Cebu is preparing for its first-ever Dragon Boat Festival Fiesta 2017. This will be held this April at the Cebu Yacht Club. This event is seen to draw a considerable number of foreign and local participants.
The event is made possible by the Dragon Boat Cebu Central (DBCC) and fully supported by the Cebu provincial government by way of the Cebu Provincial Sports Commission or CPSC. This festival is estimated to attract some 40 local and foreign teams—said to be the most number of participants in Philippine Dragon Boat races held so far.
Gruppo Habagat coach Nonnie Lopez (also a former national team member) said the April 28-30 festival is not an international competition but a mere club crew contest.
The event will introduce some teams coming from outside the country and is said to build Cebu’s potential to become a Dragon Boat racing hub in the Philippines.
“We are praying that the Cebuano community will help us embrace Dragon Boat,” Charly Holganza said, who is among the event organizers and also among the first to introduce the Dragon Boat race here some two years ago.
Two US teams are seen to participate, as well as a team each from Guam and Hong Kong. Some more teams from South Korea, Italy, Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei also shown an interest to participate.
The local teams, on the other hand, will be headed by a team of various “abled” paddlers coming from the PADS Cross Disability Dragon Boat (CDDB) team, which is headed by JP Maunes. PADS is Philippine Accessible Disability Services. The Cebu team is the first CDDB team in the country.
At the same time, the CDDB team is the beneficiary of this event. Lopez said, the proceeds will fund the CDDB or PADS team in Hong Kong.
Event organizers hope that the Dragon Boat Fiesta in April will result to Cebu’s hosting an international Dragon Boat contest particularly world championships.
Holganza revealed how they plan to make this Dragon Boat event become part of Cebu’s annual tourism attraction each second quarter of the year to lure more participants and promote the sport in Cebu.
“Cebu has the potential to be a hub for Dragon Boat and any other sports because of its accessibility. You have the airports and the hotels,” Holganza reasoned, further pointing out how it is unique to Cebu that many of its towns have coastlines.
Lopez, on the other hand, saw how more sporting events in Cebu will help boost the city’s economy. For instance, the 40 teams alone mean 1,000 individuals visiting Cebu, and that’s not including their families and friends. That can translate into revenues for local businesses and tourism.
Hence, CPSC’s support for this event:
“We started giving our support to this in 2015 because economy-wise, it will attract more tourists and there is also the potential of discovering talents,” Executive Director Ramil Abing of CPSC explained.
Lopez confirmed, saying “there is a deep pool of talents waiting to be tapped here in Cebu.”