By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
As student-athletes and coaches from every region gear up for the 2019 Palarong Pambansa, the Department of Education (DepEd) and the City Government of Davao assured that everything will be set in time for country’s biggest local sporting event.
A few weeks before the start of this year’s Palaro, Secretary Leonor Briones, along with Undersecretaries Revsee Escobedo and Annalyn Sevilla, Assistant Secretary G.H. Ambat, and other officials, inspected the playing venues for the Palaro, including the gymnasium, track oval, football field, and swimming pool.
DepEd and the City Government of Davao, this year’s Palaro host, assured that “all playing venues and billeting quarters will be ready” in time for the 2019 Palaro scheduled April 27 to May 4.
Earlier, DepEd and the City Government of Davao officially signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) on the hosting of the 2019 Palaro.
The MOA specified the duties and responsibilities of the Department and the City Government in holding the annual sporting event which will be anchored on the theme “Shaping the Future Through Sports”.
Largest youth sporting event
This year marks the 62nd year of staging the Palarong Pambansa – also known as the National Games.
Considered as the country’s largest youth sporting event – with over 10,000 participants joining every year – the Palaro serves as DepEd’s flagship sports program. Initially called Bureau of Public Schools-Interscholastic Athletics Association Games (BPISAA), the national competition was first held in Manila in 1948. The BPISAA was renamed Palarong Pambansa in 1974.
The year 2013 was integral to the Palaro because that was when the Republic Act No. 10588 or the Palarong Pambansa Act was signed into law. It institutionalized the national competition and assigned the annual event as the “primary venue for providing in-school sports opportunities to improve the physical, intellectual and social well-being of the youth.”
The law directed all schools to “promote physical education” and conduct regular sports activities and local meets in line with the Palaro. The local government units (LGUs) were also enjoined to be more active in promoting the games through provision of rewards and incentives.
The Palaro is considered as “highest sports event” for learner-athletes with students from both public and private schools participating in various categories. It is also considered as culmination of year-long competitions since student-athletes from elementary and high schools nationwide compete in various levels to represent their region in the national competition.
The hosting of the Palarong Pambansa is rotated among the three major island groups – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao and done through a bidding process. The local government that will host the Palaro is chosen based on its ability to accommodate the student-athletes and the needs of each sport category– particularly the availability of facilities.
Last year, the Palaro was hosted by Ilocos Sur and participated in by around 15,000 participants from all the regions of the country. Education Secretary Leonor Briones, then, dubbed the Palaro as the DepEd’s “greatest, largest, gigantic” event. Antique hosted it in 2017, Albay in 2016 and Davao in 2015.
Joining and competing in the Palarong Pambansa is a dream come true for most student-athletes. This is because through the years, the national competition has become a training and breeding ground for best athletes that the country has produced to date.
Some of the world-class Filipino athletes that the Palaro has produced include Rafael “Paeng” Nepomuceno, Hidilyn Diaz, Elma Muros-Posadas, Lydia de Vega-Mercado, Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, Luis Gabriel Moreno, Efren “Bata” Reyes, Eric Buhain, and Eugenio Torre –among others.
While DepEd’s Palarong Pambansa is considered the highest sports event for student-athletes from all over the country, for DepEd, it also provides a platform for learners and young sports enthusiasts to “showcase their athleticism and sportsmanship.”