THE 60th Palarong Pambansa officially opened today April 23 at the Binayaran Sports Complex in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique.
This year’s opening highlights featured cultural presentations, a grand parade and a fly-by and sky dive by the Philippine Air Force (PAF). Another high point of this year’s Palaro was the lighting of the cauldron, jointly done by former Southeast Asian Games Heptathlon Queen Elma Muros-Posadas, the first Palarong Pambansa Parangal Lifetime Achievement Awardee; tennis standout and Antique’s pride Marian Jade Capadocia; and 2017 Palaro swimming qualifier Clyde Clemente.
President Rodrigo Duterte, along with his family, was the guest of honor. Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones, Senator Loren Legarda, Governor Rhodora Cadiao, and San Jose de Buenavista Mayor Elmer Untaran delivered their respective welcome remarks during the ceremony.
President Rodrigo Duterte cited the importance of the Palarong Pambansa in building the moral and physical values needed to build a new generation of disciplined citizens.
He pointed out that the Department of Education (DepEd) received P543.2 billion, or the lion’s share of the national budget, including P350 million for the staging of the school-based Games beginning from the division, regional to the national levels.
“This moment belongs to you, you must by now have a sense of responsibility, and education has the biggest budget. Malaki ang investment ko sa inyo because you are tomorrow’s future,” the Chief Executive told the student athletes.
“We’re trying to build competitiveness, fairness, values and sense of goodwill sa inyong mga bata,” he stressed. “We want you to build muscle, stamina and physical well-being.
“Sense of discipline is not all physical, it is also mental and the desire to win. Kailangan ko ipasa sa inyo yan. These are the values we hold dear,” the President maintained.
Governor Cadiao thanked the President for gracing the inauguration ceremonies.
“Ikinagagalak po namin ang iyong pagdating sa aming maliit at di gaanong kilalang probinsya. Matagal-tagal na po kaming hindi nadalaw ng isang pangulo ng isang bansa. If gaano po kaliit ang aming probinsya, ganon naman kainit ang aming pagsalubong at pasasalamat sa iyong pagbisita dito sa Antique. Ito pong 60th Palarong Pambansa ay napakahalaga dahil ito ay ayon sa iyong tugon to bring development to the country side through sports.”
Senator Legarda also gave a short and inspiring message to the student-athletes, “Dream big. Managinip po tayo. Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken - winged bird that cannot fly.”
With more than 12, 000 student-athletes from the country’s 18 regions present at the Binarayan Sports Complex stadium, Secretary Briones emphasized to the President and the participants the importance of these games.
“The 2017 Palarong Pambansa is truly special Mr. President. First, it is the 60th Palarong Pambansa in the history of our country. Second, we are celebrating the Palarong Pambansa coinciding with the Senior High School (SHS) this June. We will be opening Grade 12 for the SHS and we are very grateful for the support of the President for the continuance of the SHS. The SHS has four strands, Academics, TechVoc, Arts and Sports. Out of the 1.5 million learners, 60% are in the Academic strand, 39% are in TechVoc and only .2% are in Sports as a profession and field of learning. We hope this year, with the dramatic and exciting turn of events here at the Palarong Pambansa, with no less than the President to inspire us, we will have more students take sports seriously, not just an extracurricular activity for 30 minutes, but as an honorable profession with good income.”
The Philippine Postal Corporation Postmaster General and CEO Joel Otarra also formally launched the commemorative Philippine Olympic Silver Medalists Stamps featuring weightlifter Hidalyn Diaz, silver medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games; and boxers Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco and the late Anthony Villanueva, who won their silver medals in the 1986 Atlanta Games and the 1960 Tokyo Olympics respectively.
The audience got a glimpse of what the demonstration sports would be like as athletes performed pencak silat, dance sports, and aerobics gymnastics.
The crowd was serenaded by singers Jed Madela and The Voice Kids Season 3 Grand Champion and Antique’s very own Joshua Oliveros.
The opening ceremony of the Palarong Pambansa ended with a grand fireworks display and the commencement of a week-long rigorous competition in 24 sporting events.