MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Army earned another prestigious championship, finishing first out of 17 teams in the men’s 250-meter race at the Japan Dragon Boat Championships in Osaka, Japan Sunday, July 19.
The team posted an average heat time of 53 seconds, paddling against the current on the Okawa River for the final 100 meters before finishing one second ahead of the Japanese National Team – 5 of whom the Philippine Army had previously trained.
Team manager Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said the team was not used to paddling with life jackets, as was required by the Japanese organizers.
Despite not being recognized as the national Dragon Boat team by the Philippine Olympic Committee and Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Army has earned a reputation around the world as one of the top club teams, having also won two golds in the 2014 International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) Club Crew World Championships.
“I am very proud because we have proven to everyone that the Philippine Army can successfully conquer the international sports arena if given a chance,” said Cabunoc. “Our team’s discipline and positive attitude made the difference.”
“Our strength is our comradeship and unit discipline. We are stronger if we train and compete together without any outsider who is unfamiliar to the group,” said Cabunoc.
Cabunoc says the next scheduled event for the Philippine Army paddlers isn’t set yet, though they’d like to be allowed by the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation to represent the Philippines at the World Dragon Boat Racing Championships in Ontario, Canada from August 18-23.
Cabunoc says Armed Forces chief Lieutenant General Hernando Iriberri and Army chief Major General Eduardo Ano have sent congratulatory notes to the team.
For now, the team is celebrating with Japanese food and are set to return to the Philippines on July 21, where a congratulatory ceremony awaits them.