IN SPITE of the unfavorable weather, this year’s Eastern Visayas Regional Athletic Association (EVRAA) Meet has formally opened on Sunday afternoon, February 5.

Naval, the provincial capital of Biliran, once again hosted the regional sports meet after 22 years.

Naval Mayor Gerard Espina said they have prepared for the activity since September last year, months ahead of the regional sports meet.

The six-day athletic meet started with the grand parade to the tune of the EVRAA 2017 Jingle “EVRAA, Mabuhi Ka!” followed by the opening ceremonies at the Biliran Provincial Sports Complex.

Representatives from Biliran, Borongan City, Baybay City, Calbayog City, Catbalogan City, Maasin City, Eastern Samar, Samar, Northern Samar, Tacloban City, Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Ormoc City participated in the athletic event.

At least 200 policemen have been deployed from the police regional office to augment the 40 policemen assigned in Naval. They are supported with hundreds of village watchmen and civilian volunteers.

“We have been stepping up security measures to ensure everyone’s safety,” Espina said.

In terms of traffic, the local government imposed a color-coding scheme for more than 400 passenger tricycles operating in 22 villages.

“We feel the pressure in hosting a big sporting event, but we welcome the challenge and believe that this will help us promote Naval,” Espina said.

Department of Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito M.C. Umali graced the event and delivered a speech, while Regional Director Dr. Ramir Uytico, Schools Divisions Superintendent and Assistant Superintendents, and other local government officials across the region also attended the opening ceremonies.

Carrying the theme “Bracing Sports. Breaking Barriers. Braving to Lead,” the opening was concluded with a playground demonstration and fireworks display.

The week-long sports event will end on February 10. Winners will represent the region in Palarong Pambansa, the country’s national school-based sports event. (Ralph Arvic Arcenal/With PNA)