By Jade S. Violeta
MEMBERS of the Pilipinas Orient Dragons paddling team of Negros Oriental, Philippines are gearing up to raise the country’s banner as they take on the challenge of the King’s Cup Elephant Boat Race and River Festival on March 29 to 31 in Charoennakorn in Bangkok Thailand.
The race will take place at the Chao Phraya rivers, where teams from all over Southeast Asia and other parts of the region will race in the cultural tradition of Dragon boat racing using the elephant-themed Dragon boats.
Leading the campaign of the Pilipinas Orient Dragons paddling team are members of the mostly Dumaguete City-based Umago paddlers, RJ Balbuena, a former triathlete who has seen action in the past races in Cebu City, Philippines, Kent Martinez, Weng Martinez and Janjan Bolisig.
Also set to see action in the three-day grind are Aris Sun, Kean Erasmo, Rey Tan, Kim Tan, Maxuel Jarabe and Randy Renacia. The Umago team, which will see action in the 200-meter Open Standard Boat category, according to Balbuena, is not a national team but a Philippine Club Crew representing the country.
Aside from the members above, the team has also recruited the services of other paddlers from the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) teams such as the Speed Devilz, One Piece, Triton, Ampphi, Cagayan de Oro City and Dragons Representative.