This 26-30 April 2013, Bohol will host an international dragon boat competition for the first time. It is a prospect that not only excites the Boholano sports fans, it also offers opportunities for the commercial and cultural communities of Bohol and the Philippines. With more foreign and local tourists projected to visit Bohol for the fiesta season in May, coupled with the delegations expected to cheer for their respective dragon boat teams, the 2013 Bohol International Dragon Boat Invitational figures to be an exciting affair. It could also be the platform for a new level of engagement for Bohol and the Philippines.
To discuss these opportunities, representatives of the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) led by its Sec-Gen, Pinky Castillo; national coach and trainer, Ruperto Sabijon; and Triton Dragon Boat Racing Club Pres, Dr Nick Fontanilla, recently met with the Bohol Provincial Government and representatives of the Bohol community.
In his brief, Dr Fontanilla gave a background of the dragon boat competitions worldwide and emphasized the Philippines’ prestigious standing in the international dragon boat community. He presented the project and highlighted the many benefits Bohol would reap from introducing dragon boat racing in the province. These benefits would include the foreign and local tourism generated, the business opportunities, the sports development aspect, and the positive image created for the province. On top of that, the organizers have pledged to provide a social responsibility project for the province coming from the proceeds of the activity.
Dr Fontanilla presented a timeline that would make the April international affair not just doable, but a smashing success. He envisions that the recruitment of enthusiasts will happen this month. By January, there will be training sessions for trainers and aspiring paddlers, followed by a province-wide competition on March. This initial offering will identify the best paddlers in the province, who will then compete in the April event. This will also serve to break-in the venues, test the officials and technical staff, and create more awareness for the April big event.
For her part, Sec-Gen Castillo provided key insights on the potentials of the sport. This is a sport that Filipinos can excel in. In fact, Philippines has been consistently winning gold medals in numerous prestigious international races, the most recent of which was in Tampa, Florida last April. Here, the Philippine Team won a total of 5 golds out of 6 events it joined, besting the top paddlers of the globe. Our athletes are renowned to be world-class, with other countries anxious to study our technique. Dragon Boat racing is now recognized in 74 countries, and with its growing popularity, it is now being groomed to be a part of the regular Olympic events.
Bohol’s Governor, Edgar Chatto, has promised to support this project. He instructed the Provincial Sports Coordinator, Joel Molina, thru Provincial Administrator Ae Damalerio, to prepare the groundworks for the event. After the meeting, a group of rowing enthusiasts led by Dr Doyet Dumaluan immediately answered the call by organizing the Bohol Paddlers Association (BPA). The BPA will henceforth be working hand-in-hand with the local government, particularly the sports, business and tourism sectors, to organize this rowing festival. The vision of BPA is ambitious, yet achievable. It wants to put Bohol in the global map, by making Bohol a destination for water sports, and developing it to be the Dragon Boat Capital of the Philippines. How this can be done will be the big challenge for the leadership of the BPA.
We enjoin the tourism and sporting communities of Bohol to support this endeavor. We likewise invite everyone to come and see Bohol’s first-ever Dragon Boat competition this April.
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My introduction to the wonderful sport of Dragon Boating!