Mars G. Alison
The pledge system is what Jose Antonio Aboitiz, Visayas chairman of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), wants to emphasize in this year’s 7th Olango Challenge happening on May 17 at the Crimson Resort & Spa Mactan in Lapu-Lapu City.
The Olango Challenge, the Philippines first open water swimming competition, was primarily organized by the PBSP in cooperation with the Philippine Swimming Inc. to raise funds for classrooms on Olango Island.
Aboitiz, who has swam in every Olango Challenge since its inception in 2008, said that most of the funds raised by this swimming competition have come from the pledges.
The pledge system works by participants asking their families, friends, and officemates to pledge a certain amount while they race on the waters, sort of like a friendly bet.
Aboitiz himself sets a personal time in finishing the race and urges his friends and families to either pledge against or for his goal.
Hoping to increase the number of pledges was the reason for the organizers in wanting to hold a press conference earlier for this year’s Olango Challenge to drum up a wider interest for the event.
They had planned to launch this year’s event as early as last November. However, helping out the victims of the two calamities that struck the Visayas in October and November had taken priority.
During the press conference held at the Casino Español de Cebu, Aboitiz express hopes that they would be able to push through with their plan to launch the next race earlier.
Since 2008, the Olango Challenge have raised about P4 million which have allowed PBSP to build three 2-classroom buildings in Olango barangays Candagsao, Caw-oy and Tungasan.
A fourth is being worked on in Talima. This would already have been done if they had not needed to divert their resources in helping the victims of the two calamities last year.
With the classrooms, students on Olango need not have their classes under the trees or on the school stage anymore.
Another aim of this swimming competition is to create awareness for learning how to swim to curb the increasing number of drowning incidents in the country.
Alexander Reyes of the Philippine Swimming Inc. said that the competition in itself is already attracting attention for swimming.
He also added that they bring in members of the Philippine Life Saving to be part of the race.
Aboitiz added that they are also planning to hold classroom workshops to raise awareness for drowning with whatever funds left from classroom building.