12,000 delegates, including special kids, troop to Albay as Palaro 2016 opens

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OVER 12,000 delegates – student-athletes, children with special needs, coaches, and officials – from the country’s 18 regions gathered Sunday at the Bicol University, in Albay, for the opening ceremonies of this year’s Palarong Pambansa.

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The Department of Education (DepEd) formally welcomed both athletes and visitors to the games, marking the start of a week-long sporting event in a colorful mix of costumes, flags, and banners.

The delegates paraded along the streets of Legazpi City just before the opening ceremonies, eventually coming together at the university’s grandstand.

Daraga Mayor Gerry Jaucian expressed his gratitude for the substantial number of delegates and supporters.

Jaucian said that the Palarong Pambansa 2016 is an avenue to foster partnership and camaraderie among the regions.

Mayor Noel Rosal likewise welcomed all the delegates and guests to Legazpi City, “the city of fun and adventure.”

“Sports and education are instrumental in transforming our communities,” Rosal said, expounding on the theme of the Palarong Pambansa 2016.

With the theme “Transforming Communities, Transcending Through K-to-12,” DepEd aims to promote physical education and sports as an integral part of basic education for a holistically-developed youth, who is responsible and globally-competitive.

DepEd Region-V Regional Director Fiel Abcede said, “The path to being an athlete is a difficult path but your participation in Palaro is already considered as an achievement.”

Abcede also asked the participants and supporters to be on the lookout for inspiring student-athletes who are equipped with brilliance and skill.

After the welcoming remarks, Davao del Norte Gov. Rodolfo del Rosario and DepEd Region-XI Director Alberto Escobarte turned over the Palarong Pambansa banner to Albay Gov. Joey Salceda and Abcede.

For his part, Salceda thanked Education Secretary Armin Luistro “for being the most revolutionary leader because he pushed for the K-to-12 Program that will benefit our children.”

“Why do we hunger for these games? Salceda said. “Because we have to qualify our children with the daunting task of nation-building. … We appear to be chasing medals, but we are actually chasing dreams. We are teaching our young ones that competition is better when rules apply to everyone and when the playing field is leveled.”

Palarong Pambansa 2016, which runs until April 10, has participants from 18 regions, including the newly established Negros Island Region, nationwide. The participants consist of elementary and high-school students from public and private schools.

The elementary level will compete in 15 games while the secondary level will compete in 17 games and four demonstration sports, namely, futsal, wushu, billiards and wrestling.

This year’s event will determine whether these four demonstration sports should be included as regular games in the succeeding Palarong Pambansa events.

Some of the many highlights in the event are the special games for children with special needs; these include athletics, swimming, goal ball, and bocce, a ball sport closely related to bowling. NEIL ALCOBER

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