The Philippine Beach Games And Its 2024 Edition With Founder JP Demontaño

Philippine Beach Games founder and president JP Demontaño walks The GAME through the PBG and what they expect for 2024.

Imagine this: a flat beach with ample playing space that’s more than just your usual vacation go-to, but is a dedicated venue to play beach sports. 

This was what JP Demontaño and his team envisioned when they established the Philippine Beach Games (PBG). In an interview with The GAME, Demontaño explained that this idea goes back to him and his friends playing different kinds of beach sports themselves.

Sabi ko sige, let’s do something to help promote the sports now and then give them good facilities. So sabi ko eto na nga ‘yon. Kasi laging problema sa beach either slanting or two levels,” recalled Demontaño, the Philippine Beach Games founder and president. 

As far back as 2014, Demotaño shared that he had a “eureka” moment when he saw Lingayen Beach in Pangasinan. While it was “kind of accidental,” the thought of looking for a proper venue not too far from Manila had always been in his mind. 

“It’s a very, very good site to see, the beach was really sprawling. It’s really huge and then flat naman siya ‘no?  So sabi ko nga ito na ‘yung PBG, Philippine Beach Games, pwede nang gawin dito kasi maraming sports na na kasya,” he said. 

But before establishing the PBG, Demontaño and his team had a private trial run featuring the flag football community. And it was from this success that they formally organized the Philippine Beach Games in 2017, beginning with three sports. 

The men and women behind the Philippine Beach Games, including JP Demontaño [leftmost]. (Photo credit: Philippine Beach Games)

Seven years later, excluding the pandemic, the Philippine Beach Games is holding its 2024 iteration, now with 13 sports: beach football, beach volleyball, 3×3 basketball, petanque, flag football, roundnet, korfball, air badminton, beach touch rugby, karate, and indoor rowing. 

From April 19 to 21, these games would be played at the Capitol Beachfront in Lingayen, amid Pangasinan’s annual Pista’y Dayat, or the Feast of the Seas. 

According to Demontaño, Capitol Beachfront is a mix of a “flatland and a grass area, and a baywalk” alongside the main beach area by the sands. The flatland is used as an activity area for concerts and parties, while the beach area serves as the main playing area.

“‘Yung mga sports like cornhole and petanque na ‘di naman nilalaro sa sand pero by the beach siya, and then ayun, parang fan zone siya if you’re aware with the home games of the Azkals, or the Philippine [national football] team,” Demontaño added. 

Fun and inclusive sports as a motivator 

But why participate in the Philippine Beach Games? For Demontaño, it’s all about fun and being able to participate in “inclusive” sports, such as cornhole and petanque. Asked to expound on inclusive sports, Demontaño underscored these can be played across all ages and without any advantage. 

For instance, he noted that a “couch potato” is on equal footing with a triathlete with proper training in a cornhole game. This alone he said, would “get the couch potato out of his couch”. 

“In fact, there are videos of quadriplegics playing cornhole and playing against physically fit and ‘normal’ people. I mean with complete facilities, complete limbs…nagco-compete sila [and] quadriplegic as in putol siya, knee down, elbow onwards, putol ‘yung ano niya but he competes with ‘complete individuals’,” Demontaño explained. 

Petanque is one of two inclusive sports Demontaño promoted among the PBG inclusions. (Photo Credit: Philippine Beach Games)

Demontaño also emphasized the gender-based aspect of inclusive sports, mentioning his experience as a PE instructor handling petanque and disc golf classes at UP Diliman. “It’s not always the males who win. Sometimes the females win against the males,” he shared.

He also explained that the Philippine Beach Games also allows attendees to try out different sports in a non-competitive setting. For this, Demontaño cited “fun games” awaiting at the Capitol Beachfront. 

“For example, petanque, you just hit another petanque boule and you get some prizes. So may mga raffle, may prizes…parang parlor-games na sports-related na parlor games. And then you get to win prizes…and ‘yun, you get to try out different sports also,” he explained.

Outside sports, Demontaño noted that attendees can party with them. “And then since part of the Pista’y Dayat, there are many things happening all over the place,” he added. 

Bigger turnout, improved community involvement for PBG 2024

For PBG 2024 in Pangasinan, Demontaño and the team have high expectations. Besides the 13 sports, around 1,800 participants are expected in Lingayen starting April 19. 

They are also more experienced this year, having handled four prior PBG iterations. Additionally, Pangasinan’s LGU and their sponsors “ably support them”, meaning participants are well taken care of. 

Demontaño also hopes to improve Pangasinan’s community involvement in promoting beach sports for 2024, besides their usual advocacies. According to him, this goal seeks to pay it forward to Pangasinan’s LGU, given their support for the PBG. 

“You play the game, invite people to come here, you are already being sports tourism ambassadors. And that’s what we want to instill in the community there, na huwag niyo [na] kami hintayin, kayo mismo gumawa ng tournaments or whatever, kahit smaller scale lang,” he explained. 

Besides sports tourism, this also ensures a “better tournament” overall. For instance, “Manila-based” sports like flag football or touch rugby will receive added competition, which motivates these said players.

With community involvement, beach sports receive expanded competition. (Photo Credit: Philippine Beach Games)

As expected, this goal is a “work in progress.” Fortunately, Pangasinan has an Arlene Kon-ek, who was part of the Philippine team in the Women and Junior World Petanque Championship in 2023

According to Demontaño, Kon-ek was a first-timer in 2023 who joined PBG’s petanque clinic. Being interested in the sport, she participated, and won their petanque tournament, leading to the national team recruitment. 

“So we’re riding on that na hopefully…but not only petanque. Even the other sports sana salihan nila [ng locals] and magustuhan nila. In fact there was also cornhole, nagustuhan ‘yung cornhole, nagpagawa na rin sila ng boards. So slowly [in achieving community involvement],” he said. 

“But it’s really a work in progress. It’s not that easy kasi to tell people ‘hey play this’ kasi you know naman the Filipino mentality na ‘oh basketball lang alam ko laruin’, ganyan ganyan ganyan. So medyo kailangan rin ng konting push…and we will need the help of the community mismo.” 

But what would be the baseline for a successful PBG 2024? For Demontaño, fun is number one, stressing they should be able to the smiles on players, participants, and guests’ faces. Getting close to 1,800 would also be a testament to PBG 2024’s success, he added.

“And we’re able to provide enough, good facilities. People say na ‘galing ng shower niyo, parang may tumutubo na lang bigla sa beach na ‘to’,” Demontaño said in jest. 

Banner Image courtesy of the Philippine Beach Games on Facebook.

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