PWD athletes on a mission

PADS dragonboat team honored to represent PH in IDBF World Nation Championships

By: Mars G. Alison August 21,2019 - 07:41 AM

The Philippine Accessible Disability Services, Inc. (PADS) Dragonboat Racing Team manning the Philippine Paradragon Elite Team are all smiles and pumped up during the opening of the 14th International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) World Nations Championships in Pattaya, Thailand. | Contributed Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines —Pride, honor and being relevant in the society despite their disabilities.

These are the reasons that drive the members of the Philippine Accessible Disability Services, Inc. (PADS) Dragonboat Racing Team as they represent the Philippines in the Paradragon category of the 14th International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) World Nations Championships happening from August 20 to 25, 2019 in Pattaya, Thailand.

The team has been chosen to man the Philippine Paradragon Elite Team and will be competing in the 200-meter, 500-meter and 2,000-meter categories. 

This is the first time that the IDBF World Championships will be holding a Paradragon category. The Paradragon category is for teams manned by Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).

For amputee Rafael Enrique Sanchez, being a pioneering representative of the Philippines is very significant to PADS and the paddlers. It is akin to them becoming able-bodied persons, he said.

“It’s really an honor to represent the Philippines. I think that every person that strives to be a world-class athlete wants to represent their country. Especially now that as PWDs, it makes PWDs an abled person,” said Sanchez.

Janice Aparri, a deaf and mute member of the team, getting to represent the country is proof that even with their disabilities, they can be at par with the rest.  

“It is a proof that we can be made equal in sports and [it is also a chance for us to] show the world that through sports, everyone will have a good opportunity to participate and break barriers and even improve our capacity not as disabled persons but as world-class athletes,” said Aparri through sign language  interpreted by JP Maunes, PADS founder and CEO. 

Team captain Arnold Balais, fondly called by his teammates as “Capt. A,” believes being able to represent the Philippines is the team’s reward for pursuing the sport two years ago.

Balais narrated that what started as a recreation for them to become healthy turned into passion for the sport.

Olympics for dragon boat

“We’re not really full-abled bodied but makita ninyo ang puso sa tagsatagsa namo, waking up at 4 a.m., lisod na siya buhaton, everyday 4 a.m. ka mumata, byahe ka 3 times mag jeep or maghabalhabal. Ano yong reason mo? Ba’t mo ginagawa yon? Ba’t ka bumabangon ng ganon ka aga? Ba’t mo kailangan gawin yon? Ba’t ka magbugsay and then babalik ka sa hapon, gagawin mo ulit? Because of passion,” said Balais.

(We’re not really full-abled bodied but you can see that each one of us has the heart. Waking up at 4 a.m., that is not easy to do, to wake up at 4 a.m. everyday, ride a jeep three times or a motorcyle-for-hire. What is your reason? Why do you do this? Why do you wake up that early? Why would you need to do that? Why would you paddle, then go back in the afternoon and do it all over again? That is because of passion.)

Balais also said that representing the country is very important to all of them because the world championships is like the Olympics for dragon boat.    

Eva Noya, whose foot is deformed, said the opportunity makes her and the rest of her PWD teammates feel important. 

“Karon namo na feel na despite sa amo disability puede pa mi mo represent sa among country. And then maka encourage mi ug more PWDs to go out. Kanang naa juy plano ang Ginoo ba na despite sa among disability, naa pa diay mi gamit,” said Noya.

(It is only now that we felt that despite our disability, we can still represent our country. We can also encourage more PWDs to come out. God really has plans for us, that despite our disabilities, we still have relevance.)  

That is why Noya said she and the rest of the team are very grateful to PADS because they were given a chance to show their relevance despite their disabilities.

“Kung wala sila, wala sad mi karon,” said Noya.

(If there was no PADS, there would be no us right now.) /bmjo

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TAGS: Adaptive Dragonboat Racing Team, Cebu paddlers, Cebu PWD, Dragon Boat, dragonboat, IDBF World Nations Championships, pads, Paradragon, PWD athletes, PWD paddlers, PWDs

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