Army to honor dragon boat team

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MANILA, Philippines – Army Chief Lt. Gen. Eduardo Año is set to confer awards Monday to the members of the 22-man Philippine Army Dragon Boat team that won a gold medal during the recent Japan Dragon Boat Championship in Osaka, Japan.

Año will pin the Military Merit Medal to each of the soldier-members of the team during Monday's flag-raising ceremony at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio, acting Army spokesman Maj. Enrico Gil Ileto said.

The team – composed of 20 paddlers, a steersman, and a drummer – won the gold medal after they finished first in the 250-meter Men's open category during the event held July 19 at the Okawa river.

"Truly, another world-class performance that has once again inspired the 85,00-strong Army," Año said of the feat achieved by the team that was founded in 2009 and has since won numerous local and international competitions.

"Our dragon boat team displayed dedication and commitment to excellence, and exhibited discipline and teamwork, qualities that are worth emulating and which the Philippine Army is proud of," said Año.

Ileto attributed the success of the team, coached by S/Sgt. Usman Anterola, to the "arduous training, expert coaching and guidance, the commitment and discipline of each of the paddlers, and the support from the people."

"To stay in shape, the team trains year round, from paddling to exercise at the gym. They also do pool training twice a week at the Philippine Army Wellness Center to help perfect their paddling technique," said Ileto.

"Vigorous regiment of core and aerobic exercise, free weights, and running are also included in their training program," he added.

Ileto also announced the promotion of two senior Army officers to the next higher rank.

Brig. Gen. Gerardo Barientos and Col. Alan Arrojado will wear their new ranks of major general and brigadier general, respectively, during today's flag-raising ceremony.

Barientos, of the Philippine Military Academy class of 1983, is currently the commander of the Army's 1st Infantry Division in Zamboanga del Sur. Arrojado, of the PMA class 1984, is the commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu.