CALATAGAN, Batangas: Contrary to what most people know, wakeboarding in the Philippines was first introduced here.
What used to be a prawn farm is actually where the first ever cable park was built.
Opened in 2000, Lago de Oro was conceptualized by Filipino-Australian couple, the Pescis.
“Before 2000, the prawn farm was not doing so well so when we went to Australia and saw a cable park there. My husband thought of putting one up here because it’ll be something new,” said owner Ellen Pesci.
Four years after the park was opened, an annual tournament —billed as Perpetual Cup—was held in response to riders who wanted a venue for some friendly competition.
“It was here in Lago where Gov. LRay Villafuerte of CamSur got the idea of a wakeboarding park. As a matter of fact, his son participated in one of our competitions here,” Ellen said.
JV Borromeo, chairman of Wakeboarding and Waterski Association of the Philippines, is among the original riders of Lago.
“Perpetual is an original idea of Lago de Oro and they wanted to create an event to enhance the idea of this place being the first wakeboarding park in the Philippines,” he explained.
Aside from being the only cable park that uses saltwater, Borromeo said Lago is unique as it offers the best of both worlds—the cable ski and the ocean.
The Perpetual Cup started with only 25 participants, now on its 10th year, more than 100 riders flocked to Lago including 23-year-old Rob from Perth, Australia.
“I’ve been wakeboarding for 14 years now. I started riding here in Lago. This is where everyone started wakeboarding so it’s pretty chill,” he said.
Elaine Tolentino, a 25-year-old rider from Batangas, is competing for the fifth time. When asked how she got into wakeboarding, she replied: “I just tried it, it looked fun, there’s a friendly community…I liked it and I got hooked”.
“Even if they have big cable parks around, we still come back to Lago,” she added.
Seasoned rider Mark Griffin is this year’s champion for the Open Wakeboard Men category. The Filipino-British sports enthusiast started wakeboarding in the 90s.
“I’ve been into watersports since I was very young—waterskiing, knee boarding… in the 90s wakeboarding was a logical transition and it was really exciting because all of a sudden you have access to all these tricks you can do,” Griffin said.
Wakeboarding was developed from a combination of water skiing, snowboarding and surfing techniques. Originally called skurfing, it is said to have been created in Australia and New Zealand in the late 1980s.