PH Army to compete in Japan Dragon Boat Championships

Ryan Songalia
PH Army to compete in Japan Dragon Boat Championships
The Philippine Army hopes to bring back the gold when they compete against 70 teams from around the world in Osaka, Japan

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Army will be carrying their nation’s flag at the Japan Dragon Boat Championships on Sunday, July 19 at Okawa Lake in Osaka, Japan. 

The 22-men team composed of 20 paddlers, one steersman and one drummer will be the only Philippine squad competing in the men’s 250-meter open standard boat event on Sunday morning against 70 teams from around the world. 

The Philippine Army, composed of former national team paddlers, made a big splash last year at the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) Club Crew World Championships in Italy, winning gold in the 200-meter and 500-meter events.

The team was formed in 2010 after the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and Philippine Sports Committee (PSC) began recognizing the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation (PCKF) as the country’s National Sports Association instead of the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF), which the Army is associated with. 

As they’re not the national team, the Army team relies on sponsorships to finance their campaigns, with Cherifer Premium, Mighty Sports, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, Thunder Tactical Gear and Gameville stepping in to help make this competition a possibility.

Still, the Army paddlers know that once they get to Japan, they will be the Philippine team by default. 

“As soldiers, we have been carrying the flag all the time,” says team manager Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc. 

The Philippine Army team had to find sponsors to make competing in this race possibility. Photo from Philippine Army

Lt. Colonel Cabunoc says the team has been preparing for this race for 3 months, paddling on Manila Bay in the morning before hitting the gym and running in the afternoons.

But the most valuable strength of the team comes from their intangibles, says Cabunoc. 

“For us it’s about teamwork and discipline. It’s quite important because synchronization is one of the most important factors. You cannot achieve synchronization if the paddlers aren’t disciplined in the first place.” 

Inside the boat will be head coach/paddler Staff sergeant Usman Anterola, plus Staff sergeant Romy John Dionio as assistant coach/paddler, Sergeant Reynaldo Baylon as drummer and Master sergeant Franco Tinoco as steersman.  

The paddlers are comprised of SSg Joemar Ocquiana, SSg Salvador Sumagaysay, SSg Ronald Tan, Sgt Elwin Juan, Sgt Jomon Ocquiana, SSg Rodrigo Tanuan Jr, Sgt Romel Anote, Sgt Domingo Bagni, Corporel Pajiri Sahibad, Cpl Sonny Boy Bendebel, Cpl Ramie Llano, Cpl Gerald Dela Cruz, Private First Class Alvin Sabijon, PFC Reyjel Paranaque, Cpl Jose Ijalo, Cpl Gil Martin Gonzales, Cpl Hardy Pabulayan,  Cpl Arnie Cafe, PFC Leomar Mirasol, PFC Cresmark Dayumat and Private Abdil Azziz Sanaani. 

The head of delegation is Col. Leodevic Guinid. – Rappler.com

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