Philippine Dragon Boat members want to just keep paddling along
TAMPA BAY, Florida – If all else fails, we just want to continue paddling.
That’s the general sentiment of the Cobra Philippine Dragon Boat Federation members who captured five golds and two silver medals at the recent World Championships here.
“We have made our case and did what we have to do, it’s all in the hands of the officials back home,” said assistant team manager Maj. Harold Cabunco. “We just want to continue paddling, and better so if we do it donning the Philippine colors.”
The Cobra PDBF paddlers competed without support from the Philippine Sports Commission after the Philippine Olympic Committee stripped the PDBF of its national sports association status and placed it under the Philippine Canoe/Kayak Federation.
(The POC had to change the status of the PDBF since its international federation is not recognized by the International Olympic Committee—Ed)
In fact, the team even brought instant noodles, rice and canned goods with them because they were not expecting an outpouring of support from the Filipino community here.
“We’re already surprised with our `celebrity status’ here because everyone wants to take pictures with us,” said paddler Thea Bartolome. “We don’t know what to expect back in Manila. But definitely we’ll be happy just to continue what we love to do.”
With the Filipinos’ scintillating performance here which beat their previous best showing of two golds in 2009 in the Czech Republic, support overflowed not only among the Filipino Community here but also around the world through the internet.
Their facebook page rose from 300 to 3,400 members over the weekend and many other FB pages for the World Championship team sprouted in overwhelming support of the paddlers.
The Inquirer story of the team’s first gold (1,000-meter men’s) was recommended almost 2,000 times over FB, and also got 1081 FB shares, 73 in twitter and 2,083 shares in all other social networking site as of Tuesday.
“Let the people speak out, they know the issues,” added Cabunoc, who accompanied the Cobra PDBF paddlers to a well-deserved trip to Busch Garden theme park Tuesday.
They fly out of this city Wednesday and are expected in Manila Friday morning via Philippine Airlines flight 103. They will hold a scheduled press conference and a courtesy call on President Aquino.