LAPU-LAPU CITY, CEBU – No less than renowned Hawaiian elder and respected ocean canoe paddler and voyager, Kimokeo Kapapahulehua himself blessed the Maharlika Big6, the country's first 6-man ocean canoe (OC6) pioneered by Island Buzz Philippines in partnership with Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Singapore Paddle Club (SPC), Republic Chemical Industries, Inc. (Pioneer Epoxy), and ocean conservation foundation Oceana.
Members from Island Buzz Philippines headed by its founder Buzzy Budlong helped the Hawaiian elder lead the solemn ceremony amid the drizzling weather brought by tropical depression Samuel at the Chateau by the Sea, Lapu-lapu City.
Budlong said that the event aims to promote ocean canoe paddling as a free-energy and eco-friendly water sport in the country. He believes that Cebu has a huge potential to be a venue for paddle training and racing of ocean canoes, which will help promote Cebu’s islander culture and the art of paddling and canoe-making.
“As a paddler, I’ve been searching for our cultural ties with the water and our crafts. We are living in an archipelago and our islands are interconnected by water and yet we don’t live the islander lifestyle. The ocean canoe—through paddling and racing—can help trace our roots as islanders and appreciate this kind of culture,” Budlong added.
Kapapahulehua, on the other hand, stressed that the OC6 should not only be treated as a vessel for races but one that preserves the country’s heritage and the environment.
Ocean canoe paddling is a widely known lifestyle in Hawaii and other neighboring islands. Other ASEAN countries like Singapore and Hong Kong stage racing events for this water sport.
Organizers also held a press briefing and OC6 paddle clinic attended by PBSP Trustee and Visayas Executive Committee Chairman Jose Antonio Aboitiz, SPC Executive Committee Member Janus Migalbin, and friends from the media.
“We want more people to experience the fun in paddling and racing the OC6 and that is why we are looking for more partners who will help us develop more units,” Budlong shared.
He was the first to introduce stand up paddle boarding in Cebu. He is also responsible for reviving the local Visayan sailing watercraft called the “bigiw.” Aside from conducting annual SUP races since 2014, he also started the annual Bigiw-Bugsay race in celebration of the Ocean month every May.
His team is also one of the major supporters of PBSP in its annual run of the Olango Challenge, an open-water swim organized to build schools for Olango island. Island Buzz Philippines also organizes coastal cleanups using various watercrafts to help promote a clean marine environment in Cebu.
For the OC6, Budlong plans to partner with the Philippine Sports Commission to recognize it as a sport in the country and create a national paddling team for the sport. He also plans to organize an expedition next year from northern Cebu to Iloilo using the ocean canoe and provide paddle clinics to help promote awareness on the sport.
“I really want to develop our own Philippine Paddle Club. Other countries are jumping in to paddle sports, especially ocean canoe paddling, and we are seeing a lot of Filipinos living in these countries, wishing there are crafts that they can practice with when they go home and knowing how beautiful our waters are,” he added.
About Philippine Business for Social Progress
Philippine Business for Social Progress is the largest business-led NGO at the forefront of strategic corporate citizenship and business sector leadership contributing to sustainable development and poverty reduction. Established in 1970, PBSP remains a consultant and partner of choice of companies and donors.
PBSP scales up impact by adopting the Collective Impact strategy to solve large, complex, systemic problems. PBSP organizes Platforms for Collective Engagements (PlaCEs) to ensure alignment and sustainability of initiatives by multiple stakeholders.
Responding to the changing landscape of CSR, PBSP’s brand of corporate citizenship taps into the core business competencies of companies and promotes inclusive business as a strategy. PBSP also continues to strategically engage companies through social investment, responsible business practices, and philanthropy.
PBSP creates sustainable solutions to societal problems in its core program areas which are Health, Education, Environment, and Livelihood and Enterprise Development. It also provides off-the-shelf options for engagement of companies and their employees.
With a proven track record, PBSP provides end-to-end services in development consulting which include project and grants management, events and backroom management.