If there's any recreational sport and hobby that's environmently-friendly, it's a kayak tour, which is one of the Philippines' most popular outdoor activities nowadays among families and individuals seeking thrill and relaxation in the oceans, seas and lakes that surround the beautiful and scattered 7,000 plus islands.
What's more, kayaking supports the country's extensive tourism campaign that showcases colorful and unique Filipino arts, culture and history to foreign and local visitors the whole-year through.
The Philippine Kayaking Association headed by Val Camara and his wife Didi always see to it that that an eco kayak tour is conducted whenever and wherever an event or two is held.
The couple organizes side trips to places to plant mangroves to save corrals, fishes and water creatures that depend on seagrass for food.
Local residents are also informed to take care of the environment and avoid abusing the seas and its friendly animals like the sea turtles, whales and dolphins that attract people to visit the different islands.
More often than not, foreigners seem to appreciate better what the Philippines can offer in terms of sports, tourism, food, cultural exchange and camaraderie among different countries worldwide.
For instance, Kayakasia's Cher Huey of Singapore who brought with him a 10-man delegation to the recent Canon Power Shot Kayak Explore Anvaya Cove-Subic Bay kayak tour and marathon said if he were to chose a place where a regional double-paddling competition would takeoff, his choice would be the Philippines.
"You have clean waters to race with, biodiversity, endless beautiful places to explore, nice people around and strong Asian cultural link that puts strangers at ease," said the 20-something B.A. social science/ psychology graduate who teaches fellow Singaporeans the basics of kayaking.
Huey, whose family is into kayak boat manufacturing and selling fiberglass kayaks and paddles all over Asia, has been in the sport for the past two years.
"I love kayaking; I believe we who live in Southeast Asia should bond together and make it our regular family and individual event to be anticipated every year," he said.
There is, indeed, a plan for a regional circuit to be hosted by the Philippines in 2011, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and other SEA countries in the following years, according to Didi Camara.
And Huey is trying to learn the ropes from the original kayak tour and race organizers so his country could be ready in 2012 when the key is turned over to them.
Huey and Co. arrived an hour late for the 25 kilometer race due to over-subscribed plane booking. Nevertheless, he and his Filipino partner managed to place seventh with a time of 4:37:14!
The 25K race was won by Alexis Atutubo and Romeo Castro by clocking an impressive time of 3:48:35 while the novice was captured by the amazing mother and son pair of beauty and wellness spa manager Alfie and 10-year old Lance Argana from Cagayan de Oro City with nine minutes 33 seconds.
The Arganas towed along 12 supporters who cheered them on all the way from Subic to Anvaya Cove and Sabang where a lecture on taking care of the environment and sea turtles was conducted.
What matters is Huey and his compatriots enjoyed every moment of their stay in Subic with the local contingent, media and sponsors. There's always a second time around anyway.
What's more, they had the rare chance of kayaking over Subic Bay Freeport in the moonlight with some five brave local souls.
"Gosh, what a great kayak tour and a fantastic experience," he gushed.
Would Huey be better prepared and come back for the 25K title next year? "You bet," he said as he twirled his double-bladed paddle. (PNA/Lily O Ramos)