By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
As a breeding ground of some of the country’s great national athletes, Department of Education (DepEd) once again looks forward to the conduct of this year’s Palarong Pambansa.
With the theme, “Shaping the Future Through Sports” the 2019 Palarong Pambansa is set from April 27 to May 4. The Davao City will host this year’s sporting event – in cooperation with DepEd Region XI and the Schools Division Office (SDO) of Davao City.
The “Palarong Pambansa” also known as National Games aims to promote Physical Education (PE) and sports as integral parts of basic education. It is conducted for the youth to “become responsible and globally competitive citizens of the country.”
DepEd noted that the conduct of the annual “Palaro” also targets to widen the bases for talent identification, selection, recruitment, training and exposure for elementary and secondary students to serve as athletes in the roster of the National Sports Associations (NSAs) for international competitions.
This year, the Palaro once again opens up the opportunities for young and promising athletes – among them are “water princess” of Laguna, the “running man” of Davao del Norte, and the “young fighter” of Davao del Sur.
Arlene Encarnacion, a Teacher III from Laguna in Region IV-A CALABARZON, shared the story of Roz Ciaralene “Cia” Encarnacion, a student-athlete from Alaminos Integrated National High School who will be among the contenders in 2019 Palarong Pambansa after ranking third among the secondary swimmers in Region IV-A CALABARZON.
Encarnacion said that “Cia” was just a third grader “when she first joined a swimming competition in 2014 at a provincial meet.” Unfortunately, “she fell short and landed only on the 15th spot, so she did not qualify for the next level.”
However, Encarnacion noted that this did not stop Cia from pursuing her passion. At fourth grade, she competed again and ranked 11th –unfortunately, only the top 10 swimmers would compete in the 2015 Southern Tagalog CALABARZON Athletic Association (STCAA) Meet. However, two weeks later, Cia was notified to replace one of the selected swimmers who backed out of the STCAA.
The young swimmer, Encarnacion said, “immediately participated in an in-house training program” in Santa Cruz, Laguna and “even her parents and relatives were eager for the competition.” But, Cia was “not given a swim even just for a relay” because, “her coach told her that she is not yet ready for the regional meet.”
Instead of giving up, Encarnacion said that while the incident “shattered” Cia’s self-confidence, it drove her to “strive harder to achieve what she has always longed for” which was a ticket to the regional and national meet.
“Cia got back on her feet, this time, more aggressive and strong-willed,” Encarnacion said. “She trained hard for the 2015 STCAA, for she did not want to be left alone in the bleachers again,” she added. Cia bagged a silver medal for 100-meter breaststroke and a gold medal for 50-meter breaststroke which paved the doors for her in the 2016 Palarong Pambansa held in Legazpi City, Albay where she was included in the top eight finalists.
Encarnacion said that Cia’s “journey continued” as she competed in the 2016 Batang Pinoy National Championship held in Tagum, Davao del Norte, where she won a gold medal in the 200-meter breaststroke and silver medals in 100-meter and 50-meter breaststroke.
In the 2017 regional meet, Encarnacion said that Cia bagged four gold medals in her 400-meter and 200-meter freestyle, and 100-meter and 50-meter breaststroke, and a silver medal in the 200-meter individual medley. “This winning streak made her the top qualifier in the CALABARZON team to compete in the 2017 Palarong Pambansa in San Jose De Buenavista, Antique, where she bagged two gold medals for her 50-meter and 100-meter breaststroke” and since then, she has been named “CALABARZON’s Water Princess.”
In the 2018 Palarong Pambansa in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Encarnacion said that Cia earned two bronze medals in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke and was included in the team of student-athletes who competed in the 10th ASEAN Schools Games held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where she ranked 10th on her 50-meter breaststroke. “Cia was a little disappointed with her own performance, but she later realized that what matters is the experience and learning that she gained,” she shared.
During the 2019 One Laguna Meet, Encarnacion said that Cia nailed seven out of her seven swims with gold medals. These events were 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke, 400-meter freestyle, 200-meter, and 100-meter butterfly, and 4×50-meter and 4×100-meter medley relay. Also, in the regional meet which was also dubbed as “CALABARZON Heroes Games,” the young swimmer Cia bagged gold medals on her 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke, and 4×50-meter and 4×100-meter medley relay, and a bronze on her 400-meter freestyle.
Encarnacion said that it was “never easy” for Cia – as a student-athlete – to reach the peak of success. “She went through various travails before she emerged triumphantly. She had to undergo non-stop training while studying—the most difficult challenge for her,” she shared. Despite the challenges, she believed said that Cia will continue to fight because she loves to swim and considers her “life is in the water.”
Meanwhile, Leny Pasaje, a Teacher II of Panabo National High School, Davao del Norte, also shared the “rough terrains” of that Jem Russell Taboco, a nine-year-old fourth grader from Namuag Elementary school, has to endure for his “road to success.”
Pasaje shared that Jem has to wake up as early as five o’clock in the morning to get ready for school since he has to “trek along the two misty and rough terrains” of Barangay Cacao, Panabo City. “Jem has to endure this trip every day just to arrive in time for the school’s flag ceremony, most of the time drenching himself either in rain or sweat,” she explained.
Jem’s daily routine, Pasaje said, caught the eyes of Coach “Tarsing” – a 60-year-old teacher in the same school – and asked him to be his trainee for athletics. “The coach saw potential in the boy who, without reservations, submitted himself to a series of intensive training,” she said.
Pasaje said that Jem joined the school’s intramurals until he reached the City Meet and got the support of his parents for his “rigid practice, tedious training, and rigorous trials.” Jem, who is now in Grade 6, brought “pride and honor” to his school when he bagged the first gold medal in the 2019 Davao Regional Athletic Association (DAVRAA) Meet.
Jem, Pasaje shared, dominated the long jump event for the boys-elementary category. “He is thankful to his fatherly coach, his parents, and all those who cheered for him,” she said. “Aside from long jump, Jem also indulges himself in running events,” she added.
Another student-athlete to watch out for, according to Lemuel Madulin, an Education Program Specialist II for Human Resource, Division of Davao del Sur, is Edward Teric.
Edward is Davao Regional Athletic Association (DAVRAA) Meet gold medalist for boxing. Inspired by the life story of Pacquiao, Madulin said that the “young boxer is optimistic that the sport will give him a brighter future.”
Madulin also shared how sports – particularly boxing – kept Edward from quitting school because it “encouraged” him to “be present in school always.” He wanted to continue his schooling “because it was his father’s dream for him to finish high school and attend college.”
As a son of a farmer and peddler, Madulin shared Edward “helps his father in selling farm goods” which “he usually carries on his head while trudging along the dusty and unpaved roads of Barangay New Clarin in Bansalan, Davao del Sur.”
“These farming and peddling times with his father served as intensive training sessions for Edward,” Madulin said. “He worked out his thigh and leg muscles by walking countless kilometers,” he added.
Madulin shared that despite Edward’s “struggles in finding a decent place to train and setting an hour to practice” he was “resourceful and persevering enough to find ways and overcome these barriers” because all he needed “was the unwavering support of his parents, teachers, and school principal.”
Because of Edward’s involvement in Sports, Madulin said the school’s Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) decided to give him a scholarship. “He made himself an inspiration to his community when he bravely trod life’s difficulties with his talent in boxing as his sole weapon,” Madulin added.
Armed with his father’s aspirations and his own dreams and ambition, Madulin said that Edward is indeed an “athlete to watch out for” in the 2019 Palarong Pambansa.
The “Palarong Pambansa” is considered as DepEd’s flagship sports program that continues to champion the spirit and the welfare of the young Filipino athletes. Aside from this, the National Games is also expected to provide a database for “valid and universal basis to further improve the school sports development program.”