Palarong Pambansa opens in Laoag

LAOAG CITY– The 2018 Palarong Pambansa hits the heritage province of Ilocos Sur with high hopes of unearthing fresh sports talents from the country’s 17 regional contingents.

With the theme, “Championing the spirit of young Filipino athletes”, this year’s Palarong Pambansa 2018 opens on Sunday and organizers said President Rodrigo R. Duterte has already confirmed he would grace the event. Education Secretary Leonor Briones and Undersecretary for Legislative Education Liaison Office, External Partnerships Service and School Sports Tonisito Umali were already in Ilocos Sur to grace the grand parade and the colorful opening program.

“Finally, the long wait is over. The biggest and most spectacular sporting event for student-athletes in the entire country is happening here in Ilocos Sur,” Governor Ryan Singson earlier said on Friday evening.

The governor held a fellowship dinner at the San Sebastian Elementary School here for some of the dignitaries and delegates, who arrived ahead of the grand opening on Sunday.

Singson, on behalf of the people of Ilocos Sur, expressed his gratitude for having been chosen as the host of the 61st edition of the Palarong Pambansa; and to be given the chance to witness the future of sports in the country.

“I wish that in the nearest time, we will produce athletes who will capture the elusive Olympic gold medal,” he said.

The last Olympic medal won by the country was the silver brought home by Hidilyn Diaz in the 2016 Rio Olympics at the women’s weightlifting.

The governor wished the expected 15,000 athletes from 17 regions nationwide a safe and injury-free competition for all.

Singson, in a radio interview on Saturday, said security preparations have been intensified to ensure the success of the sporting event.

Aside from the President, prominent sports personalities are also expected to attend the opening program, such as eight-division World Champion and Senator Manny Pacquiao, champion swimmer and chairman of the Philippines’ Games and Amusement Board Joseph Eric Buhain, and legendary world bowling champion Paeng Nepomuceno.

On Friday, a simulation exercise was conducted at the President Elpidio Quirino Sports Stadium for the opening program on Sunday.

The stadium was temporarily closed for the ocular inspection of the Presidential Security Group. (PNA)