Gen. Carlos Holganza (left) and Alfonso Alvarez discuss the creation of the Dragon Boat Cebu Central Philippines. (Photo By Nimrod Quinones)
Gen. Carlos Holganza (left) and Alfonso Alvarez discuss the creation of the Dragon Boat Cebu Central Philippines. (Photo By Nimrod Quinones)

Cebu will soon witness a slew of Dragon Boat Race events to culminate in an international race within the year with the creation of the Dragon Boat Cebu Central Philippines. According to its chairman, Alfonso Alvarez, the vision is to make Cebu the dragon boat capital of the Philippines.

Dragon Boat Racing is a Chinese sport but Filipinos have also been known to excel in it. In fact, dragon boat teams from the Philippines are one of the most feared teams in the world, said Alvarez.

What exactly is Dragon Boat Racing? It is a watersport wherein a group of paddlers in even numbers use a dragon boat to maneuver or paddle in time with the beating of a drum from the starting line to the finish line with the team to finish the fastest being the winner.

A dragon boat race team consists of 18-20 paddlers for a standard-size boat or 8-10 for a small-size boat. Each group will have one steerer, who will sit at the rear of the boat, and one drummer, who will sit at the front of the boat. The paddlers will be sitting on either side of the boat in even numbers.

This water race has been held in southern China for more than 2,000 years as part of an ancient folk ritual among villagers.

According to Alvarez, the sport comes naturally to Filipinos owing to the fact that we are an island nation. And, Filipinos will not need physical assets such as height to excel in the sport. All that is needed is coordination, unity and teamwork to be able to paddle in one direction.

In creating the group, Alvarez has the support of Gen. Carlos Holganza, the guy who also spurred the creation of Dragon Boat Race groups in Bohol and Davao.

Holganza said that when he first created a group in Tagbilaran, Bohol, he was questioned why there and not here in Cebu.

Holganza admitted that indeed, Cebu is one of the best places for Dragon Boat events. He said that the only reason why he first brought it to Bohol was because he is from there.

“We want Dragon Boat Racing to be one more sport that will put Cebu on the intenational map,” Alvarez said.

He added that just like the Formula One in Singapore, they want to draw enthusiasts of the sport in Cebu by holding global events.

As the group’s name suggest, it will encompass the Central Visayas with its main headquarters in Cebu.

In line with this, the group is encouraging the formation of clubs and teams dedicated to Dragon Boat Racing. To do this, they will be tapping the sports commissions of the city and province to start their plans of making a Cebu-wide circuit. Bogo has already expressed interest and the group is eyeing Dumaguete to also put up its own Dragon Boat group so someday there will be a region-wide circuit.

They will be organizing local events, hopefully on a quarterly basis, to drum up interest for the sport.

Holganza admitted that the biggest stumbling block in putting up a Dragon Boat Race club or team is the boat which for now can only be bought in Manila. A training boat will cost about P200,000 while a competition boat will cost about P400,000.

Right now, the group has two boats and they are planning to acquire more so they could rent it out to clubs and teams. They are also planning to get sponsors to provide boats to the clubs and teams.

Another aspect that the group is looking into is a home area which could be used as a docking area for the boats.

Alvarez said they are looking at the South Road Properties (SRP), Pulangbato Port in Bogo, south of Cebu, Liloan and Bantayan Island in the north of Cebu.

With Dragon Boat having already reached Metro Manila, Lingayen in Pangasinan, Zambales, Camarines Sur, Boracay, Laoag, Bohol, Davao and now Cebu, it won’t be long that a Philippine-wide circuit will be created.

For more information, please send your queries to dragonboat.cebu@gmail.com.