Mindanao Teams Fare Well Despite Odds at Dragon Boat Fest

by: Erwin Mascarinas

From Sunstar, Cagayan de Oro (May 4, 2014)

(Erwin Mascarinas is a writer/photographer based in Butuan City. He is a jolly, outspoken individual who joined the FSUU team from Butuan as they competed in the first-ever Dragon Boat Regatta in Mindanao dubbed the Mayor Rody Duterte and Vice Mayor Pulong Duterte Club Crew Challenge last May 1-3. Erwin is a hopeless romantic who is always rooting for the underdog. Erwin sees a bright future for FSUU as a dragon boat team, and is excited at the prospects of developing the sport in Mindanao. This is his report.)

Three of the four dragon boat teams from Mindanao performed beyond what the organizers and other national teams expected during the Mindanao’s first dragon boat festival dubbed as the ‘Mayor Rody Duterte and Vice-Mayor Pulong Duterte Club Crew Challenge’ at the Davao Baywalk, May 1-4, 2014.

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The FSUU team takes the lead role among the Mindanao-based teams. (Courtesy of dragonboat.ph)

Among the Mindanao teams, Butuan City’s Father Saturnino Urios University (FSUU) Blue Dragons gave the best performance. Gaining its way to the finals in almost all categories and beating several seasoned national teams in the process.

“We gave our best during the training and pushed in on polishing their skills and ability as a team, working as one. We’ve gone a long way since we started back in 2012; and with this experience it will give our paddlers more confidence and determination to compete against veteran national and international teams,” said Fr. Chito Butardo, vice president FSUU and team’s founder.

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FSUU, the pride of Butuan. (Courtesy of dragonboat.ph)

The FSUU Blue Dragons got the overall ranking of 2nd runner up in the men’s open; women’s 3rd runner up and 3rd runner up in the mixed. In specific events the team garnered the bronze in the Men’s 2000 meters; Men’s 400 meters and Women’s 400 meters.

‘Out of school youth’

From Iligan City, team Bakunawa also showed off itself against veteran teams.

“We were just formed last June this year out of curiosity for the sport, we just got inspired watching national teams gaining recognition and awards in the international scene in dragon boat racing. We know we lack experience and we don’t expect to win, for us being here is a culmination of our dream,” said Arjun’a Actub, team captain of Iligan City’s team.

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Team Bakunawa ready to give them a good fight. (Courtesy of dragonboat.ph)

Actub explained that the team came from a small fishing community in Barangay Dalipuga.

“We started with just four people and built our own boat to practice. Now, we, the 26 members, come from the out of school youth sector and others are fishermen,” said Actub.

Iligan’s team, Bakunawa, went on to conquer the third place winning the bronze in the 200m open finals.

‘Wildcard’

But the wildcard in the competition was a team from Davao City that was barely a month old. Team Minokawa expressed its concerns early on the competition for not being able to practice on water.

“We only experienced practicing in a dragon boat last May 1, we are barely more than month old and we just did our practice on land. Our team consists of athlete’s from different fields of sport. Hopefully, this would be our advantage together with our special training,” said Bill Jotham Cacho, team trainor.

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Davao’s first attempt at dragonboating. (Courtesy of dragonboat.ph)

Team Minokawa despite its lack of training in the water pushed the team to the semi-finals in almost all the categories and 4th place in the finals of the open 400 meters.

Team Naga from Lanao del Sur failed to deliver its performance as it left the competition early due to lack of funds for food and accommodation.

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A learning process for Team Naga. (Courtesy of dragonboat.ph)

The Mindanao teams went head to head with the world champion Philippine Army Dragon Boat team, the Philippine Navy national team, Triton, Amateur Paddlers of the Philippines, Boracay Bombshell and Blue Phoenix all of which had competed in several competitions in the Philippines and abroad.

(Photos courtesy of dragonboat.ph)

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