Local hero: John Mark ‘Marama’ Tokong

Mark Tokong AKA Marama

Born on Siargao Island, the Philippines’ surf capital, Marama started surfing at 6-years-old. He had a good mentor: his uncle Rodolfo ‘Usot’ Alcala, three-time champion in the Siargao International Surfing Cup contest held on the legendary Cloud 9 break.

By the age of 13, Marama was already competing in the Cloud 9 event himself, his daily access to the break paying dividends, as well as winning many junior-level competitions. In 2015, Kermit Surf Resort owners, Gianni and Rose Grifoni, began to sponsor him and got him his first passport.

He has put it to good use since, competing in Taiwan and the Mentawais, and only narrowly losing to Joel Parkinson, former world champion, in Round 4 of the Komune Bali Pro at Keramas. Still it is back home where he has had his biggest payday to date: beating an international field in the 21st  edition of the Siargao Cup, now an event sanctioned jointly by the World Surf League and the Asian Surfing Championships.

Now 20, he works at the Kermit Resort as a surf instructor and, together with Gianni Grifoni, has started a brand made locally and called Gwapitos, Filipino slang for surfers.