Boracay Open 2015: An Epic Weekend with an Unfortunate Ending
This article was originally posted on Don’s Blog Lokal Perspective
There are a lot of things to talk about during the recently-concluded Boracay Open 2015 beach tournament. Lots of great moments. Great plays. Awesome displays of SOTG. Lots of good vibes during the 3-day tournament. Here’s what made an impression on me.
Boracay Open has been dominated by the beach kings of Asia, the Boracay Dragons, for 12 years. But this year, the Dragons decided not to be in the running. Instead, they wanted to challenge every team in Pool A to beat their Dubai Open, Mixed, and Masters national teams, and whoever had the best record (including their win/loss record from the other Pool A teams) would have the chance to play for the finals. At least that was my understanding.
The teams from Southeast Asia, Australia, the United States and beyond did what they are supposed to do on the beautiful beach of Boracay: play great ultimate. Massive highlights all over the place. I always shoot two fields at a time when I am out under the sun, and all the teams this year undeniably put on a great show. Such a great treat for an ultimate photographer to witness all of these amazing plays.
The two visiting US teams, Humiliswag and Bangarang, took the top seeds in Pool A, and both played in the finals. Seeing two different teams in the finals of the Boracay Open is a rare thing, but these two American teams deserved to be there and they seriously put on an amazing show of teamwork, highlights, and awesome displays of SOTG. I am still pretty bummed that I didn’t get a chance to witness the end of the game, but I’ll get to that. Congratulations to Bangarang for winning the finals this year!
Boracay Open would never be called the most anticipated beach ultimate tournament in Asia without their well-planned after-parties. The Day 1 after-party at Area 51 was wild. With DJ Tutay in the booth, ultimate players danced the night away to classic hip-hop tunes and dance music. Day 2’s after-party was even more epic.
This year’s Boracay Open was an Ati-Atihan themed tournament. Ati-Atihan is a yearly festival in Kalibo, Aklan in honor of the Santo Nino (Infant Baby Jesus). The ultimate community started their Sad Sad (Street Dance) at Casa Pilar with paints on their faces, headdresses and colourful outfits–some people were half naked, but we’re in Boracay so that’s totally fine! Ati-Atihan warriors and drummers led the way with Ati-ati dance moves and drum beats. They all marched and danced together to Club Summer Place, and everyone was entertained by the club’s DJ Wendell, DJ Ben Yap & James Yap. Whoever has the mic at Club Summer Place, he or she will always be able to pump the discheads up. It was one of the best parties I’ve seen for quite a while. See for yourself!
The ultimate community is by far the best sports community that I have ever been a part of. Yes, we may all have language barriers and other differences, but everyone seems to understand each other on and off the field. Even if I don’t play the game, it feels like the ultimate community considers me as one of their own. This year’s Boracay Open was no exception. The players battled it out like warriors on the field, and then ate their lunch or had a bottle of beer together off the field like family. I photographed Boracay Open for the first time last year, and the only people I knew back then were Karen, Buboy, Sheilamar, and Liza of the Boracay Dragons. I only went to one after-party, only talked to a few folks, and ate my lunch alone. One year later, I never thought that I would have so many friends in the community after just one year of shooting ultimate. The ultimate community is a blessing.
I’ve been sick. Had first degree burns. Been dehydrated. Been hit by discs multiple times. But I had never been hit by an ultimate player as hard as I got hit last Sunday afternoon.
Finals game. Bangarang versus Humiliswag. I saw it coming the moment I saw the disc flying. “I’m totally gonna get hit by this guy” I said to myself. I knew that I was going to get hit by the Bangarang player, but I really wanted to take one more shot of him. But it was too late. The moment I turned my back away from him, everything went dark. I was on the ground, thinking “what just happened?” I was surrounded by ultimate players, but the first thing that I noticed was I couldn’t move my right thumb. It was dislocated. Two words came to my mind: “Oh s#*^!” I immediately grabbed my thumb and popped it back in. “Move, thumb!” and it did. It felt like I got hit by a freight train, to be honest. I had never been hit that hard. It was such a hard hit that the second camera that I have took a picture of the crash by itself.
I tried to shoot a few more frames after the crash, but the camera got heavier and I couldn’t hold it anymore. The pain on my right thumb was unbearable, so I decided to call it a day and went to the medic station for an ice pack. Not shooting the remaining parts of the event really hurts me the most. All I cared about was shooting the Boracay Open from top to bottom. But it was just impossible to finish the job with a broken right thumb. Not to be dramatic, but I was crying inside not shooting the remaining parts of the finals and the award ceremony. But I have full respect and gratitude for all the people who saved my cameras from getting wet. You all were my heroes during that freaky incident. I never had the chance to thank you all for doing that, so I am going to do it now. Thank you all so much for helping me out last Sunday. I truly appreciate your help, making sure that I was okay, and most especially saving the equipment. The broken thumb will heal, but a damaged camera would have taken time for me to save up some cash for repairs or to get a new one. Thank you for saving my beloved babies!
Besides the dislocated thumb and damaged camera battery grip, Boracay Open 2015 was a huge success. KUDOS to the all the organizers, sponsors, and Boracay Dragons for a job well done. Congratulations to all the winners, most especially to Team Bangarang. I hope you guys will come back next year and defend your title. We would love to see you all back again, and to see how you fare with the Dragons in complete lineup.
As for my thumb, it is getting better as we speak. I guess it’s just one of those risks that I have to face when I am on the field in order for me to produce good images and share them with you all. Accidents happen. I love this sport so much, and I will do the best I can to spread the good word about ultimate to the world through my photos.
Hopefully more safely in the future.
Until then… TULOY LANG ANG PARTY!