Tag Archives: Manila Dragons

nbhd watch by Victor Platon

Knowing your status need not be a lonely experience

As the Manila Dragons prove, having friends around make a petrifying task bearable

Scary undertakings can become less petrifying when done with friends.  Just take a look at Frodo and Sam embarking on their journey to Mordor, or Dory and Marlin crossing the vast blue ocean to find Nemo. With the Philippines registering the fastest growing rate of new HIV infections in the Asia-Pacific, getting tested to know your HIV status can be a daunting task.  But, as proven by the Manila Dragons dragonboat rowing team, it need not be.

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The team, committed to advocating holistic health and wellness, partnered with local HIV-advocacy group, Love Yourself, to encourage its paddlers to learn more about HIV, and know their status. “Approximately 80 percent of Manila Dragons identify as LGBT, and with this demographic as one of the most vulnerable to HIV, it was natural for us to mobilize our teammates to get the proper information from the right experts,” shares Eric Bane, team captain of the Manila Dragons Men’s Crew.

And learning about HIV—myths about it, how it is transmitted, and how to prevent it—as conducted by Love Yourself volunteer counselors was not only informative, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Getting your HIV test done with people you are close with, such as your teammates and friends, made for the lighthearted atmosphere. It also strengthened the team’s bond.

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Paul Velasquez, Manila Dragons liaison officer notes, “Knowing your status through rapid HIV screening is a unique way for Manila Dragons to face social issues head on. We are also able to show responsibility as a team, and set an example to others in the community we play in.”

With just a few drops of blood, and a little over fifteen minutes of waiting period, paddlers from the Manila Dragons knew their HIV status. And it’s always comforting to know that you have a teammate and a friend beside you whatever the result may be.

Photographs by Karlin Villasis

ALL PHOTOS WERE TAKEN WITH THE SUBJECTS’ CONSENT. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW YOU OR YOUR FRIENDS CAN KNOW YOUR STATUS FOR FREE, VISIT LOVEYOURSELF.PH OR CALL 0927-892-6611 AND 256-9384. COMPETENT VOLUNTEERS WILL BE THERE TO EDUCATE AND ASSIST YOU IN THEIR UNIQUE AND ENTERTAINING WAY.
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Victor Platon
Victor Platon may wear many hats—he is a development worker, a digital consultant and editor-at-large for an independent gay magazine. But like a true kween, he never takes off his invisible crown. He paddles in the not so dirty waters of Manila Bay four times a week.
wellness by Alyssa Castillo

Start Something: Dragon Boat

Learning to move as one has reaped benefits in and out of the water for the Manila Dragons

It’s the break of dawn on a Sunday morning and most of Manila is still asleep. But the members of the Manila Dragons are already wide awake, ready for rigorous training at 5:30 am.dragon-5One of the pioneering dragon boat teams in the Philippines, the Manila Dragons has been around since 1991. The group prides itself for being hardworking and disciplined, contributing to the country’s growing reputation as being one global force in the sport. Our national team has won multiple championships competing against the likes of China, Canada, the US, and European nations throughout the years. Through this growing competence and popularity as well as word-of-mouth referrals and social media, the Manila Dragons have also increased in number.dragon-6The team’s profile today is very dynamic. From former athletes, cancer survivors, teenagers and seniors citizens, students and corporate executives, gay and straight, the group is a melting pot of sorts. With such diversity, overall team manager Gelo Cimagala and liaison officer Paul Velasquez claim that there’s not a hint of discrimination in this family. They welcome anyone regardless of fitness level because they believe that anyone can cope with the training; it just takes time, adjustment, and patience to get everyone to the same level.dragon-10“There are no superstars in this sport,” Cimagala says. It doesn’t matter how strong you are because what counts is how you row and move as one, with the same goal in mind. Velasquez likes the fact that everybody in the team for having a sense of community and espousing the behavior of helping each other become stronger every training day.manila-dragons-6Their main gurus are Agot Dequilla, a SEAgames-level frontiersman, and Sid Isidro, a member-coach of the national team coach. For their land training, which is integral to getting better at the sport, they have JC Santos, a certified high intensity interval training (HIIT) to improve their stamina.dragon-9As a sport, dragon boat gives you that level of discipline you can apply to your daily life. It’s not just about making it to training on time, it’s also about dealing with a diverse set personalities that will help you understand others more. You become competitive, but you are fulfilled at the same time because you are trying to achieve a goal together; realizing that not everything is about you is a universally satisfying and productive lesson.dragon-7And, in starting every training early in the morning, the sport builds you a strong base you can stand on for the rest of the day, a foundation that gets you through every and any difficulty.dragon-8Photography by Renzo Navarro
Art direction by Mags Ocampo
Special thanks to Victor Platon

YOU CAN FIND MANILA DRAGONS ON INSTAGRAM AT @MANILADRAGONS AND ON FACEBOOK.COM/MANILADRAGONSTEAM. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT MANILADRAGONS.COM

 

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Alyssa Castillo
Alyssa Castillo is a freelance writer and is concurrently Rogue Media's Editorial Assistant for The NBHD. She reads for fun, writes for a living, and wastes too much time entertaining the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. Find her on Instagram as @lysscstll.