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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Baji paddlers: making change for Boholanas

TAGBILARAN CITY, March 19 (PIA)—It is a skill popularly ascribed maybe to early Greeks, or Scandinavians, or the Polynesians: the men’s world of rowing. 

That has just changed in Bohol. Enter: Baji. 

Last week, a six women paddler from team Baji, led by a dentist and inter-nationally certified paddlers Dr. Joanne Flores and Atty. Rain Calimbayan proved they too can earn a berth in the men dominated world of dragon boat paddling. 

Recently, their six paddler team snatched the victory from an eight woman team in the recently concluded Bayongan Regatta 2017, at the Bayongan Dam impounding, Bayongan San Miguel in time for their Foundations Days, March 11. 

Atty Calimbayan however was the race technical director during the event. 

But who are the Baji? 

A young team of women paddlers in Bohol, Baji has recently showed women that the fields are even. Incidentally, many think it is not. 

At first glance, they are your typical Boholano women stereotypes: students and professionals with brown to fair skins, dainty, demure, soft spoken and lady-like in almost any manner in a crowd.

They do exchange women banter, and tease each other, talk about beauty products and their facebook exploits. 
But, with their paddles raised up and on the ready, these women transform into focused athletes as determined to paddle until they drop, like anyone else. 

And when anyone else would just paddle the fastest their womanly frail limbs are capable, synchronicity is the name of the game for Baji.

In a dragon boat team, when everyone would just dip their paddles and heave, it creates more drag jeopardizing speed, a dragon boating team coach supplied.

Baji team is led by Dr. Flores, Atty Rain Calimbayan and comprised of Bernalyn Dumandan, Jesilda Homes, Marie Cris Arocha, Rowena Eyas, Danica Caroles, Queenie Olohan and Mae Armachuelo.

Asked what makes their team work? 

“Discipline, and practice,” Baji members said, fully understanding the worth of teamwork. “And focus,” someone added. 

“We practice every Sunday, taking 2-3 hours of rowing and team bonding,” Dr. Flores added, “ending the backbreaking practice routines with a team-building boodle fight.” 

That means waking up early, gearing up, getting through a series of stretching exercises and leaving homes and families when everyone else is tucked beneath blankets. 

"We have to train the lean body to bend, twist and kick hard to maximize on the scoop, you slip off the foothold and fall, that's a second difference between winning and losing," member shares.

Last Saturday, bringing the banner of home team San Miguel, Dr. Flores and her team lost half a paddle distance during the first heat in the all women category of the race. 

They finished at 1:22:38 as against Dauis Wild Dragons which broke the line at 1:21:94. 

But on the second heat, a truly handicapped team with two paddlers less edged past contender Dauis Wild Dragons by over 8 seconds, despite the clear advantage. 

Baji San Miguel pegged 2:46:72 time record against Dauis Wild Dragons which had 2:54:69. Coming in at second runner up is Siete Dos at 2:69:66. 

The race took the team times registered at the finish of every heat and added them. The shortest registered rowing time wins, race technical director Atty Calimbayan explained. 

In dragon boating however, weight, displacement and synchronized attack strategies matter significantly, that a team of less paddlers could still make a dash for it to the finish line, shares a veteran from the Bohol Paddlers Association. 

Incidentally, both teams comprise the now shining Baji Dragon boat team of Bohol. 

Baji is making change happen in the world of women here. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)

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