President bares new sports road mapBy Gabriel Cardinoza
Inquirer Northern Luzon
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—President Aquino opened this year’s Palarong Pambansa here on Monday by discussing his administration’s sports road map designed to prepare athletes for the international sports arena with the right training and equipment.
Speaking at the Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center here, Mr. Aquino said his administration has alloted P200 million to implement the 2011-2016 Philippine Sports Road Map after setting aside P200 million for this year’s Palaro.
The road map is guided by a “focused policy,” which will center on a select set of sports like boxing, taekwondo, athletics, swimming, wushu, archery, wrestling, bowling, weightlifting and billiards.
“[The program’s budget] represents 33 percent of the expected annual remittance under the national sports development fund,” Mr. Aquino said.
Last year, the Philippine Sports Commission re-launched Batang Pinoy, a program seeks to shape the character of today’s youths through sports.
“We are also relaunching the Philippine National Games as a national tryout [avenue] for athletes from the grassroots level to give them a chance to play in the national team,” Mr. Aquino said.
The national games will be hosted by Dumaguete City this month.
Mr. Aquino said his administration has also allotted P5 million for athletic meets that are dedicated to persons with disabilities.
The President, who made his first public appearance in a sporting event since becoming President in 2010, also rallied the 10,000 Palaro athletes from the different regions to “continue to aspire.”
Mr. Aquino said that in the past six decades, the Palaro had served as the launching pad for Filipino athletes in international sports events.
Delivering his speech in Filipino, the President said he knows how much time and effort they are exerting to get to the Palaro ranks.
“You didn’t wake up as champions, but you gave time and effort to become what you are,” said the President before a huge crowd that braved the noontime heat at the Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center. “Your sacrifices will pay off as you perform on a bigger stage and take on the challenges in life.”
Fits of coughs halted his speech several times as he had to clear his throat. He elicited laughter when he said he should join the athletes in physical fitness more often, and that somebody might be thinking of him at that moment.
Mr. Aquino was helicoptered to the historic Lingayen gulf air strip which served as landing zone for Allied forces at the height of World War II.
Present during the opening ceremonies were Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco Jr. PSC chair Richie Garcia and PSC commissioner Jolly Gomez who lauded what they called as a renewed “focus on youth and sports development.” With a report from Marc Anthony Reyes