Marcos salutes athletes; Sara, Mike no-show

Marcos salutes athletes; Sara, Mike no-show
OFFICIALLY OPENED. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (left) leads the lighting of the torch during the Palarong Pambansa 2024 opening ceremony on Tuesday, July 9, 2024, at the Cebu City Sports Center, with Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, Cebu City Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia, and Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Richard Bachmann.AMPER CAMPAÑA

THE more than 500 student-athletes who gathered in Cebu City for the Palarong Pambansa were called champions by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during the national sporting event’s opening rites on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.

“You’re already champions. All of you that are here. Your hard work and determination have made you true champions in the hearts and minds of your family, of your schools, and of your communities, regardless of the outcomes of this Palaro,” Marcos said, as he addressed the more than 13,000 student-athletes, coaches, officials and support staff from the 17 regions across the country, with the addition of delegates from the National Academy of Sports, and the Philippine Schools Overseas, who will compete in 24 regular sports, four para games, four exhibition sports, and demonstration sports which will run until July 15, 2024.

Marcos was joined by Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and Cebu City Acting Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia during the opening ceremony of the 64th edition of the Palarong Pambansa, with Cebu City as host for the first time since 1994, at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).

However, Vice President and outgoing Education Secretary Sara Duterte was a no-show at the opening ceremony, despite confirming her attendance at the event a week earlier.

Duterte was also in Cebu province on Tuesday as she attended the Learners’ Convergence Philippines 2024 held at Hoops Dome in Lapu-Lapu City in the morning.

She also visited Basilica Minore Del Sto. Niño de Cebu and the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) in the afternoon.

She has until July 19 to leave her post as Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary, following her resignation last June.

Duterte gave a message in which she prayed for the success of the event and expressed her gratitude to the people behind the preparations for the Palarong Pambansa.

Suspended Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama was also not seen at the venue, in contrast to his earlier announcement last week to appear at the opening ceremonies.

Rama was behind the successful bid of the Cebu City Government to have the hosting rights of the Palarong Pambansa; however, in May, two months before the event, he was suspended.

Program

The opening ceremony started at 2 p.m. with a grand parade of the host city and the delegates from the 17 regions from B. Rodriguez St. to CCSC on Tuesday afternoon.

The parade and the entrance of the delegates were filled with the Sinulog Festival beat song.

Marcos declared the official opening of the games, and in his speech, he emphasized the importance of sportsmanship and camaraderie.

“Palaro stands as the country’s pinnacle of national sporting events. Today, we continue this important legacy, celebrating not just the games, but also the unity, camaraderie, and national pride that these games inspired,” he said.

The President stressed that Palarong Pambansa is a platform that nurtures national pride among young athletes and is not only a venue for discovering talents.

“This event is more than an inter-school, inter-regional competition. It is also a platform where we discover, where we develop and hone future professional athletes, Olympians, and servant leaders,” Marcos said.

He also said that he is certain that all 541 athletes competing in this year’s Palarong Pambansa will become record holders and champions in their respective fields, not only at the national level but internationally.

Speaking to the student-athletes, he said, “This occasion holds enormous significance beyond sports, the values and virtues that will be displayed and put into practice here, such as excellence, teamwork, discipline, perseverance, and most importantly, sportsmanship, are the same ideals we need to succeed in life and build a great nation.”

He also underscored the integration of technology in this year’s edition of Palaro. “It will not only connect games to families and fans around the world but also provide valuable data that we can use to improve performance in future competitions.”

Also, in his speech, Marcos said that he had directed the Office of the President to assist victims of flooding in certain areas of Cebu, including the drowning incident that occurred in the town of Carmen following the heavy downpour on Monday, July 8.

Marcos, along with Governor Garcia and Acting Mayor Garcia, led the ceremonial lighting of the torch, which he then passed to Cebu City Acting Vice Mayor Donaldo Hontiveros, who was considered a pride of Cebu City after turning from a former professional basketball player to a politician.

Hontiveros then passed the torch to student-athletes, University of the Visayas’ basketball team captain Kelvin Kenneth Co, University of San Jose-Recoletos’ volleyball team captain Mary Antoinette Cortes, and Cebu City Dancesport Team Pearl Marie Cañeda and Gilbert Alonzo, who lit the urn that signaled the start of the weeklong games.

The opening ceremony ended with a performance from the Cebu City cultural dance group, and fireworks lit up the sky of the CCSC.

Meanwhile, Acting Mayor Garcia stressed in his speech that the hosting of the Palarong Pambansa has brought unity to the local government units of Cebu, and extended his gratitude to the Cebu Provincial Government for lending a hand. / EHP

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