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With the reopening of Boracay, local and foreign tourists are again setting their sights on the world-renowned island in Aklan province.
The Christmas holidays and summer breaks are expected to draw a horde of visitors who are curious about Boracay’s rehabilitation after its closure last April.
Aside from the sights, tourists flock to Boracay to experience different activities including helmet diving, island-hopping, parasailing and scuba diving.
One of the activities gaining popularity is kiteboarding.
In the Philippines, kiteboarding has grown into a fairly popular sport and an attraction for tourists visiting the islands and beaches.
November to April is said to be the best time to kiteboard in Boracay’s Bulabog Beach. There are athletes who excel in the sport and who compete here and abroad.
One of them is 17-year-old Red Bull athlete, Christian Tio.
His inclination to the sport is natural, because he’s the son of professional kiteboarders Chris Mohn and Liezl Tio.
What is surprising is that he actually didn’t like the sport at first. He fell in love with it only when he started training regularly and gradually improved.
He is currently home-schooled, which gives him more time to focus and get better at the sport.
Last October, Tio won a silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was a doubly memorable experience because he happened to be the only Filipino to bring home a medal.
What made his win more historic was that it was the first medal credited to the country’s National Olympic Committee in this sporting event.
Kiteboarding is a wind-powered sport similar to wakeboarding, except that it involves a kite.
An all-in-one sport, it mixes elements of wind-powered and water-powered sports—wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding and sailing.
Tio said the kiteboarding community in the Philippines is quite small and spread out—mostly in Boracay, Palawan and Manila.
He revealed the difficulty of training for the games at the time of Boracay’s shutdown. He had to leave the country to train in Italy and the Dominican Republic.
But he also practiced in Lake Caliraya, Laguna.
Following his triumph at the Youth Olympics, he is preparing to join the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. He also wants to draw more attention to kiteboarding in the Philippines.
For people interested but hesitant to get into kiteboarding, his advice is not to be afraid to try it because it’s a fun and safe sport—although having strong legs helps, for balance.
Since the Philippines is an archipelago, kiteboarding has a good potential to be widely popular among Filipinos.
It would be great to see more athletes joining Tio in future kiteboarding competitions.
Photography Jerick Sanchez
Styling Luis Carlo San Juan and Luis Mendoza
Grooming and Hairstyle Sari Campos