Judith with destiny | The Manila Times

Judith Hakim Secretary-General, Philippine Dragon Boat Federation Dragon boating transforms ‘ordinary’ public servant into an elite ‘world-class’ athlete

Judith Hakim Secretary-General, Philippine Dragon Boat Federation Dragon boating transforms ‘ordinary’ public servant into an elite ‘world-class’ athlete

“When you see the Philippine flag being raised and hearing our National Anthem being played is one of the best moments and feelings. It is our way of giving love to our country through sport. And that’s what we do is our way of life, and it changes a lot of lives for the better.”

SHE is Catholic and her husband is Muslim. But “love conquers all” for Judith Hakim and her better half, Suhod Hakim.

“I am married to a hero and soldier-athlete-coach who has been my best friend for 21 years,” Hakim told The Manila Times. “We have three kids namely Simon, Isaac and Naomi.”

Hakim is an elite athlete and secretary-general of the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation when it was recognized as a National Sports Association (NSA).

“I discovered the sport in the year 2000, and it changed my life forever,” she said.

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“As a recognized NSA, we train and endorse athletes/teams to major sporting events such as the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Championships and World Championships.

In 2005, after winning six gold medals in the SEA Games, we were adjudged as Most Outstanding NSA by the Philippine Sportswriters Association.”

In 2010, however, the Philippine team was denied a chance to compete in the maiden inclusion of the sport in the Asian Games by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), then headed by former Tarlac representative Peping Cojuangco.

Heartbreaking as it was despite the team’s impressive record of achievements in the SEA Games, Asian Championships, World Championships and various international competitions.

“Our sport, despite our appeal to POC, was put under the tutelage of another NSA, the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation in 2011,” Hakim said.

Yet, Hakim’s accomplishments gave her fulfillment through the years, like when she competed in the World Cup in China and World Championships in Hungary.

“When you see the Philippine flag being raised and hearing our National Anthem being played is one of the best moments and feelings,” she shared. “It is our way of giving love to our country through sport. And that’s what we do is our way of life, and it changes a lot of lives for the better.”

Since 2019, Hakim’s day job is with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

“I am happy and grateful for the opportunity to work at DBM,” she said.

She manages to balance her career and personal life.

“Just do both with purpose, passion and honesty,” Hakim insisted. “Do what you love and love what you do.”

During the pandemic, Hakim took it upon herself to make adjustments in her career.

“One of the biggest adjustments was the work-from-home (WFH) set up and the virtual meetings,” she said.

“The ability to deliver service wherever you are. Virtual meetings and WFH set up enabled us to carry on with our tasks.”

Hakim’s first job after college was with Metrobank.

“I worked there for 12 years,” she said. “Then, I shifted to government service at the Philippine Tourism Authority, in particular, under the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving.

“Apart from my regular job, I am a freelance writer. I have also published several editions of various dragon boat magazines.

“My dream is to come up with a book, compete again in the world championships but in the masters category, and of course, as a mom, see my kids become successful and good people.”

She actually wanted to become a lawyer when she was younger. She attended law school at San Beda University for a year and Arellano Law School for a semester. However, Hakim had to stop when she started working at Metrobank.

“I wanted to help my family,” she reasoned out. “I graduated from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines with a degree in Bachelor of Accountancy. I was not able to finish law school studies.

“However, the Philippine Olympic Committee sponsored my special studies as a country representative to the Japan Sport Study Tour and International Olympic Committee (IOC) Asian Women in Sport held in Malaysia. I also completed the IOC’s Management of Olympic Sport Organization.”

Before the pandemic totally disrupted everything, Hakim’s office had a team building activity in Bataan the week before the lockdown.

“Pre-pandemic, I competed with the Philippine Navy Women’s Team in Keelung, Taiwan, and I was head of delegation to the King’s Cup hosted by Thailand in 2019,” Hakim said.

“Post-pandemic, I was invited to send crews to the Swan Boat Races in Pattaya, Thailand, in November 2022, and I accompanied and endorsed the Philippine Army Dragon Boat Team. We also had a women’s crew, Pilipinas Orient Dragons, composed of paddlers from different parts of the Philippines.”

Just over a week ago, Hakim was in Sarawak, Malaysia, for a dragon boating event.

“Last month, I assisted the participation of an all-Mindanao crew, the CGY Oro Dragons, to the Sarawak International Dragon Boat Races.”

Not surprisingly, Hakim admirably manages to balance home and career.

“I love my family, and I also love my work that supports my family,” she admitted.

“I try to upgrade myself not just in sports or other interests but also with my work. I took up a specialist course and passed the qualifying exams. I am also an internationally licensed technical race official for dragon boats.”

She, however, lamented about the “sad condition” of Philippine waters.

“One hindrance why some people do not want to engage in my sport is because of the sad condition of our waters,” she said.

“But of course, not everywhere in the Philippines. Hence, my advocacy is for our environment, particularly regarding conservation and rehabilitation of our water resources. I was country captain for several fun runs calling for water conservation.”

Hakim manages to unwind with her family, her quality moment of spending time with her loved ones.

“We unwind by going out as a family, but the best times remain the simple joy of eating together even just at home or relaxing together by watching a movie.”

Proof that she really loves team sports is her penchant for volleyball. But she is into music and theater as well. “And when I have time, I either read books or write,” she said.

Hakim cannot be any happier that her family is “very supportive and proud” with everything she does or tries to accomplish. Her parents were both former government employees, and she, likewise, tries to emulate them in their parenting ways.

“As a working mom, it means waking up early to prepare meals for my kids and help them get ready for school,” Hakim said. “Then, I report for work Mondays to Fridays. I try to sneak in doing exercise or play volleyball during the weekdays.

“I often jog or walk a good 3 kilometers going home, especially during the pandemic. At night, I include connecting with friends to plan racing events or other projects while juggling mundane mommy duties. Weekdays break the routine, and I make it a point to make out of it.”

quick questions

What is your biggest fear?

Nothing. Feeling siga lang (I just feel tough).

What really makes you angry?

Injustice in whatever form.

What motivates you to work hard?

My family.

What makes you laugh the most?

My own sabaw/lutang (floating) moments.

What would you do if you won the lotto?


If you could share a meal with any individual living or dead, who would they be?

Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Retired from office work, with passive income but still engaged in sports.

What celebrity would you like to meet for a cup of coffee?

LeBron James and bring my son along.

What is the most daring thing you have ever done?

Kayak from Cavite to Corregidor.

What is the one thing you will never do again?

Jump in Kawasan Falls (in Cebu).