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Get to know Surigao Del Norte's First International Dragon Boat Summer Festival

Surigao del Norte, Philippines

Surigao del Norte is dubbed as the island of adventures. That's why I couldn't think of any better beach in the Philippines where a dragon boat race can be perfectly held. For those who aren't familiar of dragon boat racing, it is composed of a group of paddlers and a drummer whose aim is to finish first among their fellow competitors. This contest is all about team efforts. If you prefer doing tasks alone, then this sports is not for you.

The history of dragon boat racing can be traced back over a couple of thousand years ago in Southern China. Qu Yuan, an advisor to a certain emperor of the Chu Kingdom in the southern provinces of China jumped into a river as a sign of his protest against corruption going on. Local fishermen on a boat rescued him:  they were beating their drums, paddling and at the same time throwing rice dumplings wrapped in lotus leaves to shoo away flesh-eating fishes swimming around him.  

Tired and sleepy from an early Manila - Cebu - Surigao del Norte flight, I arrived along with fellow bloggers and media participants very curious about how this game is done. On our first day, we witnessed a short parade of local and international dragon boat paddlers who will join the race along the seaside boulevard of Surigao del Norte. A total of 4 teams from Canada, China, Malaysia and Hong Kong plus 22 local teams coming from Luzon, Vizayas and Mindanao will compete to win these awards: Mixed Small Crew Category and Standard Open Crew Category both for 200 meters. 

Known for hosting two international sports events: game-fishing and surfing competitions,  Surigao del Norte is the first city in Mindanao to organize a dragon boat race. The local government office headed by Mayor Ernesto Matugas hopes that this event will slowly put the city's name in the map of sports tourism. More tourists that will visit Surigao del Norte mean more income to the locals, especially to hotels, restaurants and transportation service providers.    

Surigao del Norte international first dragon boat race 2018

Getting to know Bugsay Pilipinas
Surigao del Norte's dragon boat festival wouldn't happen without Bugsay Pilipinas, a group of individuals who love this kind of sports. Bugsay Pilipinas introduced the dragon boat sport   during the First Quarterly Meeting by the League of Municipalities of the Philippines in Surigao del Sur just this March, 2018 including an advocacy of protecting the environment in the coastal community areas. 

Accomplishments of Bugsay Pilipinas 
  • Holding National Dragon Boat Festival in Surigao del Sur and Paddle for Womanity, All Women Race in Siaton, Negros Oriental
  • Endorsing Sugbu Mighty Dragons, Cebu Pink Paddlers and the Philippine Navy to Keelung International Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan. The Philippine Navy Women won 2 gold medals and Sugbu Mighty Dragons won 2 silver medals. In Small Boat 200 meters and 500 meters, Cebu Pink Paddlers emerged as Champion in the International Breast Cancer category.
  • Bakunawa, a team from Iligan became the first ever all-Mindanao crew to compete overseas and made history by winning Silver in Guizhou, China and the Champion in Stanley, Hong Kong.
  • Sugbu Mighty Dragons Men's Team won in the 2018 Hualien Pacific International Dragon Boat Race in Taiwan

Secretary of the Presidential Communications Office of the Philippines Martin Andanar whose hometown is Surigao del Norte was the guest of honor during the Opening Ceremony. He personally "dotted the eye of the dragon red" to officially open the event.  

The Dragon Boat Race 
I have covered a lot of events around the Philippines. Starting late is always the common denominator. In Surigao del Norte, EVERYTHING IS ON TIME. The international dragon boat competition in this city happened according to the agreed time and even finished earlier than what planned! 

At 6 am, the competition has started smoothly and no untoward incidences that happened. I was there in the boulevard along with the locals to see what a dragon boat competition is all about. Basically, it is all about rowing the boat as fast as you can. I wish though I have a camera that's used by National Geographic but I don't. I snapped a few using my iPhone 6s but these are silhouettes. I just let my eyes witness the passion and dedication of these paddlers from around the country and abroad give their very best. It gave ma an intense feeling but seeing the rest of paddlers waiting for their turn at the bay made me realize this is a friendly race. 


List of participants of Surigao Del Norte's First International Dragon Boat Summer Festival:
  • Bugsay Marajao in Surigao, Mindanao
  • Kujaw Tiger Dragons in Cortes, Mindanao
  • Rogue Pilipinas in Manila, Luzon
  • Ampphi Davao in Davao City, Mindanao
  • Baybreeze Sports Unlimited Draco Cancabato in Tacloban, Visayas
  • Speed Devilz in Manila, Luzon
  • Sugbu Mighty Dragons in Cebu, Visayas
  • Basecamp Dragons in Davao, Mindanao
  • Cagayan de Oro Dragons in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao
  • Black Mantra Warriors in Cebu,Visayas
  • RCP Sea Dragons in Manila, Luzon
  • Umagu in Dumaguete, Visayas
  • Canadian Chamber in Canada
  • Metro Dumaguete Paddlers in Dumaguete, Visayas
  • Orient Dragons in Penang, Malaysia
  • Dragon Warriors in Davao City, Mindanao
  • Rising Dragons in Hong Kong, China
  • Salties Saltwater Dragons in Leyte, Visayas
  • Kampilan in Davao, Mindanao
  • Cebu Poseidon Dragons in Cebu, Visayas
  • Father Saturnino Urios University in Butuan, Mindanao
  • Knight Dragons in Ghuangzhou, China


The winners
  • Bugsay Marajao Surigao - Standard Open Crew Category
  • Leytenos Paddlers Tacloban - Small Mixed Minor Category
  • Kampilan Dragon Boat Davao - Small Mixed Major Category


Congratulation to the winners! May this dragon boat festival should be held every year to encourage more people to be active in sports, boost tourism and create environmental awareness about taking care of our sea. 

Next post, I will share my travel guide to Surigao del Norte. Stay tuned :)  

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