The 1st Dapa Siargao International Dragon Boat Festival formally kicked off here Saturday.
Tight competition among the 28 dragon boat teams composed of 918 athletes is expected during the race, which ends on Sunday.
Five of the 28 teams come from other countries, while the remaining 23 are known Philippine-based dragon boat teams that have been in various competitions in the past years.
Of the five foreign teams, three are from Singapore and one each from Dubai and Hongkong.
Dapa Mayor Elizabeth Matugas formally opened the race and thanked the different teams for their participation in the international event.
Presidential son William Vincent Marcos was the guest speaker during the opening ceremony and shared the official message of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. for the event.
“It has been more than two years since the world was thrust into the grips of the (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic and more than a year since Super Typhoon Odette wreaked havoc on our beloved Siargao,” Marcos said.
Despite the situation, he said, the people of Siargao managed to recover through their resilience and strength.
“We take another momentous leap forward through the inaugural of the 1st Dapa Siargao International Dragon Boat Festival. Our shores now warmly welcome all the 28 teams coming from different corners of the globe, whose presence and participation make this event even more colorful and vibrant,” Marcos said.
Surigao del Norte 1st District Rep. Francisco Jose Matugas said he would add the dragon boat racing to his sports program, including in his legislative agenda to further promote the watersport in other areas.
“We will inspire our youth to be involved, not only in ball games as a team sport but also in dragon boat as part of our sports program,” Matugas said.
He noted that Siargao could be positioned as a dragon boat destination in the country aside from surfing.
Tingog Sinirangan Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez also graced the opening ceremony and lauded the leaders of Siargao Island for staging the international event.
“Your dedication to the development and promotion of sports in your locality is truly commendable,” Romualdez said.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary Ferdinand Jumapao represented Secretary Maria Cristina Frasco during the event.
“Secretary Frasco would have loved to be here to personally witness the resilience of the people of Dapa in Siargao,” Jumapao said, adding that the secretary has other equally important engagements.
The international event in Dapa, he added, has the potential to capture the attention of the world, as it has already garnered the support and participation of foreign athletes.
In a separate message on Saturday, DOT 13 (Caraga) Director Ivonnie Dumadag said the local government unit of Dapa has remained steadfast in its vision to continuously put forward tourism initiatives that benefit the local communities, sustain economic gains, and promote responsible tourism practices.
“We, in the DOT-Caraga, will remain as your partner in transforming the tourism industry in the region as a driver of change and innovation,” Dumadag said. (PNA)