Cash windfall awaits Philippine dragon boat champsBy Marc Anthony Reyes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LOS ANGELES—From gathering tahong (mussels) in Manila Bay to possibly collecting bonus cash this time, it has indeed been a wonderful change of fortunes for the Cobra Philippine Dragon Boat team.
The Cobra PDBF paddlers, sent to the World Championships in Tampa Bay, Florida, mainly on doleouts from Asia Brewery Inc., have been receiving pledges of financial support from their Manila backers since their arrival here Thursday.
One congressman sent head coach Nestor Ilagan a text message saying a House bill is being prepared that will ask each one of the chamber’s 284 representatives to chip in P5,000 for the team. That could amount to P1.42 million.
Giant television network ABS-CBN also reportedly plans to give the team P1 million. The network aired the team’s sad plight before the Florida event and traced its difficulties to the Philippine Olympic Committee’s refusal to recognize the team and to the lack of financial support from the Philippine Sports Commission.
It was in that TV story where the team members revealed a fondness for eating mussels they collect in Manila Bay, where they train two times a day, six days a week.
“Sometimes we gather as many as one sack of tahong,” said Rico “Dagul” Pradilla. “I think they are safe to eat because they don’t grow in dirty waters.”
But with a cash windfall headed their way, the paddlers, who enthralled their countrymen when they won five golds and two silvers last weekend, need not risk disease that the mussles might pose.
“I hope this comes true,” said head coach Nestor Ilagan. “This will come a long way for us in terms of training and overseas stints.”