By Jorge Hallare
LEGAZPI CITY --- The Bicol delegation of 623 athletes to this year’s Palarong Pambansa in San Jose, Antique, who left at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday (April 4), is hoping to romp off with an over-all fifth place finish.
Ronald Asis, secretary general of Bicol DepEd’s Palaro Board, told a media briefing that there were several reasons why they believe the Bicol contingent, which placed 9th in the medal standings during the 2016 Palarong Pambansa hosted by Albay province, could perform better in this year’s national meet that will see action April 23 to 29.
He said there are better prospects this year because of the “well-organized” preparations in terms of the selection of athletes, training requirements and budget needs of the participants.
Bicol’s delegation of 623 is composed of 497 athletes and 126 coaching staff and chaperons. Among the 497 athletes, 456 will compete in the regular events, 35 in special events and 6 in demonstration sports.
“A budget of P14.66M has been allocated for the Bicol delegation,” said Asis. Included in this budget are those for transportation--P5.2M; meals--P4.7M; and uniform of athletes, coaching staff, trainors, DepEd officials and chaperons—P3M.
He said DepEd central office has allocated P10.11M for DepEd-Bicol Palaro budget while the DepEd regional office released additional P3.7M as counterpart.
Asis said DepEd-Bicol has an additional fund of P850,000 that was earmarked during the Bicol fun run conducted months ago by the regional office with help from all DepEd school divisions.
He said they did away this year with the usual practice of hiring food caterers to cut cost where the amount saved would be used to bolster the teams’ added budget for meals.
Asis said the Palaro Board decided to assign officials from the Masbate schools division to take charge of the meals instead.
He said they expect this year’s athletes from Bicol to excel in the team sports like basketball, baseball and volleyball because of the intensive preparations and trainings for these sports the whole year round.
“Bicol’s athletes never excelled in the team sports events during the (past) Palarong Pambansa but due to the complete equipment and facilities, funding and a big number of good athletes who were selected to compete, the Bicol region has a big chance (of getting a good finish),” he added.
The Palarong Pambansa Board officials are hopeful that Bicol’s athletes will get more gold medals in the gymnastics and athletics events.
“We are also hopeful in the arnis, wrestling, wushu, taekwondo and swimming events,” said Asis.
He said there is a big chance for medals, particularly in the arnis event, wherein Bicol’s bet from Tabaco City became a champion and was declared “Batang Pinoy” in the 2015 Palarong Pambansa in Tagum City in Davao.
He said the athlete in the wrestling event who became a silver medalist last year in the 45 kilograms division will compete this year in the 43 kgs. division.
Asis also cited the swimming talents from Legazpi City and the athletics competitors from Ligao City who will gun for medals for the Bicol contingent.
He said, however, that if it is not possible to land in fifth place they have remained hopeful they could get the seventh place.
In the last Palarong Bicol held in this city, which served as the pool for winning athletes that would compose the Bicol delegation, Camarines Sur was declared over-all champion, with Naga City closely trailing as 1st runner-up (over-all second placer). Albay placed 3rd.
May Jumamil, public information officer of DepEd-Bicol, said to encourage the athletes to give their best efforts they will give additional incentives for the gold medalists aside from the usual P5,000 incentive.
“Even the schools divisions and local government units in the region have allocated additional funds for the gold, silver and bronze medalists,” she said.
Jumamil said in Antique, all the Bicol delegates, including the faculty and staff, will be billeted in San Pedro National High School and San Pedro Elementary School.
In December, DepEd formed a steering committee that would direct the conduct of the Palarong Pambansa that Antique will host for the first time.
In its website, DepEd said the steering committee is composed Undersecretary Alberto Muyot, Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua, and Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali. PNA