DUMAGUETE CITY—The 2013 Palarong Pambansa unfurled here yesterday with a promise of cash incentives to standouts of the weeklong competition among elementary and high school athletes.
Education Secretary Armin Luistro announced that, for the first time ever, the Palaro will reward outstanding athletes with monetary gains to underscore its goal of drawing the best efforts among 10,000 raw talents that converged here and made this quaint, coastal university city into a bustling hub of youthful activity.
“This is another facet of public-private partnership wherein we don’t just build classrooms for them, we also help build their character through sports development,” Luistro said during the opening ceremony that began with a lengthy parade of participants from the famous Silliman University to the main venue of Mariano Perdices sports complex.
“Reward comes to those who worked for it,” Luistro said.
There will be 17 sports events in elementary and 19 in high school that will be staged starting today in the weeklong competition being held for the first time in Negros Oriental. Debuting this year in the Palaro calendar is futsal in elementary and wushu and billiards in high school.
Luistro didn’t say how much the incentives will be but added that the money will come from private sponsors which have so far pledged P2 million.
The Palaro is one of the biggest budgeted sporting events with P136.5 million allocated for the actual staging of the event. Of the actual budget, P68.8 was earmarked for the division and regional meets which served as qualifying for the Palaro.
The 17 competing regions, led by perennial champion National Capital Region, will compete under a format that gives 15 points to gold medalists in individual events, and 25 points to team champions.
With Southern Tagalog broken up into Region 4A (Calabarzon) and Region 4B (Mimaropa), the Big City has been lording it in the overall race with strong showing in gold-heavy events like track and field and swimming and perennial supremacy in gymnastics, archery, taekwondo, basketball and football.
Western Visayas will again be NCR’s toughest rival in track and field, while Calabarzon is a force to reckon with in swimming. Boxing is tossup among Davao, Region 10 and Manny Pacquiao’s Socksargen.