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PWDs, cancer survivors out to steal the show

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu has already set records in dragonboat even if the Cebu Dragonboat Fiesta is yet to take place on April 28- 30 at the Cebu Yacht Club in Lapu-Lapu City.

This as for the first time, there will be an all-person with disability competing against able-bodied paddlers via the Philippine Accessibility Disability Services Incorporated (PADS) team led by the one-legged Arnold Balais.

During their team presentation at the Ayala Center Active Zone the other day, Balaid said Team PADS is not only composed of orthopedic cases, but also a blind and deaf and mute. Currently, the group has more than 20 strong members.

“Sa dragonboat, nakakalimutan namin ang mga disability namin. Actually, may motto kami, “bugsay hangtud mabuang!But seriously, this is not about winning, this is about awareness of what we are capable of,” said Balais.

Another record set by Cebu is the all-cancer survivor team carrying 'I Can Serve' squad, who like the PWDs, also want to tell the world that cancer is not a hindrance in one's pursuit of athletic excellence.

“We are stronger than cancer! And that’s what we want the people to know,” said Mirasol Vinas, one of the first four breast cancer survivor-members of their dragonboat team.

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Coach Nonnie Lopez, one of the event organizers, said both the PWD and cancer-survivor teams, however, are treated like normal paddlers and should not be taken for granted.

Over 10 squads from Cebu are seeing action in Visayas and Mindanao’s biggest international event, so far.

Lopez said they are expecting a total of 50 squads to join in the event, bigger than that of the last international event in Palawan.

Majority of the entries are coming from different areas in the country plus four foreign squads from the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Nigeria.Teams from Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Italy have also sent feelers to take part in the three-day event.

With that, next month’s event backed up by the Department of Tourism is indeed a “fiesta” that the Cebuanos must look forward to. (FREEMAN)

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