LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — The 2016 national championships of the Philippine National Games (PNG) will reel off on March 7-11 in Pangasinan with some 2,500 athletes from all over the country, aged 16 to 27, participating.

The PNG was organized by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) in cooperation with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to choose the country’s athletes who will represent the Philippines in the coming Southeast Asian Games (SEAG).

Hosted by Pangasinan province, the national championships will be kicked off by an opening ceremony at 5 p.m. of March 7 at the Narciso Ramos Civic and Sports Center (NRSCC) here, to be graced by Senator Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, chair of the Senate Committee on Sports Development, as guest of honor and speaker.

Senator Angara will be welcomed by Gov. Amado Espino Jr. He will be joined on the stage by Espino, PSC Chairman Ricardo Garcia and POC Chairman Jose “Pepeng” Cojuangco.

Preceding the opening ceremony will be a parade of participating athletes and coaches from the Pangasinan provincial capitol plaza to the NRCSS.

The PSC brought the national sports event to Pangasinan as they were impressed by the leadership of Espino in hosting the Palarong Pambansa in 2012 and other big sports events here like the Luzon Leg of Batang Pinoy in 2013, among many others, said Pangasinan Provincial Sports Coordinator Modesto Operania.

He said the PSC considered Pangasinan’s readiness to host the event aside from the fact that the NRSCC is now the best sporting facility in the country outside Metro Manila.

The athletes and their coaches are set to arrive from March 3 to 4 for registration at the NRSCC Wellness Center while a refresher course is scheduled on March 6.

Meanwhile, a solidarity meeting among technical officials and coaches will be held in the morning of March 7 in the same venue.

Verna Nava Perez, PNG Task Force chairperson, said the athletes and technical officials will be housed at the NRSCC dormitories while the rest of the participants will be billeted in various public schools in Lingayen, except for athletes of the swimming competition who will stay at the San Carlos City Elementary School.

“The province is all set to welcome athletes and coaches who will start arriving on March 3,” Perez assured.

The athletes will see action in 20 PNG sporting events.

Athletics, badminton, boxing and lawn tennis will be held at NRSCC; archery at the Pangasinan National High School; billiards at the Magsaysay Elementary School Gym, Lingayen; chess at the Pangasinan Training and Development Center (PTDC); dancesport at the Sison Auditorium; futsal at the Binmaley Catholic School Gym; judo and wrestling at Bataoil Gym on Libsong East in Lingayen; karatedo at Columban College Gym; lawn tennis at PNP Tennis Center; muaythai and weightlifting at Lingayen Town Plaza; pencat silat at Pangapisan Elementary Schoool Gym; sepak takraw at Baay Elementary School Gym; swimming at San Carlos City swimming pool; taekwondo at Lingayen Central School Gym.

As host province, Pangasinan is allowed to field some 350 homegrown athletes in various sporting events. Leonardo V. Micua/PNA/northboundasia.com