President Duterte lauds student-athletes during opening of 61st Palarong Pambansa
Vigan, Ilocos Sur — The student athletes who graced the opening of the 61st Palarong Pambansa on Sunday didn’t mind the blistering afternoon heat at the President Elpidio Quirino Stadium.
Not after hearing the heartwarming speech of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who officially opened the annual national meet that features 15,000 athletes from 17 regions competing in 21 sporting events in this heritage city.
In his five-minute speech, Duterte lauded the athletes from far-flung regions of the country who braved the grueling journey to Vigan.
“To the student-athletes who have flown here from distant provinces and cities to represent their schools and regions, congratulations,” the President from Mindanao said. “The fact that you are here with us today is enough proof of your determination and excellence in your chosen sport. That makes all of you winners and champions already.”
One of the regions who had to endure a long journey to Vigan is Central Visayas (Region VII). The team, composed mostly of student-athletes from Cebu City, had to go through a 32-hour trip via sea and land to compete in this week-long meet organized by the Department of Education (DepEd).
President Duterte emphasized the importance of sports, saying it is an avenue to keep the youth away from drugs, criminality and other lawless acts.
“The government remains steadfast in promoting physical education, encouraging sports programs and supporting athletes, especially as they compete in international events,” the President added.
Duterte was joined by his cabinet members headed by Presidential Assistant Bong Go and DepEd secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones. Other VIP’s during the opening ceremonies were Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Luis Singson, Bantay town Mayor Samuel Parilla Jr., former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Chavit Singson, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) commissioner Ramon Fernandez, Charles Raymond Maxey and Cilia Keram.
“I thank the province of Ilocos Sur for its effort to make this much-awaited annual national event a success. Congratulations for hosting this affair for the third time. May the organizers and hosts take this sports competition as an opportunity to promote Ilocano culture and the history of Ilocos Sur, especially as it celebrates its bicentennial anniversary next year,” said President Duterte.
Youth Olympic Games gold medalist in archery Luis Gabriel Moreno lit the cauldron by firing an arrow from his bow, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the opening ceremonies.
Only a few athletes from Region VII joined the parade and opening ceremonies yesterday after Dr. Luz Jandayan, the DepEd Region VII chief for Education Support Service division, advised athletes who will start competing today to take a rest and avoid the blistering heat.
The temperature and heat index in Vigan yesterday reached 36 degrees Celsius, hot enough to cause some athletes to collapse during the parade.
“They are much better resting at the billeting rather than joining us here because the sun’s heat is unforgiving. I don’t want them to get exhausted. It might affect their performances tomorrow,” said Jandayan.
Only athletes who did not have games today joined the opening ceremonies.
Meanwhile, Central Visayas continued to pile up wins prior to the official start of the meet.
Cviraa’s elementary boys’ football team routed Northern Mindanao Regional Athletic Association (NMRAA), 4-0, yesterday for its second lopsided win.
The team first defeated MIMAROPA, 5-0, on Saturday.
The sepak takraw secondary boys team also edged ARMM, the baseball secondary team won over Region I, and the secondary girls softball team defeated Region IX.
The volleyball secondary boys team also beat ARMM.
“I am confident that our athletes will exceed our expectations for this year because I have seen them training very well,” added Jandayan.
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