BANGUED, Abra — Locals, tourists, and the over 5,000 delegates to the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA) Meet were all in awe as they watched the grand opening ceremony for the region’s grassroots athletic event here in this provincial capital on Sunday evening.
It was like a beauty pageant scene, where participating groups were each given a chance to walk on the runway, hogging the limelight with all eyes and cameras on them as they paraded on the newly refurbished track oval towards the center of the Abra Sports Complex.
After the program deemed by the attendees as fun and exciting, Abra Gov. Jocelyn Bernos told the media in an interview that hosting big events and activities like the CARAA regional meet signifies the locals’ desire to project a better image for Abra, “where there is peace and order.”
“Nagpapakita lang na meron na kaming katahimikan dito sa Abra (this will show that Abra is now peaceful),” she said.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who literally served as an attraction of the event, boosted the excitement of Abreños and the student-athletes. The country’s chief of police was the guest speaker during the grand opening program.
Various performances by students of the province’s local schools added spark to the evening. Pupils from the East Central School and Bangued West Central School performed Abra festival dances; the Cristina Memorial High School did a ballroom dance performance; the Abra Lung-ay dance troop did a modern dance; and the An-anaao Integrated School gave out a cheer dance that elicited roars from the audience.
Television personality K Brosas also entertained the audience with her bubbly performance of dance and songs.
The opening was capped with a five-minute fireworks display.
The grandeur of the opening salvo for the regional athletic meet showed all smiles, happiness, fun, and excitement among all present at the venue, setting aside worries over a grenade blast in the La Paz town fiesta that killed two persons and injured several others, including officials of the province.
In his speech, Dela Rosa said: “I was motivated to come here because of the incident. Unang-una, gusto ko to see for myself ano ba talaga nangyari dito and gusto ko ipakita sa lahat ng tao na ang PNP will protect everyone kaya huwag sila matakot (First of all, I want to see for myself what really happened here and I want to show to all the people that the PNP will protect everyone so they should not be afraid).”
Apparently explaining his presence in Abra, Dela Rosa said: “Baka ma-discourage ang iba na sumali sa meet na ito dahil sa nangyari. Gusto ko ipakita na nandito kami. (Some people might be discouraged to join this sports meet because of the past incident. But I want to show them that we are here).”
Also present during the opening was Philippine Sports Commissioner Celia Kiram and the provincial and municipal officials of the six provinces and two cities of the Cordillera Region.
Abra is hosting CARAA for the first time in 20 years. PNA-northboundasia.com