Last May 20, 2018, Pentecost Sunday, sixty-six Persons with Special Needs trooped to the Holy Rosary Minor Seminary covered court to join the first Gilean Paralympics in the Archdiocese of Caceres organized by the Gilean Ministry Cluster 5. The participants came from the different parishes belonging to the Cluster (Central District), namely: St. John Evangelist, San Francisco, San Lorenzo Ruiz, San Antonio de Padua, St. Dominic, Holy Cross, St. Jude, Immaculate Conception, Mater Salutis, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Our Lady of Penafrancia. The Gualandi Formation Center for the Hearing Impaired and the Parish of St. John Marie Vianney of San Ramon, Iriga City joined the event.
Of the 66 participants, 36 were males and 30 females, with ages ranging from 11-47. 27 participants were below 20 years old; 29 between the ages of 20-40; and 10 above 40 years old. The games covered track events, ballgames, and board games played by 5 teams: Faith, Joy, Love, Hope and Humility. Each team was composed of 2 to 3 parishes.
The Opening Ceremony, begun at 9:30 a.m., included a court parade, messages, torch lighting and flag raising. Mrs. Lilia Cea, one of the coordinators of the Immaculate Conception Parish, led the opening prayer, with Sr. Sheryl Guatis handling the sign language. Kgd Elmer Baldemoro, S/P Committee Head for Persons with Disabilities for the City of Naga, in his message, explained Naga City’s program of Inclusive Education for PWD’s to enable them to join the mainstream of Education Program in public schools in the city. In preparation for its implementation, the city sent teachers for training in handling special cases. One faculty member for each grade level, from Kindergarten to Grade 10, from every school was trained.
The Paralympics included Track Events: 100 Meter Run, Long Jump, and Shot Put. 14 of the 25 participants in all the track competition won major prizes. Board games like Chess and Scrabble were held simultaneously.
At 11:00 a.m., Fr. Jaime Danilo Viola, Director of the Gilean Ministry officiated the Eucharistic Celebration. In his Pentecost homily, Fr. Viola stressed the importance of diverse gifts under one Spirit; individual call to service, and the attitude of thanksgiving for the most important gift of God: Life.
The games resumed after lunch with the competitions in Basketball, Bucce, Badminton, and Table Tennis. The Board games continued. At 4:00 p.m., the Awarding Ceremony started. All 60 medals were given to the winners. The over-all champion was TEAM LOVE composed of the Parishes of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Carolina), Our Lady of Peñafrancia and San Antonio de Padua (Camaligan).
The activity was first conceived a year ago by Cluster 5 Head, Dr. Ma. Asuncion Quimlat and ICP Gilean Ministry President, Mr. Mellard Japson. Taking a different turn from the usual passive events in the past, the group was challenged to organize the event.
While the coordinators accomplished well their assigned tasks, two persons had were instrumental to the success of the Paralympics: Mr. Mellard Japson and Engr. Dan Cea.
Mr. Japson, the Special Education Coordinator for all Disabilities of Camarines Sur National High School, has been a coach for Philspada, Palarong Bicol Paragames and Palarong Pambansa Paragames, winning gold, silver, bronze awards. He is also active as trainer and resource speaker in Training Workshops and Congresses on Differently-abled Athletics and Special Events as well as in the “Dialogues with the Blind Community”. For him, it is a privilege to serve the differently-abled children who inspire him to go on learning and teaching.
Engr. Cea, also of the Immaculate Conception Parish, was the able assistant of Mr. Japson during the games. Mr. Cea, an Administrative Officer of the Mayor’s Office, is himself an athlete. He was instrumental to the successful partnership of the Church through the Gilean Ministry and the City Government through Mayor John Bongat in this particular event. Eng. Cea observed: “The activity, like sailing in unchartered seas for most of us, was a success because everyone put in their best efforts to make it enjoyable for our brothers and sisters in Christ”.
The Cluster is also blessed to have Ms. Yaga Ballon, coordinator of Holy Cross Parish and member of PDAO. The PDAO through its officer-in-charge, Mr. Christopher Molin, extended assistance to the group during the activity.
The event was a success considering the turnout of 88% of expected participants, 66/75. All other parameters for the event were assessed as well-organized. But more then all these, the participants showcasing their talents and skills, their competitive spirit and enthusiasm to join and win the games were remarkable. The smiles, twinkle in their eyes, and body language left marks on the organizers and coordinators, gave them inspiration to continue serving and encouraging them to be active citizens and parishioners.
The Gilean Ministry Cluster 5 dreams that the Paralympics’ experience will not end in the event but earn the confidence of the participants and motivate them to avail of the city’s services on the Education Program.