Organiser of the Philippines’ ”Keeping It High” race series and IDF Karera sa Lumban tells us about his passion, purpose and stoke for downhill racing. #VoteKuyaCarl
What’s Christmas in the Philippines like?
A lot of celebrating and eating. We are mostly a Catholic country so a lot of preparations for baby Jesus. There are 9 days before Christmas wherein there is early morning mass and even that has a particular food. Christmas dinner and then, at midnight, we eat again.
How was 2016 for you?
We had our 2nd straight Keeping It High season for Luzon Skateboard Racing. It also included Luzon’s 1st ever World Qualifying (International Downhill Federation) – Karera sa Lumban, 2016.
What is ‘’Keeping It High’’?
It is stoke! Also, the name of a race season we started in Luzon. 2017 will be our 3rd season. The “it” may be interpreted in a lot of forms.
What’s your involvement with skateboarding in Luzon?
This is where I started rolling stoke, my roots and where home is. We started Luzon Skateboard Racing. Each year, we get a minimum of 8 races on different race tracks around Luzon with the help of the local government. Keeping the Luzon stoke HIgh with other side events too slide jams, super races, push races, stand up races and team races.
How did you get started making things happen for the community?
The big island where I am from (Luzon) used to only have 2 or 3 races a year then it went down to 1 or 2 races. We also felt that we needed a safer environment to push downhill skateboarding in Luzon – one that could also widen the demographic and show that safety is first.
What effect does the number of events have on the community?
Since we’ve done about 8 races a year, the number of total racers also increases. One, because of the areas we do it cover the North, East, South and West of Luzon. We see a lot of new riders at each track we have a race in. Some even move to each race track around Luzon with us.
A live downhill skateboarding event always is a big form of promotion of our sport. From those passing by and most especially to the government such as the police, medical/health department who have a better understanding of what are we about and what do we want to establish.
The scenario presented to those learning and, those who want to progress racing is a safe, controlled environment. It also gives those keyboarding too much a place to actually show up.
“We are united by the stoke sharing.”
What are you about?
We are about showing the good stoke that we posses and pushing the safe growth of Luzon. We are united by the stoke sharing.
How important is the government in your stoke sharing ?
They are very important in keeping things safe, since we use national highways and main roads it is a must to coordinate with them. We already had discussions on how the local government would also support local riders in representing the Philippines for races outside the country and programs for skate clinics.
What’s your dream for your scene?
I dream of Downhill Skateboarding being taught in schools or as an alternative form of learning. Although parents of our groms through the years have always inquired if we had summer skate school. I dream about races having live coverage and a huge screen where spectators can follow the race as it happens. I see sponsors collaborating with organizers towards events being part of a national season with the main sponsor being the Philippines Government. The government is a friend of our stoke. Luzon only has an IDF Juniors Champion. I look forward to getting Luzon an IDF Open champion and an IDF Women’s champion in the next 2 years.
“Luzon only has an IDF Junior Champion. I look forward to getting Luzon an IDF Open champion and an IDF Women’s champion in the next 2 years.”
What challenges do you deal with when trying to make things happen?
First season was tough since we did everything on our own, from doing the bales, up to transporting and setting them on the race course. Getting used to having riders who are organisers as well as having 6 divisions all in 1 day. We also smashed the prices of the regular races in Luzon before, offering reg 50% lower than the usual.
The Philippines election was a challenge for the second season. As, newly elected government officials only assumed position in July. We were only allowed to get permits and support from the government 1st week of July but, somehow we still managed to have 8 races from July – December.
You never have outlaws?
Of course we do. Grass is the root buddy!
What have been the highlights of your year?
Being granted the 1st ever World Qualifying has to be up there. We have 3 provincial Governors who have signified they want Downhill Skateboarding to be part of their yearly plans for the next 4 years. The last 5 races of the year had a 14 and under division. Parents are also part of Keeping It High, some of them teach yoga in the morning (Tita Sierra), take rad event photos (The Owen “Tito O” Licop), prepare meals (UNITED Mothers – Tita Sierra and Tita Carie) and make sure the groms don’t get out of hand.
Jaime de Lange finishing 2nd overall Open division in the Asian tour (IDF). Tom Romualdez equalling the highest finish of a Filipino in the Opens division (IDF); 2nd. Sebastian Chanco getting Luzon’s 1st ever Champion finish (IDF): Juniors and all our shotgun groms doing back to back podiums (Veggie high and Karera Sa Lumban). This year, all the female riders that represented the Philippines all came from Luzon (United Goofy Girls).
How did you make that happen?
The IDF World Qualifying came from a push from Abdil Mahdzan (2016 World Champion – Luge). He messaged me on Facebook and said something like “8 races in a year is a lot and you also have 6 divisions. You guys should have an IDF event.” That was probably around January and the IDF calendar already was out. I started communication with the IDF and we got included in the 2016 world tour.
All our races were coordinated with the mayors of the different municipalities/city, during our first season. The 3 provincial Governors all received positive feedback from the mayors regarding our events. We also were supported by the respective tourism departments of cities where the races were held.
This year registration for the 14 and under was free provided they joined either the Juniors or Beginners division. We were having a lot of rad 15 and 16 year olds but, we felt our groms were ready to pass it on to even younger groms. It’s so weird and at the same time wild, that our Shotgun groms now have their younger groms.
With all the government help, do you still need sponsors?
The local skate sponsors are slowly getting used to supporting the number of events. Although foreign sponsors as well as non-skate related sponsors have shown interest in Keeping It High. Getting sponsors places Downhill Skateboarding in a platform or medium that can be used to promote a brand or product. The resources of the government are a big help but to sustain interest and growth expansion what we need corporate sponsors and supporters.
What are you looking forward to, next year?
Keeping It High 2017 race calendar should come out in a few days. In all honesty my mind is on the IDF for 2017 as I am a candidate for the election of the new board.
“My passion is this deep for downhill skateboarding. ”
Why did you put yourself up for election?
My passion is this deep for downhill skateboarding. I also was on a bit of IDF training during Veggie High 2016, observing Colin Beck. Then we hosted the World Qualifying Karera sa Lumban a week after. I volunteered for the IDF after, supposedly being the 2nd IDF representative in races in North America and Europe, but encountered document issues.
The little things like communicating with the race organizers, setting up the timing system for the rest of the world (to make them feel part with live time updates) and talking to different nationalities made me feel like I wanted to fire the stoke even stronger. There also has never been an Asian representative on the IDF board.
“There has never been an Asian representative on the IDF board.”
How do you think your inclusion on the board will keep our stoke high?
There is a huge buzz about skateboarding being recognized by the IOC and, with an Asian country being the next Olympic games host (Japan 2020) it is imperative that someone represents our continent.
“With an Asian country being the next host of the Olympic games (Japan, 2020) it is imperative that someone represents the Asian continent.”
In 2 years, I have executed 22 races with the local government having a minimum of 4 divisions per race. In normal non-organizer language that translates to more or less 70% of your time in a year.
Out of the 13 candidates, only 5 of us aren’t actively racing. Close to 90% of the time of an IDF board member (based on the IDF report) is for being at the actual event. Given that figure and having someone focusing solely on the IDF responsibility on event days is crucial and a game changer in growing our main show which is the IDF races.
How will you find time for the IDF, with all you already have on your plate?
For the 2016 Keeping It High season including Luzon’s 1st IDF race I purposely took the role of observer/advisor. Mainly for purpose of continuity and to keep the Luzon progress on. Certain members of UNITED learned being race directors, getting sponsors and coordinating with the government. I was race director for 1 race this 2016 but, I never missed any of the races. I was there from start to finish.
Also the IDF calendar is out and most likely I will be doing IDF duties for Keeping It High, China Silk Road Challenge and Arirang (South Korea). All in Asia and within the same time zone.
“I believe my commitment to downhill skateboarding and dedication to its growth and safety is well complemented by my corporate background in marketing, advertising and sales.”
Why should the people vote Carl?
For you to be able to set the direction of an organization as wide as the IDF, skills will be a factor in setting the fire. I believe that my commitment to downhill skateboarding and, dedication to its growth and safety is well complemented by my corporate background in marketing, advertising and sales.
The one thing that will keep anyone going no matter what they may encounter is their passion, it is the fuel and where the power is from. I inhale downhill skateboarding and out comes stoke.
“The one thing that will keep anyone going, no matter what they may encounter, is their passion, it is the fuel and where the power is from.”
Where would you like to see skateboarding (in Luzon, Asia and the world), in 4 years?
For Luzon, I see more developments in the role that the government plays. There are already places around the country where a skate park is constructed by the government. Some of the racers racing in our season get support from their Barangay Captain (Head of town) or their mayor. I want to see a lot of new race tracks in Luzon, places like Bataan and Bicol. Most of the races will be attractions during the town’s annual celebration.
I see Asia as being the growth needed by the international scene both for increase in riders and increase in brand exposure. The additional market that the Asian market will generate will keep the brand of Downhill Skateboarding high and at the same time Asia is a good tropical destination for all those in the West wanting a taste of a new culture or just something new.
Skateboarding will be one of the lifesavers of the world. Its use of free energy will awaken people to one of the purposes of skateboarding and, not just its character of being extreme. Skateboarding will also continue to move people in exploring different destinations around the world while chasing the stoke.
Who will you vote for?
I will also vote for myself. #voteforkuyacarl. Based on a bit on their background and their answers on the short questions given by the IDF. And not to forget the representation of each continent. Federico Barboni, Maga McWhinnie, Marco Vidales, Matheus Felicio, Mike Girard, Max Vickers and Zak Maytum.
Who would you choose as president?
Marco Vidales or Mike Girard
Kuya Carl, bro. Thanks for taking the time out to speak with us. All the best!
Thanks Gbemi, keep lighting em up buddy!
“If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed.”
Any last words?
Someone once said: If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.
Thanks to Dave Robertson for allowing me to experience a bit of the IDF and to Colin Beck for showing what it takes and is expected. Thank you to everyone who made the IDF and continue to grow and strengthen it.
Thank you for all those believing that we are living in a world full of stoke. Apologies to the UNITED family for the lack of stoke trips and, thanks for all the efforts you’ve made in shaping us to where we want to be. Stoke and love to all those with us and surrounding us. Keeping It High 2017 – Luzon Skateboard Racing. We are working hard to get the Philippines its IDF World Cup for the 2018 World Tour.
To all active IDF members please do not forget to vote for world peace on Jan 13 – 15 on the IDF website. #voteforkuyacarl
“To all active IDF members please do not forget to vote for world peace on Jan 13 – 15 on the IDF website. #voteforkuyacarl”
Keeping It High – Seaside 2017 IDF Philippines WQS : http://internationaldownhillfederation.org/races/keeping-it-high-2017/
Photos by Owen Licop.
Check out all the candidates for the coming IDF election. Here: IDF Election Candidates