Bohol paddlers promote environmental advocacies, volunteerism
MANDAUE CITY, Cebu — Paddling is more than just a sport for members of the Bohol Paddlers Association, Inc.
According to its president, Dr. Theodore “Doyet” Dumaluan, it is a way of life that teaches them personal development. At the same time, the sport also helps raise awareness on the importance of water in our lives.
“The main goal of this dragon boat is for personal development and [for us} to be developed individuals, [so that] we will be contributing to the community. Dragon boating is also intended for us to be aware of our water environment. So, the only way nga ma aware ta sa atong (that we become aware of our) environment is to be actively present there and not just being present but to enjoy the presence of our environment,” he said.
Their association, he said, also would want to contribute to Bohol province’s economic stability, especially after the hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In order to do this, they are organizing their first national competition in July 2023, which is timed with the Sandugo Festival in Tagbilaran City.
“When they [the paddlers] come here, they will have to spend diri (here). Ilang plete (their fare), especially the organizations. When they come here they have to be billeted to hotels and then they will spend for their own meals, and then our races will be held on a Friday and Saturday and on a Sunday. It will be R and R (a rest and recreation) for them. So they will go around, so they will be spending. They will be helping the economy by spending here in Bohol,” he said.
Dumaluam said that a year after their group was established in 2012 to become the first dragon boat association in the Visayas, they have been organizing local races.
And next year, they are planning to go big by organizing a national race.
“We started with small events locally. And then, we were always aiming for bigger events,” he said.
Dumaluan said they planned to invite a maximum of 20 groups, including some elite teams from Manila and parts of the Visayas and Mindanao to join the competition called “Bohol Island Dragon Boat Festival 2023.”
The competition will be held at the Tagbilaran Strait that separates Tagbilaran City in the mainland from Dauis town.
Dumaluan said the race area would be “perfect” for the competition because it had very calm waters. Bohol province also has several beaches that may be used as alternative venues for the competition.
“What we believe is that Bohol has a very potential race area. As far as race area is concerned, we have the best so far. We have been to other places, even Boracay. Although gwapo ilang beaches didto pero for racing, dili kaayo ingon ana ka as wonderful (the beaches there are good for racing, it is not as wonderful) as our place (here) because we have so many options,” he said.
Racing in Dams
And in the future, Dumaluan said, they wanted to make the race an international event.
They also envision of bringing their races to the different dams in Bohol province.
“With this events sa mga (in our) dams, that would make us also aware of the watersheds so it will become part of the awareness of the group,” he said.
The province of Bohol, according to Dumaluan, has more than six dams.
But before they will be able to bring the races to the dams, they will have to start by teaching locals how to race. This will be in addition to the clinics that they are now conducting for interested college students.
Dumaluan, a doctor by profession, said that before he and the other members of their team would retire from joining dragon boat races, they hoped to share their passion to the young generation and to create new teams from among the locals.
Their association now has close to 100 members and 13 boats for their use.
Dumaluan said that over time, he already had four training boats, five small boats and four large boats made for his team.
These boats that are made of a combination of wood and fiber glass take months to complete and are fabricated at his shop.
Dumaluan is also into the business of making dragon boats.
“Visayas Dragon Boat events started here in Bohol. We opted to make it a very sustainable event. What we did in our group is we made our own boats that is why we are able to sustain. There are locally made dragon boats and the specs are within the required standards for the events,” he said.
And when they are not training for competitions, Dumaluan said, they participate in worthwhile activities like relief operations organized by local governments in their island province, in the event of calamities.
Dumaluan recalled that when a strong earthquake hit Bohol in October 2013, they were tapped to facilitate the transport of relief goods to families that were isolated by the collapse of the Abatan bridge located along Tagbilaran City’s north road.
“The only transport was (a) dragon boat so we provided it to them. Pila ka weeks to nga (It was how many weeks of) commitment until the bridge was restored,” he said.
Their group also helped in rescue operations during the Loboc River bridge collapse in April 2022.
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