Pages: Palaro spells CEBU: Compete. Explore. Bond. Unite

John Pages
John Pages

BEYOND SPORTS. This is the Palarong Pambansa slogan of the 64th edition of the “National Games” of the Philippines. Our Queen City of the South hosted the Palaro in 1954 and 1994 and, after 30 years, it’s “coming home” this July 9 to 16 in Cebu City.

Beyond Sports: Compete. Explore. Bond. Unite. These words form the name, “C-E-B-U.”

COMPETE because over 12,000 athletes and coaches from all over the Philippines will converge in Cebu to compete in 28 sporting events.

Playing venues? Aside from the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC), which will host athletics and swimming, the other venues include schools like UV, USC, SHS-Ateneo de Cebu, UC, USJ-R, Bright Academy, CIT-U, Don Bosco, CTU, SWU, CEC and USP-F. They will also include malls like G Mall, SM Seaside City, and Filinvest/City di Mare. Badminton will be played in Metro Sports while lawn tennis will be in Citigreen, Villa Aurora, Camp Lapu-lapu and Alta Vista. Dynamic Herb will host football while Cebu Coliseum will host boxing.

EXPLORE because this is an opportunity for elementary and high school athletes to tour the beautiful sounds and sites of Cebu City and the entire Cebu Island. Mo suroy-suroy sila sa Sugbu.

“Beyond Sports” was chosen as our rallying cry because, although the Palaro is about sports, it goes beyond games and competition. It’s about the voyage and travel. We want the estimated 60,000+ visitors, including family members and friends, to explore our glorious Cebu. Aside from visiting our famous sites like the Basilica del Sto. Niño, Tops, Cebu Ocean Park, Sirao Garden and Temple of Leah, we want them to go to Oslob for the Whale Sharks, to Carmen for the Cebu Safari and to Bantayan and Malapascua for our white sand beaches.

The Cebu City Tourism Office, headed by Councilor Joy Pesquera, is in the process of preparing various tourism-related “pakulo” for our visitors. One idea, discussed during our convergence meeting with Mayor Mike Rama last month, is a Palaro Passport that will be issued to each athlete; this will serve as a discount ticket to various museums and tourist spots and each time they visit, a stamp will be marked on the passport. Tokens may be given to those who complete all the visits.

Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia has promised to help our visitors tour the Cebu island via a “Suroy-Suroy Sugbo sa Palaro.” Provincial Board Member Glenn Soco wants to make sure that the province will help in the Palaro hosting.

BOND because this is a chance for athletes who are meeting each other for the first time to become friends, to share mobile numbers and Tiktok accounts, and to bond as they share the quest to be future Olympians. Many athletes, particularly those in the elementary level, will be traveling for the first time. It might be the first Cebu Pacific or PAL or Air Asia plane ride for these youngsters. Or their inaugural boat trek. These Palaro athletes are students from Grades 4 to 6 who experienced the pandemic a few years ago. Can you imagine their excitement — thinking not just of competing in the Palaro but also traveling to a new place?

UNITE because as spread out as our archipelago is — split up into 7,107 Islands — we are all united, thanks to Sports. There is no better unifying activity — much better than the combat sport named Politics — than sports. We all unite as one large family, irrespective of our religion or the dialect that we speak.

Imagine the Opening Ceremonies on July 9 at the Cebu City Sports Center, where thousands will parade their region’s uniforms — all thanks to the 2024 Palarong Pambansa.

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