AS CORDILLERA Administrative Region Athletics Association (CARAA) meet comes to a close Tuesday, officials of the Department of Education remain optimistic that the region has an improved delegation in the upcoming Palarong Pambansa hosted by Antique in the Western Visayas.

Regional athletic manager Agustin Gumuwang and DepEd’s special services division chief said preparation will always play a huge factor in the region’s bid to improve its over-all standing in the Palarong Pambansa.

“After the CARAA, we will ask our coaches to come up and submit the names of those who are qualified to play in the Palarong Pambansa so our athletes will properly train,” said Gumuwang in an earlier press conference.

The region is hoping to improve its dismal ninth place finish in last year’s national games held in Albay with 12 gold, 19 silver and 15 bronze medals.

It was in 2014 when the region showed vast improvement in the over-all medal standings after snatching 24 gold medals, mostly coming from archery and taekwondo, including 11 silver and 12 bronze to surprise other regions and land fifth.

Cordillera athletes then made their presence felt as it landed fourth over-all with 24 gold medals , 22 silver and 16 bronze with archery stand out Loren Chloe Baloing taking the most bemedalled athlete plum in the weeklong competition held in Tagum City.

Gumuwang added as individual sports remain to be the region’s gold medal mine in the annual competition, other sports events, particularly ball games and other team events should also step up to help the region’s campaign in the coming Palaro slated from April 23 to 27.

“I think all athletes in the region should also play their part so we can also improve our standings, not only taekwondo or archery but every athlete should play their part,” added Gumuwang.

DepEd recently formed a steering committee that will direct the course to be taken by the Province of Antique in hosting the Palarong Pambansa.

The team will oversee priority preparations of Antique as it hosts, for the first time, the annual multi-sporting event for Filipino student-athletes.

The steering committee, comprised of Undersecretary Alberto Muyot, Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua, and Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali, will assist in enabling the provincial government to achieve the necessary preparations in the conduct of competitions and the provision to secure and provide accessible billeting quarters, among others.

Aside from the steering committee, a memorandum of understanding is being drafted to establish the conditions being prepared by Antique.

Through the agreement, DepEd will provide guidelines in the acceptance of donations for the Palaro. The Department will maintain its standing policy against funds that result from activities that are essentially anti-developmental and counteractive to the principles of transparency and good governance.

Under the same agreement, the host province must be able to ensure the safety of the participants by providing adequate and conveniently located billeting quarters and facilities with sufficient water supply, uninterrupted electricity and proper ventilation; and basic medical and dental services.

The playing venues must also conform to international standards and be complete with facilities. (Roderick Osis)