CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Hundreds of paddlers from all over Mindanao are expected to converge here for the first Motor Ace Kagay-an Dragon Boat Fiesta Race to be held at the Cagayan de Oro River on August 26.
The competition is being organized by Dragon Boat Kagay-an, the company that was also holding daily dragon boat clinics at Duaw Park side of the river for paddling enthusiasts and newbies.
The dragon boat tournament is also one of the city fiesta’s core events for this year.
This year’s competition is also called the 5th Bugsay Mindanao Paddle for Peace Race Series.
The race series has been well attended by teams from all over the Philippines from as far as Manila.
Among the groups that will be competing in Sunday’s race are the Ronin Dragon Boat Team from Bohol; Baku Uno, Iligan City; Base Camp, Davao City; CGY Oro Dragons, Cagayan de Oro; Draco Cancabato, Tacloban City; Bugsay sa Pagpukaw, Davao; Kujaw Tiger Dragons, Cortes, Surigao del Sur; FSUU Blue Dragons, Butuan City; Bugsay Marajao, Surigao City; Suicide Squad of Northern Mindanao, a team from Cagayan de Oro and Iligan; Rapid Riders; and teams from Liceo de Cagayan University and a group of people with disabilities.
“We are expecting at least 300 out of town participants. Race day will be limited to 500 participants for logistics reasons. If there will be more than 500 registrants, we will hold a special qualifying race for the local teams,” Dragon Boat Kagay-an managing partner John Asuncion said.
As of August 23, Asuncion said about 504 participants had already registered.
Asuncion said they are grateful that the city government has added the competition to the annual fiesta’s series of activities adding that it’s high time for ordinary people to be introduced to this water sport.
Asuncion said it is Dragon Boat Kagay-an’s aim to “introduce and develop the sport at the grassroots level where it matters the most.”
Holding the 1st Motor Ace Kagay-an Dragon Boat Fiesta Race and the daily clinics are venues for the people to get acquainted to it and to tap the potential skills of those who are interested in the sport.
“Dragon boat is one of the very few sports Filipinos excel internationally even with its late entry, late development, lacking in support, and ill-equipped team,” he said.
Asuncion added: “Filipinos and paddling are meant for each other. The Philippine team makes up the U40 (under 40) category. We have yet to send a team for the U23 division. It would be a great honor to have a team coming from Cagayan de Oro.”
The group’s dragon boat clinic has so far attracted people from all walks of life, most noticeable are the group of persons with disabilities (PWDs) who practice their paddling skills every Saturday.
“These PWDs have shown their determination and their willingness to learn. They should serve as an example for all of us. If they can do it, there’s no reason that others can’t,” Asuncion said.
For those interested to learn how to paddle, dragon boats are docked at Duaw Park (beside the City Hall complex) everyday.
The regular rate is P50 per person per hour, for students it’s P20 per student per hour, and inclusive of boat rental, use of paddles, life vest, and assistance from seasoned paddlers of CGY Oro Dragons.(davaotoday.com)