Joining the Filipino Dragons Singapore (FDS) ensemble is like succumbing to natural “trichotillomania” (a psychological condition that involves strong urges to pull one’s hair relentlessly). Newbie sessions are always pain in the a**, but you can’t help it… you just want to keep coming back for more.

By now, you might be already aware that I’m not a big fan of anything that involves baking my skin under the sun; more so if it involves breaking my spinal cord due to excessive boat paddling. But hey, my first dragon boat training session was actually quite a pleasurable experience.

Filipino Dragons Singapore (FDS) at Kallang River - Newbie Session
Filipino Dragons Singapore (FDS) at Kallang River – Newbie Session

That Saturday afternoon was surprisingly breezy and the moss-colored Kallang River was placid and easy to manoeuvre. I told myself before hopping in the boat: “once you’re in it, you’ll be stuck there for at least one fudging hour.” No turning back son, despite the nausea and aching arms. Of course, courage won over my initial agitation.

Paddles up! – Every time the boat captain signals the start of the series of rows, I take a hundred inhales and muster all the energy I have in order to complete the required number of strokes per lap. Not all my strokes were good; some were just right and some were rather idle. My name was called out a couple of times as I needed to consistently pull my paddle with my right hand a bit higher. We were divided into two sides; and sitting on the left side of the boat as instructed by the seniors didn’t help either as it wasn’t my stronger side.

Whenever I lose the rowing rhythm due to exhaustion, I unconsciously hit the side of the boat with my stick, and sometimes even hitting the stick of the person in front of me. As our boat glides forward, splashes of water keeps slapping my face from time to time especially when I miss the beat and my stick smashes the small ripples accidentally.

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Filipino Dragon Singapore Boat

I use our five-minute breaks in between paddles to be listless and to just admire the beauty of the Singapore skyline from a different standpoint: while afloat on a boat. The experience was rewarding and the sight was obviously beguiling. During these moments, I felt really in the zone.  

Filipino Dragons Singapore Newbie session stretching

I felt a sense of fulfilment after the first session and was already gearing up for the next one. But little did I know, bam, I got kicked out. You heard it right. No more “next session” for me. Unfortunately I missed just one session prior to this (out of the four newbie sessions) and the seniors decided to just pull me out along with others who didn’t complete either Session 1 or 2.

Oh well, there’s always a next one I guess. I’m already looking forward to the new batch in April. I hope to complete sessions this time around. Wish me luck!


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About Author Paolo Avis

Living abroad for more than half a decade now, Paolo works in Singapore as a sales and marketing manager for a luxury travel publication. His creative urges can’t always be contained, hence photography, video documentaries, and blogging are his go-to forms of artistic release. Since he didn’t get to pursue TV production after getting a degree in Communication, Paolo now turns to Random Republika as an outlet to keep himself updated and to share his thoughts on what’s happening in showbiz and beyond. Follow his other stories via Instagram (@bigbluefish).

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