Dictionaries define the phrase “on cloud nine” as being very happy. And this is our holy grail, our endless search for cloud nine. This search became a little bit literal for a countryside girl based in Stockholm, Sweden as she found her heaven in the world-famous barreling waves of “Cloud 9,” the gem of Siargao Island right here in the Philippines.
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In an article by Patrik Enlund through the site ettannatliv.se, Sanne Sevig narrates how she packed up her bags, left Sweden at 25, moved to Manila, traveled the Philippines, and ended up in a tear-drop shaped island in the province of Surigao del Norte.
”I had too many things going on at once and was never satisfied”, Sanne says in the interview. At the time, she was studying neuroscience and positive psychology at the University of Skövde, managing a clothing company in Stockholm, and lecturing all over Sweden—all at the same time. This stress-filled life started taking a toll on her health and she showed signs of fatigue.
”I fainted in my car and drove off the road. Luckily, I suffered no physical injuries as a result of my accident. The day after, I quit my job and wrote on Facebook that I had decided to move abroad, and wondered if someone had something they could recommend. I got two answers. One was from a girl I was backpacking with several years earlier. She wrote that she had moved to Manila, and that I could stay with her for free. Four weeks later, I landed in Manila.” This happened in January 2012.
In the capital, Sanne worked at a travel company where she connected major hotel chains and dealerships in Sweden. The multitasker found herself regressing to her old patterns and leading an unhealthy lifestyle.
Like that breaking point in her car which led her to the big move, another incident happened in Manila forcing her to move again. The travel company closed down, she packed her bags once again, and explored the Philippines’ many islands for two months. Through a recommendation from an old classmate, she ended up in Siargao.
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”When I came here, I was riding in a car from the airport, and had my nose pressed against the window and thought oh well, now I’ve found my home. I had not even had a single day on the job.”
In the island, she worked for six months in a resort—a very different life from what she had in Sweden and Manila. She later became involved in a hostel-building project and eventually became involved with the owner himself, Joseph “Cocoy” Davis. They now both run Paglaom Hostel, an accommodation fit for budget travelers and surfers who just want a clean and cozy place to stay with the lowest rates.
Still adept to multitasking, Sanne manages the hostel, takes yoga classes, and runs a charity organization called “Nature Kids of Siargao.” The non-profit organization has two purposes, to educate and involve kids in how to take care of the local environment and to donate food/clothes to kids in need. She volunteers in an orphanage in the island and attends to the kids thrice a week.
”Happiness for me is to feel, which I’m able to do here, and to have the courage to express what I feel. It’s not quite the same thing. For me it’s two completely different things. Happiness consists of doing things that I want to do.”
This is happiness for Sanne or “sunny” as how she pronounces it: a beaming sun in Cloud 9.