LUNA, Apayao -- The summer capital is ready to defend the title as the 2019 edition of the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association [Caraa] opens Wednesday, February 27 at the Apayao Eco-Tourism and Sports Complex.
After reigning the regional sports meet for over a decade, Baguio City is keen on dominating the annual Caraa but is expecting a tough challenge.
City sports coordinator Gaudencio Gonzales said Benguet is expected to be their toughest rival, despite bagging only 38 gold medals, including 88 silver and 62 bronze which is good for second place compared to Baguio City’s 222 – 102 – 61 medal haul, Benguet is seen to cash in on combative sports like wushu and Muay Thai.
“Sa tingin ko lumakas ang Benguet sa combative sports but I still see Baguio winning the over-all,” predicts Gonzales.
Gonzales added Mountain Province is also expected to improve its over – all team standing after finishing seventh last year having their athletics team train at the Baguio City Athletic Bowl.
The city is sending 830 delegates while Benguet will field the largest contingent at 850 even as host Apayao province has an 800 string athletic delegation for the week long sports competition.
Abra meanwhile sent 791-man team while Ifugao is fielding 786 delegates and Mountain Province logging 741 athletes.
Kalinga, competing separately against Tabuk City, has 600 while the latter fields 715.
In a bid to make the games more interesting, each competing local government unit will carry a moniker which is unique in their area.
Benguet competes with the name “Stingers,” while the moniker “Eagles’ is for Apayao, “Stallions” for Abra, “E-Lions” for Baguio,’” “Builders,” for Ifugao, “Bull,” for Kalinga, “Braves,” for Mountain Province and “Brewers,” for Tabuk City.
Georaloy Palao-ay, Department of Education (DepEd) – Cordillera deputy sports coordinator said the monikers serve as a distinct character of every province and the two cities in the Cordillera.
DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones is expected to grace the Caraa meet as a guest speaker.
Palao-ay said the organizing committee also prepared a short and simple opening program on February 27, focusing on the province’s culture, people and the place.
The DepEd official added Briones will be accompanied by other DepEd officials to visit the schools in the province.
Palao-ay said based on initial information, Briones will also visit Kalinga schools, after Apayao.
Apayao will host the Caraa for the second time since the region’s grassroots sports event was organized more than 30 years ago. It first hosted the event in 2013.
Bulk of the games will be played at the Apayao Eco-Tourism and Sports Complex in Luna while other games are scattered in different venues in the municipalities of Flora, Pudtol, and Sta. Marcela.