Wholly about water

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Monday, April 21, 2014

FOR those who are into paddlesports, there’s nothing quite like it—being afloat in the middle of a vast body of water while one’s whole being connects with nature at its best. It’s a retreat in itself; an adventure that offers intervals of silence.

“Sea kayaking or paddling is a spiritual sport. I feel so alive when I am paddling or sailing out there. Even today, paddling (still) has me surging with excitement like a kid,” shared Erwin Glenn “Buzzy” C. Budlong.

Buzzy, as he is often called by his peers, has been into paddlesports for about 17 years now. Currently, he manufactures SUP Stand Up Paddleboards and Kayaks, and provides SUP, Kayak and canoe paddling clinics, courses, tours, expeditions and aquatic support services.


He also thinks of the whole thing as “paddling tourism,” as he holds sessions for some local government units and private sectors.

“I started paddling with a baruto as a kid with my grandfather in a small coastal town in Calatrava, Negros Occidental, where I was born. When I was 10 years old, my parents brought me here in Cebu,” Buzzy recalled. “Every summer since then, I spent my vacation in my grandparents’ town and I hung out in fishing villages where I could borrow a baruto to paddle.”

The baruto or the Philippines’ outrigger canoe was Buzzy’s “base” for the sport. Buzzy grew into the art of paddling with it, and had a better understanding of the country’s seas, winds and currents.

According to him, backpacking and trekking were growing trends in Cebu around 1997 as he was part of it. Buzzy thought to himself that should a kayaking club be launched in Cebu as well, he would be one of the first to join it as he terribly missed the waters. True enough in 1998, a club was formed and it was called Baruto Paddler.

“The club was organized by Danny Ebrada, Chris Courtney and Antonette Ebrada. They introduced sea kayaking and out of my excitement and curiosity of the paddle craft, I jumped in and it changed the rest of my life,” Buzzy said. He also recalled buying his first sea kayak in 2003 and learning the sport through reading books and watching reliable instructional videos about sea kayaking and navigation.

Fast forward to today, the man is an expert at paddlesports such as: sea kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, white water river kayaking, ocean canoe paddling, river or lake canoeing, white water rafting, surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding and small boat sailing.

It’s definitely a pretty extensive list. But his favorite?

“My favorite among those would be sea kayaking, simply because it’s like journeying for multiple days on unbeaten paths. It can explore shallows, sea cliffs, small passage waterways, islands to rivers. A close second is stand up paddleboading for its level of paddle fitness and versatility.”

This summer, the opportunity to enjoy paddling at its finest is open to everyone.

Thus, Buzzy, who is also behind Island Buzz Philippines (IBP)—a company he founded 2002—is ecstatic about meeting new people who wants to give the sport a go.

“Summer is fun to learn stand up paddling and sea kayaking because of its favorable weather. It’s perfect for everyone since, there are low impact watersports and you can explore the waterways in a safe way with our professionally-trained guides.”

IBP offers basic lessons for stand up paddleboarding, sea kayaking basic paddling strokes, training for advance paddling strokes, marine navigation, racing strokes, guiding, expeditions and instructors course. It also offers paddling tours like, coastal kayaking and stand up paddling, sunset and sunrise paddling, full moon stand up paddling and kayaking, island paddle crossing, stand up paddling and kayaking, snorkeling, multi-day sea kayak exploration.

“The several benefits of paddlesports are the fitness workout one gets, the learning and understanding of nature—wind and waves, tides and currents—sea sense development and survival,” explained Buzzy, readying himself for his next full moon paddling adventure.

For Buzzy, the waters—like this world—pretty much makes up a huge part of his life: a passion, an art form, a crusade.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 22, 2014.


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