PADS dragon boat team are now world champions!
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - August 26, 2019 - 12:00am

For our special presentation on “Straight from the Sky” I’m proud to bring you Police Colonel Gemma C. Vinluan, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) chief, who took over from her classmate, Police General Royina Garma, who is now head of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. It is indeed a blessing for us in Cebu City that we had two women Police officials become police chief in a very male-dominated profession.

Call it timely that I was in CCPO getting a police clearance from the Office of Police Chief Master Sergeant Frederickson Codilla and you can see for yourself a police office that serves its clients with great efficiency, humility, and politeness. I showed Police Colonel Vinluan my police clearance card bearing her name, which shows that in just two months in office, the name of the new police chief now appears in the card.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Cebu City police arrested women involved in trafficking, freeing many children in what we call a modern-day case of slavery, where Cable Network News has a huge program called Freedom Project. I learned in that interview with Police Colonel Vinluan that this was equally as important to her as the fight against illegal drugs. So call it a blessing that in Cebu City, the fight against modern-day slavery is being fought in the highest ranks of the Cebu City police. I’m sure that women in Cebu City are grateful for this.

So watch Police Colonel Gemma Vinluan talk with us about police programs on SkyCable’s channel 53 at 8 p.m. with replays on Wednesday and Saturday same time and channel. We also have replays on MyTV’s channel 30 at 9 p.m. Monday and at 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday.

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Last June, the team of the Philippine Accessible Disability Services, Inc. (PADS) was already in the airport in Mactan for their flight to Hong Kong for the Dragon Boat Festival races which they already won two years in a row. But the bad news was, due to the Hong Kong demonstration, the Dragon Boat Festival was suddenly cancelled, which was a huge disappointment to the team who have been practicing to do a three-peat.

Mind you, this was the second year that the International Marketing Group, Kaiser Health Group, Manila Bankers Life, and MyTV channel 30 played principal sponsors to PADS. So it was a great disappointment for us also. It was then that JP Ecarma told me about the up and coming 14th International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) World Nations Championships happening from August 20 to 25, 2019 in Pattaya, Thailand. So we agreed to continue sponsoring PADS but this time, it is akin to the Olympics of the dragon boat races.

The PADS team has been chosen to man the Philippine Paradragon Elite Team and will be competing in the 200-meter, 500-meter and 2,000-meter categories and allow me to report to our readers that PADS won the first two gold medals for the Philippines in the Paradragon 1 and Paradragon 2 divisions of the 14th IDBF World Dragon Boat Racing Championships yesterday afternoon. Ask yourself, how many Cebuanos have ever won a world championship in any sporting category?

Mind you, PADS brings not only to Cebu, but for the rest of the Philippines, great pride and honor because of their disabilities. Yes, PADS is a People With Disabilities dragonboat rowing team and we congratulate their valiant efforts to bring home a world championship gold medal to us in Cebu. We now have Cebuano world champions in Cebu! It is great news for us.

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Today is a holiday and pardon my confusion, but today is National Heroes Day, while the Araw ng Kagitingan is celebrated on April 9. Of course, we know about national heroes like Dr. Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini, and so many others. But at this point I would like to propose that Army Private First Class Dhan Ryan Bayot, whose astonishing story of courage during the siege of Marawi be considered a national hero. The 24-year-old soldier was part of a 51st Infantry Battalion team stationed at a detachment in Barangay Lilod in Marawi. The entire nation saw the courage of Pfc. Bayot who was not afraid to die for his country in the fight against terrorism. He is for me a true national hero!

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