TEAM ARMY's Dragon Boat paddlers hone their skills during one of the routine practices held at the Manila Bay. The team has consistently grabbed medals in both local and international races. (Video by Major Harold M Cabunoc)
News story about the Army paddlers' latest adventures in Indonesia.
FORT BONIFACIO, Taguig City – In its first foray abroad, the Army Dragon Boat Team stamped its class in the sport of Dragon Boat by dominating the inter-military dragon boat competition held in Indonesia on July 12-15.
The team bested 15 other teams including Myanmar, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Laos, Taiwan, Burma and Australia. Indonesia is a powerhouse team in Southeast Asia and was the strongest rival of the Philippine team in the 2005 SEA Games.
The Cherifer Premium-powered Philippine Army Dragon Boat Team set a record of three minutes and 36.39 seconds finishing on the lead. Right behind it are two Indonesian teams Marwitim Surabaya and Dolphin Marinir Jakarta at 03:39:73 and 03:40:04, respectively.
Their first campaign abroad was not an easy one. In a coincidence, the team left on a Friday the 13th, which brings 'bad luck' according to superstitious beliefs.
Problems with flight schedule left the team no choice but to compete with only eight paddlers against 10 in the Small Boat Division during the quarterfinals.
Pfc Ramie Llano was one of the first group of paddlers who participated in the undermanned team. He said that they got some help from the Indonesian teams who had spare athletes.
"Since it is allowed under the IDBF rules, we borrowed two athletes from the Indonesian Team to act as our Steersman and Drummer. We paddled with only 8 members and prayed that our strength can compensate for the lack of two paddlers," he said.
They exerted all remaining strengths, struggling to advance to the semis while awaiting for their teammates who were stuck in a place about an hour away by plane.
A few minutes before gun start during their race for the finals the next morning, reinforcements from the rest of the team came in the nick of time, boosting their strength all the more to grab the gold.
Their fighting spirit and winning attitude made the difference, gaining the admiration of their competitors who rendered a standing ovation from the sidelines as they watched their homegrown teams beaten by the first-time visitors.
"They couldn't believe that the Philippine Army can beat the strongest teams composed of soldiers from their armed services. It only means that we are really at par with our neighbors in Dragon Boat sport," said Sgt Usman Anterola, the Boat Captain.
Lt Gen Emmanuel Bautista, the Army Chief, has commended the latest accomplishment of the soldier-athletes.
"The Army paddlers embodied the unrelenting spirit of every Filipino athlete, just as well, of every Filipino soldier. No retreat, no surrender, just pushing forward to finish with laurels. They are truly a source of national pride," said Bautista.
The Army paddlers pose for a souvenir photo after winning a gold medal in the inter-military competition participated by 16 team from the Indonesian Armed Forces. The Indonesian Dragon Boat Team composed of military paddlers was the fiercest rival of the Philippine Dragon Boat national team during the 2005 SEA Games.