Wake Up, Philippines!

It’s ‘Camsur’–and it rocks

Posted in Resort and Park, Rest and Liesure, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on July 16, 2009

By Tessa Prieto-Valdes
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 19:55:00 06/27/2009

THE TRUTH is, in many respects, Camarines Sur is just like any rice-producing province with decent beaches and mountainous landscapes. Most foreign visitors will opt to visit Boracay, Bohol or Cebu before considering this little-known province in the southern tip of Luzon.

But when the name is shortened, suddenly Camsur rocks!

What’s all the fuss about Camsur? It seems one dynamic man has put his province on the world map of wakeboarding. Camsur Governor LRay Villafuerte built the Camsur Watersports Complex, the world’s most modern, six-point cable ski system designed for wakeboarding, wakeskating and waterskiing – and things have not been the same.

Coupled with restaurants, sand bars, a spa, pro-shop, watersports park and a new skateboard park, Camsur is now among our Top 10 local tourist destinations. CWC offers wakeboarding for beginner riders to professional wakeboarders who come from all over the world. Riders can even enjoy the park at night, thanks to bright spotlights that keep the action going until late.

One of my summer highlights was joining the Tour of Hope Bike Festival’s last leg in Camsur. To raise awareness for cervical cancer, I completed the 90K bike tour around the different cities of Camarines Sur, ending in CWC with a shower of flowers from family and supporters.

Since my kids were invited to check out the new skateboard park at CWC, we timed our vacation to coincide with the bike tour. We took PAL Express from the new Naia 3 terminal, so even the flight started off as a pleasant experience. PAL Express’ Marivic Agustin was very helpful in finding an additional seat for my nephew Francis Fernandez, since the flight was quite full.

Governor LRay was also with us on the flight, so we got the fiesta welcome once we landed. A stream of banners, including one for me, was on display at the entrance of CWC.

The park was alive with activity because of the week-long Kaogma Festival. After settling in, the young boys went to the skateboard park while the rest headed to Lago del Rey, a giant, manmade lake with wholesome family watersports entertainment including giant water slides, aqua wall climbing, water polo, water volleyball, kayaking, aqua obstacle course, paddle surfing, boat-towed wakeboarding and skiing, dragon boating and, of course, pure and simple swimming.

And when the kids are done with the water, there’s WiFi to keep them connected.

Fun park, fun ride

The ultra-fun water park was the perfect relaxation activity before my 90-K bike tour, using my new, custom-made, pink bike that Bike Town Cyclery made for me. With generous pledges that totaled over P200,000, I was determined to finish the fun bike ride in my signature pink tutu. The ride was organized by Bravehearts and Cervical Cancer Prevention Network Alliance of the Philippines (Cecap).

Tour of Hope 2009 spanned 500 kilometers from Muntinlupa to Camarines Sur. This year’s theme is “XXX: Dare to Be Bold.” The triple X has nothing to do with the sex, lies and videotape scandal. It stands for “Xpose the truth, Xceed your Limit and Xclaim Your Right to Life.”

Major sponsors were GlaxoSmithKline, Bravehearts, SM, Maldita, David’s Salon, Personi-fi, Cecap, Cancer Institute Foundation (CIF), Creative Juice, Campaigns PR and Gold’s Gym.

I was more focused on the lens of master photographer Jun de Leon. He was covering from the start with his hunk nephew Miguel de Leon, who charmed all the lady bikers including Veron Medina of GSK.

Photo exhibit

Jun de Leon’s exhibit, “Hope for the Flowers,” will showcase the photos he took throughout the tour and of some cancer survivors. The opening will be this July 15 at the SM Mall of Asia. Do try to catch the exhibit, which runs until July 20.

My biking skills are totally mediocre, so David Charlton was helpful enough to allow me to draft behind him. Since it was not a race, we took breaks for photo sessions and regrouping.

The locals were so friendly cheering us on. Some even recognized me from “Celebrity Duets.” We passed some beautiful old churches and beaches. The views were quite panoramic, like an Amorsolo painting.

At the awarding party, Doctor Cecilia Llave, program director of Cecap, thanked all who participated and invited them for next year. She stated the many women who benefited through the five-day workshops and clinics.

Check out http://www.thetourofhope2009.multiply.com for all the details.

Governor LRay also invited me to be a judge at the Miss Kaogma beauty pageant, where we selected Miss Camsur. The contestants were not only gorgeous but also quite intelligent. Maybe the First Lady of Camsur, Lara Villafuerte, helped polish the contestants’ skills.

I was so impressed with the beautiful gowns by their local designers. After the pageant, I purchased the second runner-up’s gown, a winning pink, voluminous number by Rommel del Valle of Iriga City.

Just when we had our fill of Bicol’s specialty, laing, we were headed back home. We brought home loads of candied sesame seeds, pili nuts, abaca bags and frozen laing. Aside from all the activities inside CWC, we will surely go back to visit the deer farm and hot water springs.

Ironman competition

That return trip is just around the corner, as the Cobra Ironman 70.3K is being held at the CWC on Aug. 23. Sponsored by Cobra Energy Drink, Timex, Oakley, Globe and the Department of Tourism, the event is causing great buzz among local triathletes.

Over 300 participants from 20 countries are expected to try and finish the 1.9K swim, 90K bike and 21K run, the first full-fledged, half-Ironman to be held in our country.

Local heartthrob Fred Uytengsu, who is CEO of Alaska in his spare time, will be leading the charge for the locals. My hubby Dennis and I will be joining, too. I’m already deep in training for the event, while poor hubby doesn’t have a bike or running shoes, so he will just do the swim leg among 25 teams joined in the team competition.

But the real names to watch out for are international tri stars like Chris McCormick of Australia and Lisa Bentley of Canada. Those are the guys who will put Camsur on the Ironman world map.

E-mail the author at seaprincess@inquirer.com.ph


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