Quirino is a landlocked province with Aurora to its southeast, Nueva Vizcaya to the west, and Isabela to the north.
It boasts of an attraction that has been making waves—literally—in the rise of water sports in the province.
Aptly called Quirino Water Sports Complex, the two-hectare facility is the first and only full course wakeboarding park in the region and in the northern part of the country. It is a wakeboarding haven for locals and tourists alike.
First opened in 2007, the provincial government-owned and managed site is located in Capitol Hills in the municipality of Cabarroguis. It boasts of a 9.5-hectare full-size cable park with a 450-meter wakeboard cable on a 2.5-hectare lagoon and a 250-meter deck area.
There’s a winchpark for beginners, too, which features a 100-meter cable on a 3,000 square meter lagoon.
Its facilities include a 251-square meter deck area, an infinity pool, a two-story pavilion, function rooms, a multi-purpose hall, a restaurant, an adjunct hostel, and guest villas. These are so well-built that the complex successfully hosted a national wakeboarding competition pre-pandemic.
Some parts of the facilities were funded by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) of the Department of Tourism through the initiative of its local government.
Eric Pagulayan, a trainer at the complex, can attest to just how conducive the place is for wakeboarding.
With 20 years of experience and a competitor of the sport, Pagulayan wakeboards at the complex himself.
“It helps keep me fit and strong for my job as a staff here,” he says. “It’s fun to wakeboard here, too, especially when I unlock tricks that I haven’t done before.”
The facility is just as favorable for visitors who have never tried wakeboarding. The experience begins with a briefing.
“Before a visitor can even step on a wakeboard, we ask them if they have any physical condition that could put them at risk when doing extreme activities,” Pagulayan says. “We then tell them all guidelines for safety before proceeding to do a demonstration.”
The visitors are then given a life vest and helmet, and are encouraged to go on a test run for the trainers to accurately assess the guest’s riding ability.
Here, the rider stands on a short board with foot bindings and is towed by a cable across the body of water. These combined techniques are typically used in water skiing, snowboarding, and surfing in one activity.
For beginners, Pagulayan says it’s important to keep the knees bent as the cable begins to tow the rider and hold this crunched position before slowly standing up.
“Regardless of the rider’s claim, we never let them wakeboard without knowing their actual riding capability and how they handle cable tension,” Pagulayan says. “Through these test rides, we also see beginners who do better than expected so we can adjust our guidance accordingly.”
The 38-year-old wakeboarding expert recommends a two-hour session for beginners. For an hourly rate of Php200, that’s Php400 in total.
“A one-hour session will only make guests wakeboard as much as they can to make the most out of their time,” Pagulayan explains. “A two-hour session, however, allows the guest to get ample rest in between rides and learn better.”
But learning how to wakeboard is highly dependent on one’s balancing ability.
“It’s the real challenge in wakeboarding,” Pagulayan says. “Once you get the balance right, you can move on to do other things like mid-air tricks using ramps and rails.”
Pagulayan considers wakeboarding as an extreme sport, which is why it’s important to ensure the safety of the riders, regardless if they are beginners or experienced.
Maximum of 12 riders can wakeboard at once but only if they are experienced. If the majority are beginners, however, only six are allowed in the water.
Guests are typically not allowed to wakeboard past 5 PM or when it’s beginning to get dark out.
“We stop the activities when there’s no light anymore because we can’t monitor them properly,” Pagulayan says. “We do it for the safety of the riders.”
Though a life vest and a helmet are provided, a first aid clinic is open within the complex, and its medical staff and an ambulance are always on standby for any untoward incident. All staff, including lifeguards, are also trained.
“Our lifeguards are always looking out for wakeboarders,” he adds. “They know immediately when an accident or a fall is bad.”
For families visiting the wake park, kids are allowed to try wakeboarding. Pagulayan, however, recommends the activity to children six years old and above who know how to swim.
To further ensure smooth and secure operations, regular maintenance work is done, too.
“Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings, we check the cable, and the carrier or the metal tubes that can hook up tow ropes with riders, if there are any damages,” he says. “We’ve also stocked up on parts for replacement, whenever needed.”
For those who are not yet ready for thrill-filled wakeboarding sessions, they can still enjoy water activities like kayaking. The experience allows guests to enjoy the lush greenery surrounding the area, and a view of the morning sun or the sunset, all while sitting down on a kayak and paddling.
There’s a separate area just for kayaking but just like wakeboarding, visitors are provided life vests and other safety gear.
The best part is that it’s free of any charge.
Ready for tourists
Without visitors, Pagulayan says the water at the complex has been rather calm.
All seven wakeboard experts—fully vaccinated—are more than ready to welcome back tourists even in limited capacity.
“We are excited for more wakeboarding action within the complex,” Pagulayan says.
Wakeboarding activity is part of the tourism circuit called Quirino: Your Basket of Happiness!
All tourist destinations in Quirino have health and safety protocols in place to protect locals and visitors alike. Everyone is expected to comply by wearing face masks, regular handwashing, and practicing physical distancing.
To check out up-to-date information regarding local destinations that are open and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel, Apple Store, or Google Playstore.