While most people in Penang were still sleeping and curling up in beds last Saturday morning, my wife, Tina, our 6-year-old son Gabby and I were already on our feet to the bus stop at few minutes after 6AM. The reason was simple : to get a glimpse at the 32nd Penang International Dragon Boat Festival held in Teluk Bahang Dam.

I initially considered sleeping with my family in a cheap hotel in George Town to be up and early at the rowing site but Tina vetoed the idea; I surrendered to her choice.

I never expected that we would have a long hike getting to the venue.

Although it took us only few minutes to be at the jetty after hopping to the bus from our place in Butterworth, we’ve waited around half an hour for the bus to arrive and spent another 30 minutes for the ferry to arrive in Penang Sentral that will take us to George Town; note that the usual ferry trip takes around 12-15 minutes (Why ride the ferry? We’re staying in mainland Penang where our work site is and “the life” is in Penang Island so whether you own a car or you commute, either way, you still have to cross the bay via ferry–for both vehicle owners and commuters or take the long Penang Bridge).

We had another bus ride from George Town to Teluk Bahang; it’s Rapid Bus 101 that took us there for almost an hour. Now you can do the math computing for our travel time! It was almost 9AM when we got off the bus and immediately bought some chilled bottled water at the convenient store within a gas station. Oh, and by the way, we went there with fellow colleagues, Dr. Y and Dr. C.who are also photo-enthusiasts.

Dr. Y : “One kilometer na lang daw iyong dam, lakarin na lang natin! Kaya ba nyan (referring to my son)?”  (It’s still 1 km to the dam, let’s just walk; is it OK for Gabby?)

Me : “Sure!”

And my simple honest nod to his question took us for that unexpected morning hike.

After passing by Penang Butterfly Farm which we haven’t been to, we had that unforgettable almost 45-minute-uphill-walk to the dam. (You might think we could have taken a taxi cabs but ‘teksi’ here in Penang require to be contacted by SMS or phone call if you’re not riding it from their stations; or we could have hopped onto another bus but it would take another hour for us to wait).

We walked though this long and winding road…. Tina and I are just proud of Gabby; he took his steps through it with less complaints.

Believe it or not : Our 6 year old son, Gabby walked with us through this uphill road enroute Teluk Bahang Dam; it was almost 2 km long!

It was a good relief when we finally saw the dam…

the bridge to the Dragon Boat site with the view opposite Teluk Bahang Dam.

The 2-day-competition held June 11-12, 2011 had entries from Guam, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Macau, UAE, China, Malaysian states like Kedah, Perak, Selangor and Penang of course but Tina and I had our widest smiles when we heard the name of our country, the Philippines who, at the time of our arrival at the site was already rowing at the preliminaries.

Guess who competed for The Philippines…

 Me to Tina :  “Tanggal pagod nang marining ko ang  “in lane….The Philippines!”  (My fatigue was nothing after I heard, “”in lane….The Philippines!”)

Unlike in other foreign cities, there is rarity of Filipinos in Penang so understandably, it’s nice to see and meet Filipinos, more so if they’re here to represent our country.

Photo-op : Gabby with a DLSU-Philippines-Dragon Boat Team member

After the DLSU-Philippines finished 3rd at their first row before the official Opening Ceremonies…

we  caught them having their much needed-stretching…

then had their cheer for victory…

Animo! ... As DLSU-Philippines Dragon Boat Team puts it, For Synchronicity, Strength and Speed!

Meet some of the foreign and local Dragon Boat rowers…

Singapore! See you in 2 months time...

Nice to see varied colors of uniforms!

The 32nd PIDBF had Standard Boat and Small Boat Races of 250meters and 500meters, with Open, Women and Mixed categories.

"row, row, row your boat gently down the stream..."

But wait, our beloved Philippine flag was displayed upside-down, gera ito! (means war!) 🙂 Had it not for our colleague, Dr. Y who told the people there to fix our banner, it would have been in the air for two days wrongly.

Universe, the blue part of our flag should always be on top of the red, get it? Otherwise, it means WAR!

As a beginner in violin, I was so impressed at these Chinese youngsters who played at the Opening Ceremony that was done at 10AM, their band played upbeat pop songs fit for the competition.

At around few minutes past 10, we decided to leave the event while our colleagues, Dr. Y. and Dr. C stayed until 5PM. According to them, DLSU-Philippines Dragon Boat Team placed 1st in one of the races that day, congratulations!

It was fun watching people…

reminds me of a local teeny-bopper TV soap, "Tabing-Ilog" hehehe

Luckily, as we walked down the road, there was an empty taxi cab that passed by, so it saved our legs and feet in going back to the bus stop.

Although admittedly, we were fatigued from the event, we never regret our decision of attending it. As Tina and I witnessed how Gabby was strong-willed to finish the hike with us (as if he had other options!) and for being exposed to friendly competitive sports, I was reminded of the fact that if you really want something (like success in any task, or a glorious win),

there are a ton of ways to do it, but otherwise, you’ll just offer reasons to make up for not trying.


PS : While on the Rapid Bus 101 going to Gurney Mall from Teluk Bahang, we figured out it’s a perfect time to freshen up and try another wonderful lunch buffet!   *burp*   –>here’s our dining experience at G Cafe in G Hotel, Penang



  1. Noon ko pa gustong manood ng dragon boat fest. Laging tinatamad, pero dahil sa post mo, I wouldn’t miss the next fest dito sa UAE. Nakakatuwang makita yung Philippine team. 🙂

    1. it was our first time to watch such event and we’re glad we went to the event.
      yup, nakakatuwa at nakakatangos ng ilong makita ang Philippine Team sa ibang bansa!

  2. Your blog is so heartwarming. I understand the DLSU dragon boat team went to Penang at their members’ own expense just to represent their school. They trained hard to give glory to their school and to God unmindful of the cost.

    1. welcome to my humble site, ms. tes and thank your kind words.
      we salute the DLSU DBT for representing the country and with this, comes my prayers that our government would support such endeavors.

      mabuhay ang DLSU-DBT! 😀

  3. Hi docgelo, I learned about the dragon boat festival from the Facebook account of Georgetown, Penang. Andun din pala kayo hehe. Ang galing ng DLSU Dragon Boat Team! Go Al Salle, este La Salle heheheh.

  4. May I quote what you wrote earlier. “Although admittedly, we were fatigued from the event, we never regret our decision of attending it. As Tina and I witnessed how Gabby was strong-willed to finish the hike with us (as if he had other options!) and for being exposed to friendly competitive sports, I was reminded of the fact that if you really want something (like success in any task, or a glorious win),

    there are a ton of ways to do it, but otherwise, you’ll just offer reasons to make up for not trying.”

    What you’ve done will surely leave a big impact on your son’s mind. Later in life he will pick up the values you try to teach him by your actions.You are good models for him. Kudos to both of you!

  5. clap clap for gabby [and for you and tina also]…exercise din yun! 🙂

    i know the feeling na makakita ng kababayan abroad…and tourist pa ako nun ha! he he! also, i’ve never seen a dragonboat race. sana one of these days makapanood din ako.

  6. By the way, I can’t help to tell you that DLSU DBT were the champion in two categories, 250 m and 500 m under 23 age group. 🙂

  7. By the way, I heard from the drummer of DLSU DBT that they got 2 titles: both 1st place in 250 m and 500m under 23 year-old category.

    1. i was emailed by penang tourism board before attending the event; so i got the chance to browse the website of 32nd PIDBF and learned that our country has representative. we first thought it might be a team from our navy, but we were impressed that DLSU came all the way from Taft to Penang to row. ang husay!

  8. Buti na lang inayos yung Flag. Kala ko tuloy war ang Penang at Pinas hehehe.

    I saw one dragon boat race when I was in Syd. It was fun and exciting. 🙂

  9. Uy, nice colors of uniforms. I have always wanted to be athletic, yun nga lang, di interesado sa akin ang athletics. Hay naku, ito talagang Pilipinas, laging nasa war.

    1. siguro kung sanay ka na at kasama na sa routine mo ang rowing at stretching and all activities that come with it, wala ng sakit sa kalamnan (ocean deep!); kaunti na lang, 😀

    1. i could have stayed longer alike my 2 colleagues who were there until 5PM and was able to get best captures but i considered tina and gabby.

      the buffet lunch was indeed superb! was so satiating because of the fatigue.

  10. place looks nice doc for this competition. kakatuwa at meron tayong representative. as you mentioned, masaya nga na makita ang mga kababayan sa lugar na konti lang ang pinoy.

  11. It seems like you’re enjoying Malaysia so much that I’m starting to like it hehehe……lucky you! Inggit ako, ganda ng view…ang layo rin ng nalakad nyo, good exercise though ;-P proud of you Gabby, you made it!

  12. congrats to DLSU! and more power to the dragon boat sport in the Philippines (i heard theres an ongoing political conflict). Sayang yan sport na yan – the Philippines always does so well in international races but rarely does it get support. 🙂

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