PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte opened the Palarong Pambansa on Sunday by declaring the games as a training ground for leaders and nation builders.
He said the event is not just a platform to showcase the Filipino youth’s talents and skills in sports.
“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 in a speech to open the 61st edition of the annual national athletic meet in Bantay, Ilocos Sur.
“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,” he told the young participants.
He called on the athletes not to neglect their studies.
“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.
He called the athletes in the competition “winners and champions” because their presence in the competition is “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,” the President said.
He added that sports help divert the youth from illegal drugs, criminality and other lawless acts, vowing that the government will continue to find ways to eradicate these problems 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.
Around 15,000 student-athletes from public and private schools will compete in 23 regular events and three demonstration sports in the week-long competition.
The Palarong Pambansa cauldron, also known as the “friendship urn,” was lit by 2014 Youth Olympic gold medalist for archery Gabriel Moreno.
The annual meet is organized by the Department of Education.