MANILA — More than 30 riders from all over the world will gather in Puerto Princesa, Palawan next month for a weeklong sporting event that organizers believe will help revive the art of sailing in the Philippines.
The Blue Palawan Kite Open, now on its second year, is the inaugural kiteboarding event of the world-renowned Kite Park League Tour. The competition will run February 8-16.
The event will require participants to go through different obstacles on a kiteboard.
“We use the kite instead of the wakeboard’s cable system. The kite is propelled by the wind which gives it a more green approach, and this goes towards green tourism,” explained Blue Palawan’s Paula Rosales, a former wakeboarder and one of the top kiteboarders of the Philippines, during the presser held at the Handlebar restaurant in Makati City.
“In other countries, sailing is part of their (physical education) curriculum. Lahat sila marunong mag-sail.
“Samantalang sa atin meron tayong katig at parao (a native boat) na pwede nating paglaruan . . . hindi itinuturo sa atin ito. We look at this event to help educate people about what we can do with the wind.”
Also present during the press conference are pro kiteboarders Manuela Jongo of Switzerland, James Boulding of the United Kingdom and Eric James Rienstra of the United States.
“I think the Philippines is a good place for kiteboarding . . . They offer good wind plus flat water,” said Jongo.
“The weather is nice and warm, that riders from Europe and the US don’t need to wear wetsuits and wet clothes to protect themselves from the cold. They could go with just shorts and bikinis. I think that’s why they love to go to the Philippines because of the amazing conditions that are perfect for our discipline.”
Rosales said last year’s event was so successful that the Department of Tourism decided to work with them for this year’s competition.
She said the presence of popular kiteboarders have helped put Palawan on the world kiteboard map similar to what wakeboarding has done to Camarines Sur.
“Social media wise, napakaganda ng post-event status from last year,” said Rosales. “Last year alone we have four kiteboarding magazine covers.”
“We’re lucky na itong mga pumuntang kiteboarders are the best kiteboarders in the world. They’re very influential. Like Manuela, she has 25,000 followers in her Instagram alone and we have 30 different riders all over the world that have thousands of followers. All of them have sponsors that reposted their materials, there’s also the kiteboarding forum, so it kind of snowballed.
“We’re lucky that the Department of Tourism saw that this is something that will really increase the tourism of Palawan and also the Philippines because this is sports tourism.”
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.