61st Palarong Pambansa officially opens in Ilocos Sur
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 16, 2018 03:25 PM
The 61st edition of the Palarong Pambansa has started in Ilocos Sur. (Photo courtesy of Karl Cedrick Basco, ABS-CBN News)
The Department of Education (DepEd), in partnership with the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur as the host province, officially kicked off this year’s Palarong Pambansa on April 15 at the President Elpidio Quirino Stadium in Bantay, Ilocos Sur.
“Ilocos Sur has brought together 15,000 participants from all the regions of the country,” DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said as she welcomed everyone to what she dubbed as the Department’s “greatest, largest, gigantic” event which is now on its 61st year.
Briones also welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte as the guest of honor, and thanked him for his consistent support to the education sector.
In his keynote address, Duterte congratulated all the organizers, as well as the participants of the Palaro: “To the students who have flown all the way from the provinces to compete and represent their respective schools and their regions, congratulations. The fact that you are here today is enough proof of your determination and excellence in your chosen sports that makes all of you winner and champions already.”
He also lauded the conduct of the Palaro – DepEd’s flagship sports program – as a training ground for future leaders, and iterated the government’s efforts in promoting physical education, encouraging sports programs, and supporting athletes, especially as they compete in international events.
He added that sports serves as an avenue to divert the youth from illegal drugs, criminality, and other lawless acts, and conveyed his hopes that the participating student-athletes will greatly contribute to nation-building.
The DepEd Chief also welcomed all those who support the youth as they journey towards joining the ranks of world champions that the Palaro has already produced.
These include the outstanding Filipino athletes including Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno, Hidilyn Diaz, Elma Muros-Posadas, Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, Luis Gabriel Moreno, Efren “Bata” Reyes, Eric Buhain, and Eugenio Torre, who all marched while carrying a giant Philippine flag during the Parade of Colors.
DepEd Undersecretary and Palarong Pambansa Secretary-General Tonisito Umali awarded the Palarong Pambansa Lifetime Achievement to Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist and two-time Olympian Lydia de Vega-Mercado.
This is in recognition of her outstanding contribution in Philippine sports: being a Palaro champion, winning various international competitions in the track and field athletic event, and inspiring young Filipino athletes to achieve greater success in various sports. The award was received by her daughter Stephanie Mercado on her behalf.
With the theme, “Championing the Spirit of Young Filipino Athletes,” the Palarong Pambansa opening ceremonies started with a grand parade of regional delegations consist of student-athletes and sports officials. Sky diving exhibitions, hot air balloon show, field demonstration, and street dance showdown also formed part of the festivities.
The Palaro Friendship Cauldron was lit by an arrow shot by Luis Gabriel Moreno, who won the mixed international team event in archery at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics.
The Oath of Sportsmanship and Amateurism was led by the Region I Athletic Association (R1AA) 2018, while the Oath of Officiating Officials was presided by DepEd Director and Palarong Pambansa Deputy Secretary General Rizalino Jose Rosales.
In his welcome message, Bantay, Ilocos Sur Mayor Samuel Parilla II enjoined the athletes to enjoy triumph with humility and be gracious in defeat.
DepEd-Region VI Director Gemma Ledesma, whose region hosted the Palaro 2017, turned over the event’s official banner to Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Luis Singson.
Singson welcomed the participants to the Heritage Province of Ilocos Sur, and expressed his gratitude for giving them the opportunity to serve the country through the hosting of Palaro. He also shared how they prepared for the event, especially in terms of infrastructure and facilities.
DepEd Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua, Assistant Secretary Revsee Escobedo, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Assistant Secretary Marjorie Jalosjos, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Ramon Fernandez, and Ilocos Sur Vice Governor Jeremias Singson raised the Palarong Pambansa banner, followed by the hoisting of the banners of the 17 competing regions.
Finally, Duterte saluted the country’s young athletes: “Mabuhay ang kabataang Pinoy. Now, I officially declare the Palarong Pambansa 2018 open.”