Tuesday, 17 June 2014

FEATURE: Mambulao dragon boat rowers make the grade, impress Mercedes crowd

The Mambulao dragon boat team in action.  

 The dragon head and the drum beater ... keeping the rythm perfect to the beat.

 The RCP rowing team,

Our boys, posing for posterity after the contest.

 The paddles used by the Mambulao team

Artem Andaya (center) listening to last-minute instructions from the rowing team head.

The banner announcing the two-day contest.

 The boys prepping up for the coming race.


 The crowd.

 More crowd.

 Young fans.

 The dragon head that spearheads the Mambulao team

The boys as they rowed back to the shore.
Members of the RCP women's team. - All pictures courtesy of WENIFREDO MACABUHAY REYES WEST


IT WAS a hastily assembled group of rowers, all inexperienced in competitions such as last week’s Mercedes National Dragonboat Race, except for the fact that the members got the basic skill -- that of making a boat move forward or backward with ease.

But the yellow-shirted Mambulao Dragonboat Team, a ragtag band of 12 experienced boatmen who were put together in a matter of few days to meet the filing deadline for entry applications with the dragon boat race competition committee, impressed a large crowd during Friday and Saturday’s semi-final races as it boated towards an impressive third-slot finish.

Mambulao’s boating team was powered by ten sagwaneros (rowers), spurred by an untiring drumbeater, who kept the rhythm of the rowers perfect down to the beat and a sturdy rudder man, who steered the vessel through the surging waves.

It was awesome to see the guys whipped their 15-foot dragon head-fronted boat ashore, past its more experienced riders as soon as their boat made the return arc for home.

One thing is certain though -- a few more of these gigs around Bicol region and we would see our boys waving hands under the spotlight of newfound fame.

Comments Wenifredo Macabuhay Reyes West, a photography enthusiast and the one who documented the Mambulao team’s stint for the Mambulao local government:

“’Yon nga po ang nakakatawa sa team … kasi, bagito po talaga sila at makikita mo sa teamwork nila at sa kanilang skill … pero naroroon na kaagad ang passion nila para maging mahusay …” (That’s one thing with the team … they were all neophytes as shown by how they synchronized their rhythm but the immediate passion for them to get better was there.)

Artem Andaya, a member of the Sandigang Bayan who is also the tourism chairman, assembled the 12-man gang from Mambulao youths who have loved for boats and sea.

It was part of the LGU’s quest to gain more experience in expanding the Mambulao’s tourism potential, and this included the holding of future dragon boat races right at  Mambulao Bay in future.

And Andaya will be around to prepare the boys by going into a rigid training regime while mastering the technical aspects of the sport, building a race-grade boat and designing appropriate competition uniforms, says Cynthia P Canoy of the LGU’s public affairs unit.

Canoy told MWBuzz the local team is getting 100% support from the Big Boss himself, Mayor Dong Padilla and his government and the Municipal Development Council (MDC), which is closely working with Andaya to develop this sport among local boaters.

What’s surprising is that only Mambulao fielded a team through an invitation from the local government of Mercedes.

And our boys immediately scrambled away with the best in the national dragon boat competitions.

Sponsored and organized by GM Pacific Coast, the Mercedes rowing – which has the national level category -- was the first of its kind held in the province. 

GM Pacific Coast said the contest aimed to showcase the strength, talent and gracefulness of the different rowing teams of the Philippines.

It further said: One of the objectives of this momentous event is to enhance our youth and introduce this sport here in CamNorte, to build new breed of champions tagged as “Kabataan ay Turuan Palawakin ang Kalinangan, Kapaligiran ay Ingatan para sa Magandang Kinabukasan”.

GM Pacific Coast partnered the LGU of Mercedes and the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation, Inc (PDBF).

And no doubt, it certainly showcased to the local and cross-province visitors the municipality’s pristine bay and beach.

It could be the dance of the waves as they languidly rolled across the bay towards the shore that awed the visitors, or may be, it was the crystal waters – home to rich schools of fish -- that made them love Mercedes’ Cayucyucan Beach more.

One day, Mambulao Bay will rise to this level of consciousness among the locals, but if ever it does, only time could tell.

Nevertheless, this kind of competition should become a means for the Mambulao LGU to draw visitors into the beach of Parang, which of late has made a big turn-around to show that all is well along this stretch of sand, making its carpet ever friendly to the bare soles of morning strollers.

Except for the Mambulao Dragon Boat Team, the rest of the competing teams were of the national level category, namely:  Lake Buhi, Lake Buhi Camsur; Bicol River Hot Paddlers; Onslought  (Manila mix); Blue Phoenix (Manila mix); RCP Dragon (Manila mix); and  Dragon Republic (Manila mix).
Anyway, the boat race was dominated on the final day by the seasoned rowers from Lake Buhi, CamSur, who snatched the first place (open small boat 200m final - time: 56.71); RCP Warriors (women cumulative final - time: 2.13.59); and Blue Phoenix (mixed small boat 200m final division - time: 1.02.03). 
Mercedes LGU was correct when it predicted that the people, who would come to see the races, will cheer for the best rowers.

But surely, they would fall in love with the beach and bay as well.

How I wish that one day, our Mambulao Bay and the beach in Parang, would also get there.

And our dragon boat boys would roar like the mythical dragon -- in great triumph and in honor of Mambulao.

Here are the results in three divisions:

See the video of the races:


For comment, email: ahernandez@thenational.com

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