Women power was on full display in the recent second leg of the Zamboanga Peninsula Open Water Swim Circuit, taking the spotlight in the month of the National Women’s celebration.
Aaliyah Zareena Silapan, a young, rising star in long-distance swimming from Zamboanga City, was tops in the women’s category of the premier five-kilometer swim around the beautiful, pristine Buluan island with a clocking of two hours and 34:26 minutes.
Reigning supreme on the men’s side was Austin John Hampac who had 1:38.33. Ethan Hugh Dacer and Danielle Filoteo topped the 2.5K category in the 2nd leg hosted by the provincial government of Zamboanga Sibugay under the leadership of lady Governor Ann Hoffer.
The 360-degree swim race around Buluan Island, a Hall of Fame awardee as the Best Managed Marine Protected Area, was organized by the Department of Tourism Region 9 and headed by Dara May Cataluna, one of the most revered women leaders in Mindanao.
“We believe that women should be given the same opportunities as men in sports and in all aspects of life,” said Cataluna.
The former councilor of Ipil town said the Zampen Open Swim is part of a noble advocacy to make Zamboanga Peninsula the center of aqua sports tourism, nature conservation, and community development.
The Zampen swim circuit proved to be more than just a competition but also about promoting women’s empowerment.
The groundbreaking event also aims to promote gender equality and encourages women to participate in open-water swimming, an activity that is traditionally dominated by men. The organizers hope to inspire women to challenge themselves and break barriers, both in sports and in society.
The event also has the full backing of the Tourism Promotions Board with Undersecretary Myra Paz Valderosa-Abubakar, who is also a prominent woman leader from Zamboanga City.
Asec Maria Rica Bueno emphasized that they want to reinforce the Filipino Brand of Service Excellence in this kind of tourism event rooted in the 7 M’s of core values that Filipinos are widely known for Malikhain, Makatao, Makakalikasan, Makabansa, Masayahin, May Bayanihan, and May Pag-asa.
Along with the women leaders from the tourism department, Gov. Hoffer vowed to promote Zamboanga Sibugay as a chosen destination for aqua sports and other water activities.
The Zambo Peninsula Open swim competition, managed by the Zamboanga Open Water Swim Association, also hopes to attract more local and international participants in the coming third and fourth legs to be held at the Lake Maragang Mt. Timolan and Dipolog, Zamboanga Del Norte.
Unknown to many, open-water swimming is an Olympic sport. Also known as Olympic Swim Marathon, this 10-kilometer race is held in open water like rivers or sea and was first played in Beijing in 2008. It has been played since then and the next stop would be in Paris next year.
If sustained in the coming years, it will be no surprise that the next Olympian swimmer will emerge out of the Zampen Open Water swim circuit.