TUSOK BALITA ONLINE - A Publication of the National Darts Federation of the Philippines
    Updated August 12, 2015

97 Dart Teams Conclude Summer Dart Leagues in the Cordillera

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Dart Leagues in the Cordillera are making a major national breakthrough - they are booming, rapidly expanding and vigorously flourishing. Ninety-seven (97) dart league teams with over five hundred (500) darters recently concluded the four (4) Summer Dart Leagues in the Cordillera, organized by the Cordillera Dart Leaguers, Highland Darters, and the Igorot Dart Club. The finals and awarding were held last July with over 120 trophies sponsored by Alfonso I Light.

The four expanding leagues are the Cordillera Dart League (CDL) Baguio with 39 teams; CDL-Trinidad, 14 teams; CDL-Bontoc, 13 teams; and the Highland Dart League with 31 teams for a total of 97 dart teams. Through proper scheduling, the leagues were played in the 9 participating bar-dart venues in the Baguio/Trinidad Area and 3 venues in Bontoc.

All league organizers are dart organizations affiliated with the National Darts Federation of the Philippines (NDFP).  The leagues are supported by the NDFP and its corporate partners – Alfonso I Light, Chris Sports, and Robson Sportscraft.

Historical Background - Dart Leagues in the Cordillera
The dart league in the Cordillera was initiated by NDFP President Tito Soncuya though a series of meetings starting with the dart venue owners in Hodori Restaurant during the 100K Panagbenga Dart Tournament, 2013.  In this meeting attended by the venue owners and venue core players, the concept of the dart league was laid down as an alternative and in response to the growing discontent, disagreements and conflict among venue owners, players, and dart groups.  

Unanimously chosen to organize and start the league was Dagunay Shirley Balabag in coordination with the NDFP.  A final Team Captain’s meeting, led by NDFP Tito Soncuya was held in Cafe Luisa, Baguio City, after the coordination of Shirley Balabag with the participating dart venues and the registration of dart teams. This was where the NDFP league format, rules and regulations and NDFP corporate partner sponsorship were presented and adopted for the 1st Cordillera Dart League.  The CDL started with 25 teams on its 1st season and reached 66 teams after the recently concluded 4th season.  The Cordillera Dart League was introduced this summer in Bontoc in coordination with the Igorot Dart Club.


The Cordillera Dart Leaguers (CDL) is led by Dagunay Shirley Balabag, the current NDFP regional director for Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) and supported by long time darter and tournament director John Lam.  

The rise of the Cordillera Dart League did not happen overnight.  Its introduction was met with skepticism and resistance to change due to the fixation with tournaments. However, through sheer perseverance, patience and hard work, the CDL became a resounding success - thanks to Shirley Balabag whose unifying and diplomatic leadership paved the way for the continuing esteem of dart leagues today.

As proof of its labor, the CDL’s champion team bagged the championship of the 1st Darterong Pinoy Inter-City 4-Person Team in 2014.


The Highland Darters was organized last year by Alex Canilang to help support the growing competitive players of the Cordillera to compete in the national dart tournaments. This proved successful as players from the Cordillera began to be recognized on the national dart scene, especially when Highland darter Nelson Uligan played in the finals of the prestigious Federation Cup. During the 2015 Panagbenga Tournament, the NDFP persuaded Alex Canilang to venture into organizing dart leagues in the Trinidad Valley. Thus the 1st season of the Highland Darters Dart League was born this summer with 31 dart teams.

The Highland Dart League is led by Highland Darters president Alex Canilang, supported by Jonden Oblades. Overnight, Alex Canilang became an ardent supporter of dart leagues. He realized that the dart league is the means to introduce and enlarge the new players into competitive darts and to sharpen and nurture the hard-core competitive players.  Players also discovered the joy and the excitement of dart leagues that even before the summer season has ended, requests for the next dart league are being made.

Impact of Dart Leagues
In 2013, darts in Baguio and Trinidad was growing but disorganized and splintered. As dart venues and dart tournaments expanded, dispute on tournament scheduling escalated among venue owners and organizers. This was further exacerbated by the divergent dart groups in support of their dart venues, national dart organization affinity, and methodology of running dart tournaments. The novice-beginners, dart enthusiasts, and the social darters felt left out as the darting arena is being dominated by the hardcore darters. Even geographical tension began to arise between the Baguio darters vs Trinidad darters due to the disparity in winning tournaments.

The umbrella dart organization in the Cordillera, the Baguio-Benguet Dart Organization (BBDO) by this time has lost its dominance and relevance. No one was setting order to a growing dart environment with new emerging dynamics and stakeholders. The dart community has the potential to self destruct.

Against this backdrop, the dart leagues were able to integrate the different types of dart players from the hard-core, novice-beginners, social players and dart enthusiasts in a competitive and less intimidating environment.  The teams were grouped into divisions based on their current skill level. The problem of the inequity of talents and skills was minimized.  There were more games to play compared to tournaments. The excitement of team competition motivated the players to excel.  Every team has a chance to win.  Bench warmers eventually formed their own teams in order to play regularly and thus the base of players expanded.

The competition and conflict among bar-dart venue owners subsided. The viability and survival of dart venues is secured. They are having continuing dart league activities without the necessary risks of tournaments.

The Cordillera Dart Leaguers and the Highland Darters peacefully co-existed and by default has taken the dart leadership in the Cordillera Autonomous Region. Their common subscription and shared culture to the values and beliefs of the NDFP as affiliated dart organizations made the intervention of the NDFP for resolution of misunderstandings less problematic and acceptable.

This is an ideal scenario where the interaction and interdependencies of stakeholders – players, venue owners-dart organizers converge in a common purpose. This is a fertile ground for the continuing expansion of darts where new competitive players will rise to the challenge of national recognition.  We pray that no disruption to this volatile arrangement among the stakeholders will tilt the balance of harmony and growth.  

The Cordillera Dart Leaguers and the Highland Darters are taking the lead in propagating dart leagues nationwide. They have proven that dart leagues can prosper as a viable addition and alternative to the ongoing weekly tournaments; that the option of dart leagues can lessen the confusion and chaos of simultaneous and conflicting tournament schedules by the various dart groups and venue owners, and that the anchor for growth and expansion of new players are the dart leagues.

Building the Future of Darts through Dart Leagues
The nationwide propagation of dart leagues is a major thrust of the NDFP to expand darts.  The NDFP firmly believes that the growth of darts is through the dart leagues that integrate the social and leisure dart players in a competitive less intimidating dart environment, and where hard-core darters sharpen their skills to compete in the national ranking tournaments. 

The NDFP encourages its affiliated local dart organizations to take inspiration from the leadership of the Cordillera dart leagues in their own communities. Dart leagues can be done and this will perpetuate the cycle of life for darts. Dart league is the last piece of the puzzle to build the mainstream darters and to sustain the growth and interest of all darters from the novice beginners, social and leisure dart enthusiasts and the hard core darters.

To help support the establishment of dart leagues nationwide, the NDFP is launching the Federation Dart Leagues to simply, facilitate and to encourage the NDFP affiliated dart organizations, players, venue owners and organizers to incorporate dart leagues in their locale.  Hopefully we can replicate the success of the Cordillera Dart Leagues nationwide.