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Pinoy PWD team wins dragon boat case

07 June 2017

Shouting “Pilipinas! Pilipinas!,” a team of Filipino paddlers with disabilities celebrated at the Tamar seafront on June 4, after winning the Paradragon race of the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Festival 2017.

It was a dream come true for members of the PADS Adaptive Dragonboat Racing Team who are either deaf, blind, paraplegics or amputees.

Delegation leader and former PADS chief executive JP Maunes promised hours before the championship race that the team would give the nation “a fight to remember”. He kept that promise.

The Filipinos, four of whom are amputees and one wheelchair-bound, beat their rivals around the world to snare the gold trophy for the country and a gold medal for each of the 30 or so team members.

Some 4,000 paddlers comprising dozens of teams competed for trophies and honors in 24 events that were held in Victoria Harbour between June 2 -4. 

The events ended Sunday afternoon with the last of the 500-meter standard boat races, including the Paradragon event.

"We shall give a good fight, a fight that everyone will remember, a fight far...bigger than this race,” Maunes wrote on the PADS Facebook page on Sunday.

“This is the fight for the thousands of Filipinos who have been deprived of their inherent dignity and humanity because of their disabilities. Forced by society to hide in the shadows of denial, shame and doubt…We are bringing their fight here in the international rough waters of Hong Kong,” Maunes declared. 

The paddlers started with measured pace under the command of a drum beater, before picking up speed  at the halfway mark. They sent their boat slicing through Victoria Harbour  as they beat off the challenge from rivals.

After crossing the finish line, the team members raised their paddles in victory, while fellow Filipinos on shore joined them in chanting "Pilipinas”, many of them shedding tears of joy.

“Thank you po sa mga naniwala sa amin at hindi bumitaw sa amin,” team coach and polio victim Christian Ian Sy said in a video feed, as he cried with joy.

Sy thanked those who sponsored the team, including “Mommy Ty” who, he said, brought the delegation to Hong Kong.

“Alam kong despite our many lapses, binigyan mo pa rin kami ng chance,” Sy said.

Just a week before the race, Sy made an appeal on Facebook to kindhearted individuals who could help pay the paddlers’ travel tax, terminal fee and other expenses for their trip to Hong Kong. -  with a report from Vir B. Lumicao
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