I've been talking to Library Renewal Partnership's (LRP) Quintin Pastrana for about a month now about the possibility of making Paoay Lake a training facility for the Manila Boat Club and the Philippine National Rowing Team. Rowers currently row at the Pasig River and La Mesa Dam, but they are looking for a better option. Paoay Lake is an excellent alternative because of its accessibility (Laoag has an international airport), the lake is clean and calm, and there are currently no jurisdictional/political squabbles over the area. We've actually talked to the Punong Barangay of Nagbacalan, Paoay, and Provincial Board Member Jessie Galano about the proposal, and the guy was very receptive. We've also sent a letter to Ilocos Norte governor, Imee Marcos, about supporting the idea. Hopefully, we meet her this coming June.
In the mean time, Quintin offered me to try out rowing at the Manila Boat Club near the Sta. Ana Race Track in Manila.
And so I did.
The Boat Club's dock is at the Pasig River.
Surprisingly, the river was not stinking that morning. The last time I took the Pasig River Ferry (which was more than 2 years ago) I could smell the stench even inside the air-con cabin. And yesterday, I didn't smell a thing. Also, I noticed the water to be cleaner. I mean sure, it's still brown and murky, but at least the floating trash have significantly lessened.
The club is more than a century old. Most of its current members are expats who used to row in their respective countries like the UK, the US and Switzerland.
They have a wide range of racing row boats for a single person, two persons, four persons and even for eight people.
I was told that only the old boats are made of wood. The boats they use now are made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic and other high-tech composite materials.
Here we have Quintin, Max and Mang Ben take out a quad scull boat from their boat house.
Here they are laying the boat in the Pasig River.
This is where I sat. The sculling oars are held by oarlocks on the outriggers. The seat slides front and back to aid the rower in rowing. The feet are held stationary by a shoe assembly fixed on the boat.This is us (Max, Quintin, me and Mang Ben) about to leave the dock.
Mang Ben is teaching me the proper technique in rowing. I can tell you right now it's harder than what it looks like.
I had trouble early on coordinating my lower body and my upper body. Minsan tumatama yung handle sa tuhod ko. Minsan nagbabanggaan yung mga kamay ko. Minsan sablay yung pag-row ko.
It took me quite a while to get the hang of it and "sync" with Max and Quintin. But once you do get in rhythm and be "one" with the other rowers, you feel good inside because you feel you're part of this well-oiled machine gliding quietly through the river.
This is us after 3.5 kilometers, near the Guadalupe Bridge.
With my baseball cap and shades on, I look like someone in the witness protection program.
This is us on the way back to the Boat Club. Notice me checking my Blackberry. Hehe. We rowed a total of 7 kilometers to and from Guadalupe. I actually enjoyed the experience and am interested in doing this as a cross training sport if ever it catches on in my province.Here are my "war wounds." My calves kept on hitting the edge of the seat tracks. Result of wrong positioning of the seat and the foot stop.
Had blisters on my heels as well.
And that was my rowing experience at the Pasig River, courtesy of Quintin Pastrana and Max Makowski. Thanks for inviting me, guys! Rowing is a cool sport. The boats are expensive, yes, but once you have that, all a person needs is an oar, himself and a body of water, and your good to go!
I do hope more people get into rowing because it is a beautiful sport. And for a country that's an archipelago with a lot of coast, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water, why shouldn't we?