PUERTO Princesa City --The Philippines turned the pristine waters of Palawan into a veritable gold mine, winning three of 10 gold medals in the Asian Dragon Boat Championships here Saturday.
Buoyed by their recent success in the International Canoe Federation Dragon Boat World Championships in Russia where they won three golds, the Filipinos used their familiarity of their home turf to capture three golds and two silvers in the two-day competition organized by the Philippine Canoe Kayak Dragonboat Federation (PCKDF) and hosted by the Puerto Princesa government.
Leading the gold medal hunt for the host country is the national team in the women’s 10-seater, which captured top honors following a heated battle against Southeast Asian rivals Thailand and Indonesia.
e Filipinas, who are playing as a team for the first time, submitted a time of 54.453 against Thailand (54.753 seconds) and Indonesia (55.351) .
The gold-medal winning women’s team is composed of Glaiza Liwag, Sherryl Caang, Apple Agitona, Rea Glore, Rhea Roa, Rosalyn Esguerra, Ella Fe Niuda, Chiva Angela Abanilla, Rossel Burgos, Raquel Amersion, drummer Patricia Bustamante and steerwoman Maribeth Coranto.
The Filipinos, whose campaign is also supported by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), also paddled their way to gold medals in the 20-seater men’s 500-meter event and 10-seater junior mixed 500m.
In the 20-seater men’s 500-meter, the Filipinos clocked 1:52.720 against Chinese Taipei’s 1:57.602.
The battle was a lot closer in the 10-seater junior mixed 500m.
Led by Ojay Fuentes and Hermie Macaranas, the junuor team edged Chinese Taipei by a split second at the line, 2:10.387 to 2:11.197.
The silver medals came in the small boat men and women 500m.
The three-gold medal achievement by the Filipinos exceeded expectations by the PCKDF, headed by president Jonne Go.
“We are proud of our paddlers, especially the women’s team. They did their best to make our country proud and even exceeded our expectations,” said Go, also one of the top officials in the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
Go also lauded the PSC, headed by chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, the POC under president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco and the Puerto Princesa City government underr Mayor Lucilo Bayron, for their support.
National team coach Len Escollante said she never doubted the Filipinas’ capability to win the gold medal.
“We really didn’t expect to wina gold in the women’s event. Thailand and Indonesia are the contenders here. We also had not fielded our women paddlers as a team before,” said Escollante.’
“But tiwala ako na makahahabol ang mga paddlers natin lalo na Makita ko ang kanilang hataw sa last 20 meters. Sabi ko nga, gold na ito,”added Escollante, who also personally spearheaded the organizing committee.
The Filipinos also figured prominently in two events where they settled for silver medals.
In the small boat men’s 500, Japan (2:03.764) won by a hairline over the Philippines (2:03.847) and Indonesia (2:03.890).
The Filipinas crossed the line in 2:22.128 for the silver medal in the small boat women’s 200m behind Thailand, which finished with 2:19.145.Indonesia came in third with 2:22.795.
Among those present during the opening ceremony were PSC commissioners Ramon Fernandez and Charles Maxey.