Vince Vazquez: United Squid Stoke

Vince the adventurer recalls tales of the VLT, waterfalls, living & skating in the UK, toeside checks and Chinese safety meetings. Get rad!

Dani Albano photo

Dani Albano photo

Hello Vince, how are you?
I’m pretty good Gbemi! How about you?

Super! How was your weekend?
It was pretty chill. Kind of taking it easy after being on nearly a month long skate trip. It’s really nice to just be home sometimes.

Where did you spend the time?
I went to VLT for the first time and did all 3 legs. I sprained my ankle pretty bad in Oslob though and had to take it easy for a week. I didn’t race Veggie High because my ankle still hurt a lot on race day and just decided to save my strength for the next two IDF races. Yuping Cup and KSL (Karera sa Lumban) were so sick though.

What did you miss about home?
Being able to sleep all day, eat all the food in the fridge and have fast internet.

How long had you been wanting to skate VLT and why didn’t you have the chance before now?
I wanted to go since I started skating 4 years ago and Jaime De Lange just got back from his first year in VLT and he was telling everyone about it. Cebu is a 2 hour flight away from Manila so most of the people who go all the way there were the ones who were racing. I only got into racing about 2 years ago and I was studying in the UK last year and I still had school when it was going on.

owen licop photo

Alfa Hayes photo

What were the happiest moments from this VLT?
Everyday in Siquijor was pretty much just a dream; waking up in paradise everyday and skating with people from around the world. Everyone rents a motorcycle and cruises around and does whatever they feel like. There’re so many things to do on such a small island. Also, it was the only leg where I wasn’t injured.

Like what?
You can swim in springs, waterfalls and beaches. There are places to go diving, cliff jumping and spelunking. I’m sure there’s even more that I don’t know about.

The Philippines is filled with places that never cease to amaze me and Siquijor is the nicest place I’ve ever been to.

As a ‘’local’’, it’s still magical to you?
Definitely, dude. The Philippines is filled with places that never cease to amaze me and Siquijor is the nicest place I’ve ever been to.

Siquijor - Chino Padin photo

Siquijor – Chino Padin photo

If you wake up in a dream, how do you know you’re awake?
Wait till something really bad happens, if you don’t wake up then it’s real and you’re screwed.

Most memorable moments from this adventure?
Falling off a cliff in Oslob and spraining my ankle. Extremely sketchy taxi ride from Chengdu airport to the track (200 km away).

Over 15 man pack runs in Yuping practice day.

All you can eat and drink nights in China.

Missing my flight home from China.

The push race in KSL (Karera sa Lumban) after the race was over.

All the pros singing karaoke after awarding.

Who was the funniest singer?
All I can say is that Max Vickers killed it.

How sketchy was your fall?
I didn’t take anyone out with me but I kooked it up pretty hard. I just slid out and fell off. I was pretty bummed but everyone does something kooky every once in awhile I guess?

abi viloria photo

abi viloria photo

Yup. Yesterday I put my socks on the wrong way round. Blowing it.
There’s a wrong way to wear socks?

Duh! What took you to China?
Me, Jaime and Tommy-boy were supposed to go together but they backed out after I already booked my flight and got my VISA. I have no regrets though. It was an absolute adventure.

Are those your squad?
Yup and the rest of the United homies. We’re pretty much a family.  

What is Yuping?
Yuping is the name of the mountain or town that the race was held on I think? You can never really be too sure about anything in China because you can’t use google to confirm anything.

How developed is the scene out there?
They have a really good scene actually. A couple of local riders qualified in the top 18 and killed it all weekend. The race was also very well organized and a lot bigger than what I expected. The sponsors  evidently contributed a lot into the event and the establishments around seemed to have been happy to support it. There was an endless supply of Capri Sun on the start and finish line. It was great.  I’ll definitely try to come back next year. China is killing it.

China stoke - law hoi ki photo

China stoke – law hoi ki photo

How else is China killing it?
The scenery was amazing, the hotel everyone stayed in was on the top of a mountain. I went on a hike early in the morning on race day and saw a waterfall. There’s so much more I didn’t get to explore.

There’s a panda research center in Chengdu as well that I would’ve loved to go to but I didn’t get the chance because my flight was too early.  

You enjoy pushing?
Not really my thing at all. I was just really stoked and pushing back to the campsite during sunset sounded like a great idea. I’ve thought of doing a long distance push a couple of times though. Just for the sake of adventure.

Who were you most stoked to skate with?
This is a really hard question to give just one answer to… I’m always really stoked on skating with everyone.

Fab Romero photo

Fab Romero photo

But if you had to choose.
Probably Max Ballesteros and Elissa Mah. They went to all 3 races that I attended and we got to do a couple of runs together and hang out a lot. Max Vickers was also really cool.

It was so much fun kicking it with the Hong Kong crew and the Aussies in China though. We had some pretty gnarly pack runs and the safety meetings were extra safe.

How do Chinese safety meetings rate?
It’s legit bro. 10/10.

How did you get into skating?
My older brother bought a dervish around February, 2012 and he let me use it until I could buy my own board. I kept skating and met a bunch of people to skate with. We’re pretty lucky to have hills right outside our houses. Nothing too gnarly but they’re good for trying out whatever you feel like trying without having to worry about hitting any cars.

Once upon a time, everyone had an evo story, or a dervish story. What is today’s story?
In the Philippines, a lot of the kids who really want to skate can’t afford their own gear so they have to make do with whatever they can get.

Owen Licop: Local Race

Owen Licop: Local Race

How do kids from poor communities get into longboarding?
They usually live near a gnarly hill that we’d come to shred every other week. They get stoked watching us, we lend them gear, then give it to them if they’re really dedicated. Since they have a spot right outside their house, they improve pretty quick.

Are there people you skate with who you’d not ordinarily talk to?
Yes but not because I wouldn’t want to talk to them but because I wouldn’t have ever gotten the chance to meet them.

Who were the first people you met?
Kris Bayle, Janus Villalva, Nic Juan, Luis de Luna, Lexus Cabanting, Jaime de Lange and Manu Cordinera. These were the guys who taught me how to slide and go downhill. It’s usually just me and Jaime who skate in our neighbourhood now. I really miss the local sessions but they kind of banned skating here because this grumpy middle aged dude started raging at us each time he’d see us.
I started rolling with the United crew soon after and kept progressing from there.

RA sarinas photo

RA sarinas photo

Did you win him over with your stoke?
He’s pretty impossible to deal with, sadly. On our last encounter he pulled out a golf club and asked me to fight him. He’s pretty immature to say the least.

How did you get on United?
I was only 100% sure that I was part of the team after I graduated from high school and was invited to go on more skate trips. No one really has to do anything to get on the team. Just keep on skating and sharing the stoke and good things will come to you.

“…keep on skating and sharing the stoke and good things will come to you.

Does being ‘’on’’ have any impact on your skating?
It encouraged me to skate faster and take racing a lot more seriously.

United groms - Carl Sambrano

United groms – Carl Sambrano

What have been your favourite trips?
Each skate trip just keeps getting better and better so it’s hard to give a list of favourites but my most memorable was my first skate trip with United to a spot we call Butterscotch. It was way too gnarly for me at that time and I bricked myself really bad. I had a huge wound on my face.

Gnarliest injury you’ve had?
Probably the sprained ankle from Oslob. I never broke any bones or dislocated any joints. Not looking forward to it happening.

What’s your race philosophy?
Lean forward as much as you possibly can and try to tuck turn everything.

How was skating in the UK?
Skating in the UK was really sick. It’s not nearly as competitive as skating here (at least when I was there). It was great to travel around the UK and see the landscapes in the country-side. It was pretty unreal.

Ruben Forester photo

Ruben Forester photo

Where did your travels take you?
Wales and all over England. I got to see the Stonehenge and the Chedar Gorge while on skate trips. I also experienced snow for the first time in Wales.  

Did you visit Europe?
I tried to but I couldn’t get a Visa in time for the races I wanted to join. Bureaucracy sucks.

What are you up to for the rest of the year?
The United Keeping it High race season just started and we have 7 races (I think) before the year ends. I’m also going to college and sell some foot-stops.

Why should people come over for next year’s VLT?
People should come to the Philippines for VLT because it’s an adventure with a whole lot of skateboarding. Also because we’re holding another race in Luzon right after and the track is going to be so gnarly.

ra sarinas picture

ra sarinas picture

What are you riding right now?
I’m riding a Landyachtz Charlie horse with 45/35 Ronin Billets and grey Biggie Hawgs. Topped off with my own custom foot-stop. To be released soon!

Are any of those sponsors?
No… I wish though.

How is your footstop different from those on the market?
Mine are shaped like guns and they grip to your feet really well.

Pew pew. Are there any rad manufacturers of skate dudes over there?
DWLE is definitely the best skate company in the Philippines right now. The products they make are wanted all over the world and they’re 100% locally made.

Judy Clifton photo

Judy Clifton photo

Will North American product always dominate your scene?
North American and other foreign brands have actually been having a harder time selling here because of the increase in local products. Companies like Big H, Equilibrium Boards and DWLE have a really solid market here.

What do you do when you’re not skating?
I’m going back to school soon and I’m currently on the mission to plant trees. I also try to surf from time to time but I haven’t gotten the chance to recently.

Owen Licop photo

Owen Licop photo

Pick 3 numbers between 1 – 30.
6, 18 and 23.

6 – if you could have any super power what would it be?
The power to travel between different dimensions.

18 – Norman Plante asks – If you could choose one person to be your new dad, who would that person be?
Sup, Norm! Probably Kelly Slater. I would be honoured to have someone with that much talent and dedication as an everyday figure in my life.

23 – What is life?
Toe side checks are life.

Brian Banza photo

Brian Banza photo

Toe-side checks are life.

Squid, bro! Thanks a lot for getting down to do this. Had a ton of fun. Will you ever be back?
Thanks you for this opportunity Gbemi! I’d love to be back soon! Hopefully with more stoke filled stories to tell!

Any shout outs?
Shout out to my parents, the United family and to God for keeping me rolling! I’d like to make a shout out to all the homies who skate in Firefly hill. Keep Shredding!!