My daughter Jana, who is 12 years old and in Grade 6, competed in the Cebu City Olympics last October. Her sport was tennis. Among the many who swung backhands and volleys, she finished second. She’d represent Cebu City in the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (Cviraa) meet. That came last November when, together with her grandparents Jack and Malu Mendez, we traveled to Dumaguete City for five days. Out of the dozens of elementary girls from Bohol, Tuburan, Dumaguete, Mandaue and more, Jana reached the finals. She lost to Zethley Mae Alferez of Naga. But, by claiming second place, she would represent Region VII. She qualified for the Palaro.
Or so we thought. Because, days after, an announcement was broadcasted: Palarong Pambansa selection was unfinished! What? We were confused.
Fast forward to today—Feb. 6—and still, no final list has been announced. I’m glad Cebu City Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young voiced out his sentiments. Last Thursday, in an article penned by ace writer Marian Baring, VM Young said: “I am very much disappointed. We had targeted to improve the region’s finish in the Palarong Pambansa but the DepEd has decided to choose another path and this is throwing the plan off… It defeats the purpose of holding the regional meet earlier. Mao ra gihapon mura ra ta nag Cviraa og February because until now, we do not have the final list of athletes and it’s already February.”
I have spoken to parents, coaches and even several DepEd officials about this and they, too, are confused. Ruel Dihiansan, my close buddy from the Rotary Club of Cebu West, called me to complain. His daughter, Janel, is one of the best badminton players in this island. Janel qualified for the Palaro. Unfortunately, she was asked to join another “elimination tournament.” But, as Ruel explained, that weekend coincided with Janel’s Juniors-Seniors Prom.
“What if Janel loses?” Ruel asked. Does this mean she’ll no longer go to the Palaro? What use was the Cvriaa? Is this small-time elimination event more important than the regional sports meet?
In another example, a champion gymnast who won in the Cviraa was stricken with fever during the day of the eliminations. He could not join. Does this mean he’s no longer part of the Team Region VII?
Three weeks ago, I sought clarification. Two times, I called the office of Dept. of Education Regional Director Recaredo “Ric” Borgonia. He was in Manila. I left my number and requested for a return call. I mentioned that I was a concerned Cebuano: a parent, a Sun.Star writer, a member of the sports community. We never spoke. (Well, if Vice Mayor Joy Young himself asked to speak to the regional director and got snubbed, I’m not surprised he didn’t entertain my calls.)
Dr. Borgonia, whom I have yet to meet, I am sure, is a fine man. His reputation–as reinforced by Godofredo Roperos’ column last Friday: “I know that Ric is a careful planner himself and is a career executive service officer”–is positive. That is irrefutable.
But, as head of our athletes, he has to be more forthright and clear. He must answer this query: What use was the Cviraa? This supposed “performance evaluation”–postponed twice already (it was originally set two weekends ago)–is a subjective way of choosing athletes.
Sports—anywhere around the world—is successful because of its objectivity. In running, whoever crosses that finish line first wins the gold. In the NBA or PBA or any “liga-liga,” whoever scores more points when the final whistle is blown, wins. In chess, whoever is “check-mated,” loses; in football, the team with more goals wins. Simple. Erasing this objectivity—and replace it with a subjective way of choosing—robs the sport. It’s unfair. It makes the Cviraa useless.
With only 93 days left before Dapitan City lights the torch opening the Palaro, I hope, on this matter, for one thing from the Department of Education: educate us.