When the Manila Ocean Park (MOP) opened its doors along Manila Bay in 2008, it seemed natural for the marine park to support its employees in forming a dragon boat team. A few years later, they are among the most active corporate-based teams in the PDBF roster. While MOP is a relatively young team compared to others who have been around since the 90’s, “What makes our team stand out is that, it is a very happy-go-lucky team… yet very serious about the sport,” says coach Pepito “Hapi” Maligaya. “Right now, we are on our way to the top. Not all teams are blessed to reach the grand finals (for the men’s team) in less than a year of its birth. But Team MOP has managed to do that and a lot more! We have a passionate team with young and energetic members and we can’t wait for our future races.” Lesley Cabal, assistant team captain, adds, “With dragon boat, I feel like my day is incomplete when I am not able to practice.”
Like most other teams, MOP’s trainings start before the work day at 5:30 to 7:00 AM, around four days a week. Lesley stresses that despite being a company team, MOP is open to anyone looking to get into dragon boat, including non-employees. “We welcome ‘outsiders’ who are willing to dedicate their mornings training and eating with them team. No membership dues are required. Just wake up early and bring your sense of humor. For those who do not know how to swim, it’s OK. We’ll teach you as the training progresses.” Another bonus of paddling with Team MOP is the exposure to environmental outreach activities like clean-up drives, in line with the marine park’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Thank you to Coach Hapi Maligaya and Lesley Cabal for the info!