supporting local businesses and organisations within their community. They have potential for creating strong relationships within the community and I believe that this goes a very long way in this industry. Keeping in mind the push pull concept.
When did you first get to compete?
5 months after I started skating, I had my first race in Lennox Heads near Byron Bay. That was hosted by the Early Skateboard Crew! It was a rad event, Rat Fink and I had a ball with the girls down there!! Started in a driveway that acted like a kicker followed by a nice sweeping left then down a steep right and tricky coldersack to get around before the finish line.
1st place…. Woohoo!
Congrats! You beat all the boys?
In women! Not sure how I went in the boys, it was so long ago.
Is the competition tight in womens there?
The competition is tight and fun but there is one little problem. We live very far from each other. You have Tash in Perth WA, Maga and Ashley in Sydney, The Carey Sisters in Central Coast, Jenna Russo in Adelaide I think, Phoebe, Aki and I in Brizzy. Very rarely do you see us competing together.
Now with no Newtons, when will you get an excuse to skate together?
We’ve been trying to organise a girls roadtrip riding the hills of the outback but so far no luck because of other commitments. ONE DAY LADIES IT’S GOING TO HAPPEN!!! When the stars align and everyone is free.
What other events did you do in 2012?
Philippines for Havens Gate event in Tunay. Made it to the top 30 bracket in Opens from 90 riders.
Newtons Nations placed 3rd
Noosa Hillclimb Individual and Teams races
MIDNIGHT MADNESS!!! Now that’s a really fun event.
Was that your first time skating in your other home?
Yeah first time ever!! Any skater that hasn’t been to the Philippines is really missing out.
Woah. Nice one! Was it hard to beat all the boys?
YES!!! Filipinos have the strongest push’s ever!! They shred so hard and are so fast!!! I gave them a good run.
Are you close to the skaters out there?
Mike my sponsor from My Life on Board, Manila Crew, The whole GN Crew in Cebu. I could name you all but it would take up the whole page. Epos, Dandoy, Paulo, Ering, Brian, Ryan, Jean, Pedro, Pantoy, Uka, Sensei Maci, Mic Mic, Emay, Shan, Mamma EJ, Kat, Kara, Emjay and so many others.
I got you guys close to my heart always, even on my leathers. <3 <3 <3
Forever a part of my family, Much Love.
What is MLOB?
It started as a blog for Mike just documenting his adventures around the Philippines, then it turned into a blog for all of the events that were happening in the world of board sports that he was involved in. Its pretty amazing how much the website has grown since then, with expanding ambassadors with one from Australia….no names haha.
Really proud to be a part of MLOB, Cheers Mike, Much Love.
What’s your favourite thing to do on your board?
Going really really fast with nice tight sweepy corners getting pitted. I really enjoy skidding corners but sometimes I’m not that consistent and I just laugh it off, or sometimes get frustrated. More so just laugh while doing a michael jackson slide on my kneepads lol.
How was last year for you?
Last year I felt like I was stuck in a fishing net I guess you could say. I was studying Fine Arts full time during the day, working night shift kinda full time, and when I wasn’t doing that I was dancing and skateboarding. My cup was overflowing like crazy and I made only minor progress in all of these disciplines. Then I got really down, getting sick all the time and overworking my body. Never helped that I was so stubborn either, thinking I was invincible.
What were you riding?
Daddow 120-Y, PNL Trucks, Venom Bushings, 2 fluoro yellow on the back truck and fluoro yellow and Flouro orange road side on the front, Bones Red Bearings, Abec11 Wheels, TSG everything.
Are any of those your sponsors?
Yeah, Daddow Skateboards, TSG Supersports in Australia, Abec11 Wheels from Go4Sports. I’m hoping one day they could pass me on to the big boys at Abec11 and want to spono me if they see me worthy.
I’m kinda really shy to ask people for spono even if I really want it, only because I don’t want to sound like a grommet.
Is it hard for women down there to get support?
Yes and No. If you advocate yourself well with hella stoke, turn up to events, perform well, hold events, word generally travels along the grape vine and then if the stars align then wohooooooo!!!! On top of the world!
Do you love it more than skating?
Dancing has become more of a hobby or sense of relief for me. It’s good to break it up and not be skating all the time. Its so funny cuz I know my friends teach hard classes and I’m very much out of practice now from concentrating on skating. But I enjoy the challenge haha. It swings with my mood but my goal for this year is to grow as a skater.
Just waiting on Jean De La Cruz to fit me into his schedule to create a short dance piece for a skate video… Call me.
Are you living differently so far this year?
Definitely, I moved out of the Skate House in Brizzy into an apartment with my Bestie Dani, Found the happy medium between working at The Junction Hotel in Annerely, Study, Skating, Dance. Giving myself time to relax a little more. I have more time to spend with close friends and family.
This year, I’m on a cleanse, out with the bad and not so important and in with the AWESOMENESS!! I gave myself realistic goals this year, decluttered my life…..mainly my room haha, just living simple.
If you took everything out, what would be the last thing?
Hmm I guess it would be my skateboards. Gotta love the multi-purpose longboards haha.
What took you to NZ?
Tasha guided me to NZ. She was planning to go and said I should jump on board. Then she hurt her ankle and we were both bummed out she couldn’t make it. But I went by myself and met up with Callum at the airport and then with the N-Tense D-Centz Crew. Was Quite the experience.
Who is Tasha?
Tasha Graham is really something else and she is definitely up there with the big boys. That gurl has fire and drive in her eyes everytime she steps on a skateboard for a race. She’s hungry to kick ass in the euro circuit this year so keep an eye out for her.
And she’s a hella rad chick to chill and stoke with, rarely backs down from a challenge haha.
Similar to Oz at all?
Kinda… Green fields everywhere with sheep of course. Its really laid back and an organic place outside the major cities. Australia is more of a dry climate. Love the hills in NZ!!!
How was the VLT?
VLT is life changing, it really is. VLT for me, fuels the fire and stoke of skateboarding while stripping you down to simplicities in life and simple living. Appreciating everything and everyone around you for what it is, nothing more and nothing less. Plus VLT likes to challenge you, shove you around a little, just to keep you on your toes haha.
The hills, waterfalls, food and MANGOS, sleeping in Driftwood Hammocks for 2 weeks is really something special. I didn’t want to leave the Philippines even more than last time after this trip. Dumanjug in the rain is actually a lot of fun!
How did you do in the races?
1st in Traditional Race Womens
3rd in IDF Dumanjug Womens
I’m not quite sure of my ranking in Opens though.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I registered for BTB in Australia, KNK, and Kozokov….maybe Almatrib….not sure. Not sure how I’m going to get there and to each events but it’s gonna happen haha.
And I want to go back to the Philippines ASAP after tour.
4gs in 90 days…. challenge accepted!
DUDE! Welcome to Europe. Who are you coming with?
Tasha I think, maybe with Maga and Rob if there is room and then meeting up with Emmanuel along the way somehow. It’s all up in the air haha, really need to sort that one out soon, time is FLYING!
What do you do when you’re not skating?
Generally hanging out at my local coffee shop Jacu on the interwebs, out with friends and family, being a goof ball at work, going for nature walks, going to beach, swimming in general, surfing sometimes, shopping, going out clubbing dancing up a storm no matter how ridiculous, dancing in general, getting artistic haha. Just an all around big kid.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-20!
1, 16, 20
1 – If you had to be a bad guy in a movie, who would you be?
Jareth out of Labyrinth….really love that movie haha.
16 – Tommy Watson – Who would be in your dream race heat?
Stephen Daddow, Darryle Freeman, Brianne Davies, Dasha as a super fun chill stoke race heat.
20 – Lyndsay McLaren asks – what is your dream skate destination
Not sure yet. Somewhere Tropical. Always wanted to hit Hawaii or somewhere in Asia. Ayumi I really want to visit you!!!!
Ok I got it, JAPAN! Or somewhere near there haha.
It’s been really fun hearing your story sis. Thanks for sharing. Maybe see you on our shores this summer!
haha no worries dude 😀 You’re the man! Thanks for everything and you bet I’ll see u this summer with a gift from the land down under.
Any last words?
HUGE SHOUT OUT TO MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE PHILIPPINES!!! Much Love!
Shout out to Daddow Skateboards, TSG Supersorts, ABEC11 Go4Sports, Team Monkypig, Heelside Magazine, Driftwood, GN Crew, THE JUNCTION in Annerely for all the support so far this year. Really Really means so much to me.
TSG Supersorts, Rodney and Bec are absolute champions, blessed to be a part of your team.
Dubes, Love Timeship. One day I’ll be good enough to rep you. Timeship fits my small asian hands perfectly haha.
Looking forward to seeing the new line!
Douglas Owens I’m in love with PNL, muy magnifique!
So its currently 4:30am…. haha I have work in a few hours so I got to get some shut eye.
Night Night all xxx