PALARONG Pambansa is a “training ground for future leaders” and an “avenue for the youth to divert their attention away from illegal drugs and other criminal acts,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in a speech at the opening of the 61st annual nationwide sporting event in Bantay, Ilocos Sur on Sunday.
“Palarong Pambansa serves as a training ground for future leaders and national builders whose values and principles are founded on perseverance, discipline, teamwork, integrity and love of country,” Duterte said.
“Embody good values and enhance your skills, for this is the beginning of your greater participation in nation-building. I look forward to your more significant contributions to society in the days to come,” Duterte said.
Duterte also highlighted to student-athletes the importance of “studies first.”
“While you devote yourselves in sports, do your best to excel in your studies too. Your ability to balance academics and your other interests measures your aptitude for skills such as multi-tasking, time management and decision-making—skills that you will need as you take on greater responsibilities in the future,” Duterte said.
Duterte also said that the athletes competing were already winners and champions because being there was “enough proof of their determination and excellence in their chosen sports.”
“To the parents, there is no better way to show your love for your children than to help them realize their potential. Support them as they discover themselves and explore the limitless possibilities for their growth and development,” Duterte said.
Sports protect youth from drugs, criminality
Aside from this, sports also is an “avenue to divert the youth from illegal drugs, criminality and other lawless acts,” according to Duterte.
He also reiterated that the government would continue to find ways to eradicate these and make the Philippines a better nation.
“We, however, cannot do this alone. We call for your participation in making our national plans and programs tangible,” Duterte said.
About 15,000 student-athletes from public and private schools in the elementary and secondary levels are expected to compete in 23 regular events and three demonstration sports.
The Palarong Pambansa cauldron, also known as the “friendship urn,” was lit up by 2014 Youth Olympic gold medalist for archery Gabriel Moreno.
The annual meet is organized and sponsored by the Department of Education. RALPH EDWIN U. VILLANUEVA