Kayaking is more fun in the Philippines but the Philippines is also becoming more fun because of kayaking, a group said.
The Philippine Kayak Association (PSA) is banking on the archipelagic nature of the country in its bid to boost the sport through kayak marathons.
"We are surrounded by water that makes it ideal for Filipinos," said Alger Gerale, race director for PSA-organized Anvaya Cove Kayak Series 2013.
"There are lots of trails that are available almost everywhere," he added, citing popular ones in Bohol, Cebu and Davao.
Other kayak trails have also sprung near popular tourist destinations in Bataan, Zambales, Pangasinan, Cavite and Mindoro Oriental.
Kayaking is among the outdoor sports gaining followers in the Philippines, along with cycling and dragon boat riding, Gerale said.
The trend is exciting not only for sports enthusiasts but also for travel afficionados, he noted, adding that even the government is supporting the boom.
"Almost everybody now is into outdoor sports... These are supported by the DOT (Department of Tourism)," Gerale explained.
"[Kayaking] is very promising to develop because through this sport, we are also promoting eco-tourism," he noted.
Gerale cited as an example how Governor Hermogenes Ebdane used kayaking as a vehicle to revive tourism in Zambales.
The venture sparked a mushrooming of kayaking clubs and tours in the province, making the sport relatively accessible to enthusiasts, he said.
PSA has meanwhile been promoting the sport by organizing the Philippine Kayak Series, which focuses on reacreational kayak activities, since 1997.
"Filipinos have a better chance of excelling here compared to basketball, where you need to be tall," Gerale said.
This year's three-leg event, for instance, has drawn the kayaking enthusiasts but also newbies such as Edward and Eagan Tan.
The father-and-son team joined PKS's 25-kilometer marathon in Anvaya Cove Beach and Nature Club in Bataan last June 1 and 2.
"It's just tiring. You can't say it's easy. You can try but you can't say it's easy," the younger Tan said.
Like 21 other participating teams of 2 kayakers, the Tans paddled their way through 12.5 kilometers from Anvaya Cove to Harbor Point in Subic.
After taking a break and stopping for lunch at The Lighthouse Marina Resort, paddlers had to worked their way back to Anvaya Cove.
An average paddler has been estimated to take four hours or less to finish the challenge, but the Tans found themselves overwhelmed.
The father-and-son tandem had to ask the organizers to pull them out of their boats halfway through their way back to Anvaya Cove.
"This is our first time (to join a race because) I am slowly introducing the outdoor lifestyle to him," the older Tan said.
Though the Tans had been unable to finish the race, Gerale said the fact that they joined is already a good sign.
He noted the kayak race in the country is perfect for the likes of Edward and Eagan, who want to explore other outdoor water activities.
Gerale urged beginners, however, to join less difficult kayaking events such as 3-kilometer, 6-kilometer and Crazy 8 races.
But those who want to take kayaking seriously or even professionally, he said, may join 40 to 50-kilometer races in the PSK's second leg in Davao.
Gerale encouraged winners Rodolfo Farrales and Roberto dela Cruz, who finished the race in only three hours and 28 minutes to take on the Davao trail.
"Ang target lang namin ay makatapos ng second o third," Farrales said. But the first-place victory made their trip from Davao Oriental worth it.