We meet another skatergirl from Baler in the Philippines via our postcards from Isabell Kittell:
“Meet one of my good friends here in Baler, Alex, a skatergirl that has great plans on how to empower the skate community in her own way.
Hi, I am Alexandra Giorgetti, 24 years old and Italian-Filipina. I was formerly a preschool teacher in Manila, but currently I am tutoring young kids and do my own preschool classes in Baler due to the pandemic.
What was your experience during the lockdown?
The first few weeks of lockdown were incredibly difficult. For me, being stuck at home in four walls is way more dangerous than being outside in the open world, in nature. You cannot contract the virus outside as easily as being enclosed with people in offices. Inside the house you are stuck within yourself, you can’t move, you can’t breathe fresh air! It is mentally draining, and this has an effect on the physique, there is always a link between the mind and the body.
I can’t speak for everybody but I was going crazy. I am a very active person and I couldn’t contain the stress. It is not a way to live, it is not like you hug somebody while you are surfing or skating, and I think it was not really thought through why some things were not allowed, and some things that were allowed were not really thought through on the other hand.
The first months up to now it was and is very stressful for everybody, people didn’t know how to get money for food. The surf community here in Baler is very dependent on tourists, but now there are extreme travel restrictions in place, so no tourists have been allowed since March. Suddenly, nobody has income, but at least we were able to collect and distribute donations and create food drives for the impacted surfers. You should know, people that come to Baler appreciate and love their surf instructors, and that is what they come back for – not only the waves of the food, but the people. I came back here for them! After all, we are in the Philippines, we have waves everywhere.
What were your plans for the year and how are you adjusting to the new normal?
To be honest, this pandemic luckily was helping me to push through with my plans. I originally planned not to renew my contract with the preschool in Manila and move to Baler. Through the last months, I realized this might be the time to go, since the school stopped it’s classes. Yet, my future plans have been on hold as I can not perform the tutoring and teaching services that I wanted. The situation is very unstable – in mid-August a random Covid-19 case appeared and suddenly we were not able to go out again, and I couldn’t teach the kids. This uncertainty is really hard – once there is a sudden lockdown, you basically lose your job again. It is September already, and it still feels like April.
Surely we have adapted to go through the days without having to feel the time, and we are adjusting as much as we can to our own abilities – otherwise this interview would be a whole different story already, very sad and depressing (laughs) – or not have happened at all. But a lot of people are very strong, very resilient and despite hardship, they are able to look at the better side. Remember, this country suffers constantly from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons but we can still enjoy life.
What was your first skate-meetup like after restrictions eased?
For me, it was just with friends, with Isabell and my housemates, Ian and Warren. We were just back at Lindys, a skate spot back at the North Shore of Baler. I didn’t have the opportunity to skate before during the lockdown-time in depressing Manila, where I stayed with my parents. I only started after I had the chance to return to Baler in July and just being at the river and ocean, doing what we like to do in fresh air, that was amazing. Now, I am grateful to meet new people at those get-togethers. For example meeting the downhill community, I really like their energy, their flow and being welcomed by them.
What do you consider your personal biggest success, and what do you fear?
I feel successful every time I actually get back up after falling, I even consider falling part of success. It is not a good feeling and a lot of people get discouraged from the resulting pain and even don’t try skating because of fear of falling. So every time I fall despite pain inside and out, I feel successful when I keep on going. Like Josh [link to former interview] I don’t like breaking my bones – I always tell my friends I am not a skater, I just LOVE skating. Before, I didn’t really put much time and pain in skating like other skaters, because I am scared and afraid to fall and hurt myself. I try my best to always skate safe, but I am shaping my mindset towards embracing the pain, and it is not so bad after all. The moment I fell during downhill skating I told myself “ I am gonna finish this run no matter what” and lateron I realized how bad the fall was, but I was proud to still be standing! My favourite skating style is freestyle, but I am very curious about trickboarding – I can do an Ollie that high (raises her arm to 30 cms and laughs).
How would you like the skate community to evolve through the pandemic?
Since coming to Baler for almost four years now, I observed that there is a lack of female skaters and surfers. I believe that now is the time to create a small empowering community for girls, to be more comfortable in skating, in falling, making mistakes and learning not to be afraid. A lot of girls are not even aware they can choose skating as a sport, and believe only boys can do it. I want to be here for those who are shy or too scared, or curious, to tell them it is possible, guiding them, telling them they are doing a good job – and for them to have fun.
I know that there are some girl skaters here that would just need a community around, they would profit immensely from the support. I would not exclude boys completely, but create a safe space for girls until they feel comfortable going out in mixed groups. Communities build each other, so this is what I wish to happen in the midst of it all. Having a role model to follow and get interested, that could be a start! Girls can do it too, girls can own it!
Do you have a motivational message for your fellow co-skaters?
I hope everybody has a similar mindset – every time you fall, you skate, in life – get back up, no matter how hard it is. Once you are down, there is nowhere to go than back on your feet. Keep trying, trying is everything!
Thank you Alex for your inspiring interview!“
Author/Images : Isabell Kittell