Name PAOLO SOLER
Occupation President of the Philippine Surfing Academy; owner of Skwala Surfboards
How he makes a difference Bringing the waves to Manila and giving city slickers a chance to get stoked
IF somebody said he was a graduate of the University of Asia and the Pacific with a degree in Entrepreneurial Management, you’d probably picture a clean-shaven guy in a suit, walking with enough swagger to impress Gordon Gekko. But Paolo Soler wasn’t out to impress anybody after he had a taste of ultimate freedom — in the form of a 6’3” shortboard.
“I’ve been passionate about surfing since I first tried it,” says Soler. “And I’ve always been trying to find a way to make a living out of it.” His college education did come in handy as he conducted studies to help create a surfing-related job. In the beginning, his passion was running high. But after hitting a dead end, Soler felt like he was entering a wash cycle. “I never came up with a feasible business because there was absolutely no surfing industry in the Philippines back then,” he recalls.
In 2004, Soler went to Bali for surfing and got more than what he came for. “I realized that as long as you have good waves in your country, the surfing industry is bound to grow into something big,” he explains, seeing in Kuta Beach that the number one industry was the surfing schools.
Fast-forward to 2008 and Soler shares another chance encounter with fate: “We found a wave pool in Taytay, at Club Manila East. And I was [just] looking for a company outing venue.” He saw the wave pool as an opportunity to train people how to surf. “The waves turned out to be perfect. It had the ideal conditions that you’d want to have in the ocean when you’re teaching students.”
So he sealed the deal with Club Manila East and acquired teaching accreditation from the Academy of Surfing Instructors in Australia. Several additional venues and 7,000 students later, the Philippine Surfing Academy (www.philippinesurfingacademy.com) has captured the wave of Manileño who’ve always wanted to hang loose and enjoy a surfing high. “Next to the stoke of surfing, teaching people how to surf the proper and safe way is one of the best rewards I have with my job,” says Soler.