MANILA, Philippines — As the long-awaited Palarong Pambansa 2016 officially opened, over 12,000 delegates including student-athletes, coaches and officials from all 18 regions have gathered at Bicol University (BU), Albay, for the opening ceremonies on Monday.
The Department of Education (DepEd), along with this year’s Palarong Pambansa provincial host Albay, formally welcomed thousands of visitors to the games, marking the start of a week-long event in a colorful mix of costumes, flags and banners.
Thousands of delegates paraded along the streets of Legazpi City just before the opening ceremonies, eventually coming together at the BU grandstand.
Municipality of Daraga Mayor Gerry Jaucian welcomed all the guests and delegates of the Palarong Pambansa 2016, expressing his gratitude for the substantial number of delegates and supporters.
This year, supporters of the student-athletes swelled the total number of Palarong Pambansa guests of up to 17,000 people.
Jaucian said that the Palarong Pambansa 2016 is an avenue to foster partnership and camaraderie among the regions.
Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal likewise welcomed all the delegates and guests to Legazpi City, “the city of fun and adventure.”
“Sports and education are instrumental in transforming our communities,” Rosal said, expounding on the theme of the Palarong Pambansa 2016.
With the theme: “Transforming Communities, Transcending Through K to 12,” DepEd aims to promote physical education and sports as an integral part of Basic Education for a holistically-developed youth that is responsible and globally-competitive.
In his welcoming remarks, DepEd Region V Regional Director Fiel Abcede said that “the path to being an athlete is a difficult path but your participation in Palaro is already considered as an achievement.”
Abcede also asked the participants and supporters to be on the lookout for inspiring student-athletes who are equipped with brilliance and skill.
“During your stay here in Legazpi, you will feel the warmth of the people of Albay,” Abcede said.
Davao del Norte Governor Rodolfo Del Rosario and DepEd Region XI Regional Director Alberto Escobarte turned over the Palarong Pambansa banner to Albay Governor Joey Salceda and Abcede.
For his part, Salceda thanked DepEd Secretary Armin A. Luistro FSC “for being the most revolutionary leader because he pushed for the K to 12 Program that will benefit our children.”
“Why do we hunger for these games? Because we have to qualify our children with the daunting task of nation building,” he said.
Salceda expressed that the games require teamwork, parallel to the nature of nation building, which requires working with stakeholders and partners.
“We appear to be chasing medals, but we are actually chasing dreams,” he said.
“We are teaching our young ones that competition is better when rules apply to everyone and when the playing field is leveled,” he added.
On behalf of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Luistro also welcomed and congratulated all the delegates this early.
“Tiwala tayo sa tagumpay ng Palarong Pambansa 2016. Malay ninyo, katabi niyo na pala ang susunod na Lydia de Vega,” he said.
Luistro added that “Ngayon palang binabati na ko na ang mga manlalaro… saludo po ako sa inyong lahat. Patuloy kayong maging inspirasyon.”
Palarong Pambansa 2016 will run from April 10 to 16, 2016. A total of 18 regions are joining the games this year, with the addition of the recently-established Negros Island Region.
It will be participated by elementary and secondary students from public and private schools nationwide.
The elementary level will compete in 15 games, while the secondary level will compete in 17 games and four demonstration sports: Futsal, Wushu, Billiards and Wrestling.
This year’s event will determine whether these four demonstration sports should be included as regular games in the succeeding Palarong Pambansa events.
One of many the highlights of the Palarong Pambansa is the special games for children with special needs. These include athletics, swimming, goal ball and Bocce —a ball sport closely related to bowling.
Student-athletes with special needs are given the chance to be scouted and compete in the games of the Palarong Pambansa. PNA/northboundasia.com