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Philippine Dragon Boat Team Paddle Their Way to Victory

By Edwin Allan Diaz

The Philippine Dragon Boat Elite Team awards from different dragon boat competitions in Hong Kong and Macao, China. During the B-Finals (Minor) of the 2023 SJM Macao International Dragon Boat Races, the national team won first place in the 500-meter Open Standard Boat and the 500-meter Women Standard Boat events.


The Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) established the Elite Team from various dragon boat clubs in the Philippines. Over 200 registered clubs signed up for the races, held at the Nam Van Lake Nautical Centre on June 17, 18, and 22. Team Elite also secured podium finishes in the 2023 Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races. They won a silver medal in the Shangri-La International Mixed Grand Championship and a bronze medal in the International Championship from June 24 to 25 at Victoria Harbour.



In a Facebook post, the PDBF said they were not expecting anything in Hong Kong because there were 165 participating teams: "Powerhouse dragon boat crews are also here from Thailand, China, Macao, Australia, Poland, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and other countries, which made this ordeal extra hard, yet exciting and worth it." The national team was also the third runner-up in the International Open Grand Championship and International Women's Championship and the fourth runner-up in the International Women's Grand Championship, International Mixed Championship, and Hong Kong-Macao Trophy.


For PDBF President Atty. Jay Pee Villanueva, Elite delivered more than what was expected of them. The country only joined the Macao-Hong Kong races as a tune-up for the 16th World Dragon Boat Racing Championships in Pattaya, Thailand, with funding coming from their own pockets or solicitations. Most of the teams they competed against will also be present in the Thailand race.


"We had to dip our feet into the waters and expose our new athletes to the kind of competition that we will be facing. Exposure lang pero nag-trophy, nag-medal (For exposure only, but we managed to win a trophy, a medal), so we're very happy with that," Villanueva said.


According to Women's Crew Assistant Team Captain Marjorie Duran, the team prepared for three months, training six times a week with one active rest day. They only trained from 4 am to 8 am, since most of them were civilians and had work after training.


"It's a combination of boat training, running, sprints, land drills, weightlifting. Once a week, pool paddling and swimming. Some members who are from the military train in the afternoon together (in the] swimming pool, paddling, or gym," Duran tells LEAGUE.




The PBDF expresses its gratitude for the overwhelming support of Filipinos in Hong Kong and Macao. "Nakakadagdag lakas ang bawat hiyaw ng mga kababayan nating proud na proud maging Pinoy dahil binibigyang karangalan natin ang bansa (Our countrymen who [were there] were very proud to be Filipino because of the recognition we were giving to our country, [and] their cheers gave us a lot of additional strength)."


The Elite paddlers owe their wins to Ged, ther captains, coaches, managers, and the PDBF staff. "Limitado man ang aming pagkain, inumin at bitamina, [pero] hindi ito naging hadlang para ibuhos ng tropa ang lahat ng makakaya hanggang huli para sa bayan (Our Filipino rowers may have had limited food, drinks, and vitamins, but this did not hinder them from giving their all until the end for the nation)!"


The national team also thanks their families and clubs in the PDBF; the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) for the travel tax exemption; the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and other government agencies for their pledges; the Philippine Consulate General in Macao; and the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Headquarters (AFP GHQ).

"Just super thankful for the support, love, and warmth, especially to all the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in HK and Macao who really cheered for us and some even gave us food. They motivate us to fight more," says Duran.

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