Int’l game fishing tournament returns in Siargao

Top winner Santiago Gonzales (fifth from left) during the awarding ceremonies.

By Bernard L. Supetran

Number 13 might be unlucky to superstitious people, but not to organizers of the 13th Siargao International Game Fishing Tournament, which recently revived one of the archipelago’s longest-running angling tilts.

“This tournament is the most meaningful for me. We have not fully recovered but it shows that we are already at 85 to 90 percent in our rehabilitation recovery,” says Pilar Mayor Mari Liza Resurreccion, who pushed for the holding of the sports fishing tourney despite the limited resources brought about by the pandemic and Typhoon Odette in 2021 which destroyed most parts of Siargao.

Last held in 2019, the three-day sporting event drew 31 participants from the Philippines, Japan, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

“This is the first time in the history of gamefishing that the entire nine municipalities of Siargao pooled their resources together just to be able to see this tournament through. I pay tribute to the eight mayors who unselfishly shared their resources just so we can proceed with this much-awaited competition,” she enthused.

The tourney is backed by the municipal governments of Gen. Luna, Del Carmen, Dapa, San Benito, Sta. Monica, Burgos, San Isidro, and Socorro, as well as Claver town in mainland Surigao Del Norte.

Angler Rickson Chiong with his 16-kg sailfish catch.

Local angler Santiago Gonzales of the host town emerged as the grand winner with his gross catch of 102.7 kgs and the biggest catch of a 41-kg blue marlin. He also bagged the P100,000 grand prize under the Biggest Billfish Category while his boatman, Abeth Castillo won P20,000.

Canadian Dave Sharpe topped the biggest trevally category with his 6.7-kilo catch, while Gen. Santos City fishing magnate Marfenio Tan ruled the Biggest Tanguige Category with his 11.4-kilo catch.

The event is presented by the Bagtik Moserbisyo Congressional District Office of Rep. Francisco Jose Matugas II, and sponsored by the House of Representatives, the Department of Tourism (DOT), and DOT Caraga Regional Office.

Former provincial governor and Gamefishing Tournament founder Francisco Matugas emphasized that the event is proof of Siargao’s resurgent tourism industry.

In October last year, the Siargao International Surfing Cup, which is sanctioned by the World Surf League (WSL) Asia Pacific, returned to the popular Cloud 9 surf site in Gen. Luna.

He vowed that local authorities will endeavor the continuity and grander magnitude of future editions of global sporting events in the island.

In photo doing the ceremonial casting of the fishing line during the tournament’s opening ceremonies are mayor Maria Liza Resurreccion, municipal vice mayor Jeasa Gonzales, Rep. Francisco Jose Matugas II, guest of honor Senator Imee Marcos, lawyer Francisco Matugas, and DOT Assistant Secretary Christopher Morales.

Moreover, Rep. Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas of Surigao Del Norte’s first congressional district said that the competition will impact the island’s tourism industry, and will promote responsible fishing to the locals.

The three-term legislator noted that this year’s smaller catch is a wake-up call for authorities to ensure the sustainability of the rich marine resources in the Pacific town.

He noted that foreign competitors stayed at local residents’ homes and helped Pilar townsfolk in their post-Odette rebuilding efforts.