Thank you to Lulu Tanalgo for the write up!
The reactivated Philippine Marine Corps Dragon Boat Team got together for their first training session on October 22, 2013. Sports programs have been a priority under a Philippine government initiative focused on Mindanao, “Win the War Thru Peace.” Because its Football for Peace program was successful, the Philippine Marine Corps wanted to broaden its scope. Dragon boat was the next obvious choice, as Filipinos are a seafaring people and the Corps had previous experience with this sport.
They are composed mostly of men and women of the Marine Corps who have served in the battle zones. While there were a handful of civilians who joined the team before, some eventually backed out because of schedule problems and the rigid “Marine” training and regimented lifestyle. The team’s intense discipline pays off, however, as they have consistently placed first, second, and occasionally third in the finals of all the races they’ve joined since re-establishing.
As the Philippine Marine Corps, they consider themselves “paddlers with a cause”, as seen through their charitable endeavors. Half of the team’s winnings from 2014 so far, for example, have gone to charities. Through the “I am Brave” project, the team lead a bloodletting activity at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, then entertained the cancer patients with a children’s party complete with loot bags, clowns, and food carts. They also went to Childhaus, a halfway house for cancer patients, as well as the pediatric and war veterans’ ward of V. Luna Hospital.
Of course, the dragon boat community never forgets that they are battle tested Marines. The Marines have a highly developed esprit de corps with 99% of them having gone through the same basic training, and many of them fought actual wars together.Their culture of “never say die” and “leave no man behind” translates into their team camaraderie. Through the sport of dragon boat, they stay true to their oath “to uphold the traditions of the Philippine Marine Corps, submit to its discipline and carry out its mission…
The team is currently open only to Marines. When not in training, they are in active service and when they are needed in the field or they need further education to move forward in terms of their careers, they are pulled out of the Team and we endeavor to train new Marine paddlers. They are after all, Marines first, paddlers second.