Boxing idol Manny Pacquiao will be among the sports celebrities who will carry the Olympic torch at the opening of the 57th Palarong Pambansa on May 3 at the sprawling Laguna Sports Complex in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
A total of 11,200 athletes and officials from 17 regions are taking part in the Palaro, and Gov. Jeorge “E.R.” Ejercito said most of the delegations have arrived in time for the opening ceremonies at 8 a.m. on Monday.
The other sports stars participating in the symbolic lighting of the flame are Sochi Winter Olympian Michael Martinez and two-time PBA MVP James Yap.
Joining Ejercito in the opening rites, which has for a theme “Sports is a Way of Life” are Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman Richie Garcia, Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco, DepEd secretary Armin Luistro and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
The best student-athletes from private and public schools will see action in 27 sports events, four demonstration sports and two special games spread over 16 venues with the 19-hectare Laguna Sports Complex in Sta. Cruz as the main hub.
“This is a dream come true and an excellent opportunity for every town and city of Laguna to prove its support to sports development and an opportune time to promote our province as the best place to live in, to visit and invest in,” said Ejercito.
He said they are deploying 400 policemen, 800 peace volunteers medical teams in the 37 billeting schools and venues and to ensure the safety of all athletes, officials and guests.
Among the sports events on tap are archery, arnis, athletics, badminton, elementary baseball, secondary baseball, elementary boys basketball, secondary boys basketball, secondary girls basketball, boxing, chess, elementary football, secondary football and
Athletes in the elementary and secondary levels will compete in elementary softball, secondary softball, elementary sepak-takraw, secondary sepak-takraw, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, elementary lawn tennis, secondary lawn tennis, elementary boys volleyball, elementary girls volleyball, secondary boys volleyball and secondary
Billiards, futsal, wushu and wrestling will be played for the first time as demonstration sports, while bocce and goal ball are being considered as special games.
Defending champion National Capital Region remains as the strong favorite,
along with Western Visayas, Calabarzon and Bicol Region.
Central Visayas is sending a 350-man delegation and is determined to improve its
third place finish last year in Dumaguete City.
Ejercito also said the host province will be giving P5,000 cash incentives to an athlete from Laguna who wins a gold medal, P3,000 for a silver and P2,000 for a bronze.
“We are also giving scholarship grants to the gold medalists from Laguna province,” he added.