Tampa Fil-Ams proud of adopted brothers, sisters
The Filipino community in Tampa, Florida has been very proud of the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) Cobra team that competed here. We consider them as our adopted brothers and sisters. The group won gold and silver medals, over well-funded and trained opponents. This belies the claim of the Philippine Olympic Committee officials that their opponents were novices and rookies. I personally witnessed the races and I can attest that their counterparts from other countries were huge, muscular and well-built, especially the Europeans and Americans. The claim that our team is composed of old and “ampaw” athletes is too demeaning and unprofessional.
Due to financial constraints, the group stayed at an almost rundown hotel. In contrast, their counterparts lodged at Marriotts, Hyatt and Westin. We were also informed that because of insufficient funds, the team didn’t have enough paddles for the race. Luckily, the Tampa host was able to lend them enough paddles.
Our Filipino community was caught by surprise at the team’s participation as we were informed of their presence almost on the day of their arrival. Despite this very short notice, we were able to pull our resources to help and support the team. Food and drinks arrived daily at the hotel and training center.
On the day of the race, our countrymen almost outnumbered the other races in cheering and giving moral support to the team. This probably gave our team a home-turf feeling and motivation to go for the gold.
At the completion of the event, our Filipino community gave our adopted and victorious brothers and sisters a well-deserved celebration at our own Philippine Cultural Center. We raised fund and collected goods so they could bring some “pasalubong” for their loves ones in the Philippines. We also entertained them at the renowned Busch Garden in Tampa.
We are very proud of our Cobra dragon boat team. Shame on those people in the Philippines who don’t appreciate what the team has done for our country.
—LEON F. ESPIRITU, M.D.,
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