Last December 17, the Philippine Accessible Disability Services (PADS) Adaptive Dragon Boat Racing Team bagged silver and bronze medals at the BakuNaga Races in Naga City, Cebu. They won first runner-up for the mixed category, and second runner-up for the open men’s category.
The team is made up of people with disabilities—some have physical disabilities like amputees, others are people who are deaf or blind. As the first cross-disability adaptive team, they’ve made waves in the local dragon boating scene by quickly becoming one of the strongest teams in Cebu. Though the team was just founded a year ago, they’ve already participated in seven competitions and won championships in two—namely, the 1st Naga Invitational Dragon Boat Race and the Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races.
What sets them apart is they don’t just participate in para sports—in fact, they more often join regular dragon boat races. Going toe-to-toe with regular paddlers and even besting them gives the PADs team a wonderful sense of empowerment.
“Sabi ng iba, ‘I could have given up on my life because of the disability that I have, but I’m proud of being disabled now because in Cebu, they look up to us,’” says JP Maunes, CEO of PADS and manager of the dragon boat racing team.
“There’s this paradigm shift of how we see and treat disability, and how our paddlers see their disability as their own strength,” he continues. “They’ve developed this heart na [we] just never give up in everything that we do and it applies every time we race. Puso ang labanan, hindi palakasan eh. That’s one advantage we have.”
After a very successful first year, the PADS Dragon Boat Racing Team is looking forward to joining more races in 2018, including international competitions in the USA, Hungary, and Canada. Seeing how far they've come, we're sure they'll do the Philippines proud.
The PADS Adaptive Dragon Boat Racing Team is looking for sponsors for their upcoming races. The donation of a dragon boat would also be very much appreciated, as they still rent one for every competition. If you're interested in sponsoring or donating, send a message to the PADS Adaptive Dragon Boat Racing Team Facebook page or contact JP Maunes at 0917-701-4700.