SIARGAO ISLAND, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews / 10 July) — More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and six months after Super Typhoon Odette, Siargao is back on the tourist destination map and is currently hosting the 1st Dapa Siargao National Dragon Boat Regatta 2022.
Priscilla Pinky Castillo, the race’s chief technical official and President of Bugsay Pilipinas, said the July 8 to 10 event is historic because after the pandemic lockdowns from March 2020 to the early part of 2022, this is first national dragon boat competition, the first in Mindanao and the first to be held here.
The first wave of competitions started on Saturday morning.
A total of 21 dragon boat teams entered the competition, six from Luzon — the Philippine Navy Dragon Boat Team, Philippine Army Dragon Warriors, Maharlika Drakon, Speed Devilz, United Paddlers Club PH, and UP Dragon Boat Team, and five from the Visayas: Umagu Dragon Boat Team, Sugbu Mighty Dragons, Bohol Paddlers Association, Survivors Leyeteños Paddling Team, and San Jose Banatti Negros.
The remaining 12 teams are from Mindanao: Ricspeed Dragon Boat Team, Amihan Dragon Boat Team, Samal Dragon Boat Team, Gladiators Davao, Hydra Dragon Boat Team, CCY Oro Dragons, Braveheart Dragon Boat Team, Rapid Riders, El Kabater Dragon Boat Team, Bugsay Marajao, Cantilan Red Dragons, and RMMC GenSan Dragon Boat Team.
Dapa Mayor Elizabeth Matugas said the event is part of the town’s tourism and economic recovery efforts. The pandemic lockdowns and the destruction wrought by the super typhoon left thousands jobless.
But during the regatta, the mayor said “all homestays and other accommodation facilities here in Dapa are fully booked.”
She said vendors and drivers are also earning as the event is attended by many spectators and participants.
Surigao del Norte’s 1st district Rep. Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas II said the event is symbolic as it is not only about offering food and harvest but also for peace and freedom from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We hope to elevate this event to international levels, but we have to study it first. Since the tourism activity is back, we are now looking forward to the resumption of other activities such as surfing and game fishing here on the island,” he said.
The race’s champion will receive 150,000 pesos, the 2nd placer P100,00, the 3rd placer P75,000, and P50,000 for the 4th placer. Those who will rank 5th to 10th will receive 10,000 pesos each. (Ivy Marie A. Mangadlao / MindaNews)