DEPARTMENT of Education (DepEd) Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali has urged the 159 athletes joining this year's Asean School Games to do their best and make the Philippines proud.
The athletes, who will be accompanied by 65 officials, make up the delegation that will leave on Wednesday for Singapore, which is hosting the tournament on July 13-21.
“Just promise your country, tayo ang dinadala ninyo. Hindi lamang ang
paaralan niyo kung hindi pati bansa niyo. You will give your best and let God take care of the rest,” said Umali during the orientation program and pep rally for the Singapore-bound athletes over the weekend at the Bulwagan ng Karunungan at the DepEd Central Office in Pasig City.
On the same occasion, Umali instructed the athletes, who are mostly medalists in the 2017 Palaranong Pambansa, to place their right hand on their chest while saying, “Ako ay isang atletang Pilipino. Mahal ko ang bayan ko. Ibibigay ko ang lahat ko para magbigay ng karangalan sa bayan ko. Mangyayari ito!”
Meanwhile, Education Secretary Leonor Briones, who also heads the Palarong Pambansa Board, has given her full support to the biggest delegation the DepEd is sending abroad.
“This is a very honorable activity. You give glory to the country, to yourself and it is a very good profession itself. I hope we can attract more students to specialize in sports through the K to 12 Program," Briones said in a news release issued Tuesday.
Aside from Umali, other officials present during the pep rally were DepEd Director Rizalino Jose Rosales (head of delegation); DepEd School Sports Chief Cesar Abalon (deputy head of delegation); Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Charles Raymond Maxey; and Negros Island Region Assistant Director Salustiano Jimenez.
Umali and Maxey will join the delegation to attend a meeting with the Asean Schools Sports Council (ASSC), which is organizing the 9th edition of the tournament carrying the theme “Together As One.”
Umali said the Philippines will be aiming to improve on its fourth-place finish in 2014, the year Manila played host to the tournament for high school students 18 years old and below.
Three years ago, the Philippines won 11 golds, 14 silvers and 22 bronzes to finish fourth behind Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
In 2015, the Filipinos captured 17 medals (three golds, three silvers and 11 bronzes) in the tournament hosted by Brunei. Last year, the Philippines did not compete.
The students will compete in athletics, badminton, basketball, gymnastics, sepak takraw, swimming, table tennis, lawn tennis, volleyball and tenpin bowling, which will be featured in the Asean School Games for the first time.
It will be the second time for Singapore to host the Asean School Games, which had its inaugural staging in 2009. This year’s edition will also coincide with Asean’s 50th anniversary and the first time all 10 member countries -- the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar -- will be competing.
Some 1,800 are expected to participate in the games, which aims to promote Asean solidarity in youth through school sports, provide opportunities for student-athletes to gauge their skills in the region, and allow them to interact and engage in cultural exchange with Asean. (PNA)