There will be birth pains, there will be heartaches. There will be problems brought about by the sheer boldness of programs never before undertaken. We will be distracted, and even derailed at times. But we will not be disheartened. We will remain unfazed by the challenges that lie ahead. And we will test the waters all the more. Damn the torpedoes, the hell with the naysayers. It is ‘full speed ahead’ for this intrepid group whose only motivation is to help the province of Bohol! Ladies and gentlemen, we are a ‘go’.
Last December, a team from the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) traveled to Bohol to look at the prospect of staging an international dragon boat competition in the island. Seeing the great potential of the island as a water sport and tourism haven, the PDBF immediately shopped around for a responsible partner who could take up the cudgels for the province. Enter: the Tapok Tapok Bol-anon Inc (TAPOK).
The PDBF and TAPOK have two different, yet complimentary motivations. PDBF’s advocacy is to propagate the sport of Dragon-Boating. TAPOK, on the other hand, simply wants to help Bohol develop in whatever way it could. For a decade, TAPOK had focused on supporting the education sector with computers, welding machines, sewing machines, and the like for students in far-flung barangays of Bohol. TAPOK had also been helping the health sector, assisting in the planning and conduct of medical missions. In fact, another Aloha Medical Mission from Hawaii is coming to Talibon, Bohol this March.
With a new approach in dragon-boating however, TAPOK saw a fresh new medium and a new dimension opened for youth and sports development. There was also the opportunity to further enhance the tourism industry in Bohol. Thus, the meeting of minds paved the way to the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between the PDBF and TAPOK for the conduct of the 2nd Cobra -PDBF International Dragon Boat Club Crew Competition in Bohol this April 26-30.
Then it was off to work. TAPOK started by setting up the Organizing Committee. Retired MGen Charly HOLGANZA, TAPOK’s president, was designated Organizing Committee Chairman. We found a perfect champion in the provincial head himself, Gov Edgar CHATTO, who instructed his Provincial Administrator, Ayi DAMALERIO, as well as the Tourism and Sports Council Chairs: Atty Doy NUNAG and Joel MOLINA, to support the project. Next to sign up were Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio EVASCO Jr, who volunteered his dragon boats for the training that followed; and Dauis Mayor Jimmy JIMENEZ, who promised 100% support for his town’s selection as the site of the maiden offering of this event.
Other people joined in to lend a hand. Manila-based events specialist, Geraldine JUACHON, came in to put order to the overall plans. DOT Region 7 head, Dir Weng MONTECILLO, provided Tourism expertise and support. The Bohol Federation of Travel and Tour Operators (BOFeTTO) under Nonet Bolo came in to take charge of Accommodations and Transportation. The Bohol Paddlers Association (BPA) was organized with Dr Doyet Dumaluan as President. They took charge of Training and Competition. Ghen LUMAYAG and Bay MAGALLANES took over the reins as the Secretariat in Tagbilaran, while Manila-based Edna BALLESTEROS and Josie TORRALBA manned the coffers at Finance. Finally, a local events unit, the K & N Productions with Gibyrlu LUMAYAG at the helm, took on the gargantuan task of organizing the many sub-activities in the whole event.
TAPOK then enlisted the help of popular national player and coach, Annabelle TARIO. Her marching order: to train and develop competitive teams from different municipalities and organizations of Bohol. Coach Annabs, as she is fondly called, will soon be finishing her 1-month stint in Bohol, but she has developed a wonderful relationship with her students who, in turn, have been clamoring for her to extend her stay. Her one complaint: there has been no let-up in invitations to eat and see the sights and eat and eat again.
The training episodes have been difficult, yet full of fun and laughter. Early morning joggers at the Garcia Athletic Complex had a field day joining the ground training exercises. After that, the actual boat sessions in Tagbilaran Strait gathered scores of curious onlookers. Indeed, people have started to take notice of this novelty. And Bohol is perking up to the proverbial sound of the dragon boat drums.
But everything hasn’t really been a bed of roses either. As will always be the case, first-time jitters have brought forth many apprehensions. The constraints ahead seemed daunting. The short mobilization time. The facilities, the infrastructure. The coming election.
And emotions have at times been tried. Communications have gone haywire; some tasks left undone. But these episodes have been a great collective learning experience for everyone. And hopefully, everyone will imbibe and learn the lessons from dragon-boating. That of teamwork and synchronization. That of looking at a common goal, and of shelving personal interests for the common good. That of enduring partnerships where each one looks after the other.
Training ends soon. We have barely two months to go. This March, there will be a simple dry run for the April main event. We shall see here if Coach Annabs has been able to mold the teams into competitive dragons. Or if the trainees were around simply for the picnic.
We will soldier on despite the challenges. For we have nothing but the best of intentions for Bohol. It is said that the most difficult tasks and the greatest of tests will bring forth the character of men. And it is precisely these hardship cases which – when finally hurdled – will provide us the sweetest of memories. Ladies and gentlemen, PADDLES UP!!!