Philippine National Games

It was 21 years ago — back in 1997 — when Cebu last hosted the PNG. It’s about time! Shall we have the Palarong Pambansa next? Cebu has not organized the Palaro since 1994. Yes, why not; but that’s another story.

The PNG is, in the words of the lead organizer Ramon Fernandez, “the Olympics of Philippine sports.” The PBA great turned PSC Commissioner Fernandez adds: “This is the elite of the elite, the cream of the crop athletes in our country, national team members will represent their LGUs.”

Who are eligible to join? If you’re a Filipino aged 16 and above, you can participate. Just enlist yourself under a specific city or province and, if you’re one of their best, you can compete. Participation is for free.

Pres. Digong Duterte was scheduled to open the PNG yesterday at the Abellana grounds. The Opening Ceremony, we are sure, was another spectacular show — thanks to Ricky Ballesteros, who has organized dozens of the country’s best presentations, ranging from the Milo Olympics to the Sinulog.

The PNG games run from May 19 to 25 and will be played mostly in Cebu City (except for softball at the Mactan Airbase, triathlon and duathlon in Tabuelan, cycling in Danao, and women’s tennis in Naga). Only two sports, gymnastics and rugby football, will be played in Manila because of our lack of facilities here.

If you’re a mall-goer, SM Seaside City will host arnis, karatedo, judo and taekwondo. Robinsons Galleria will host chess, dancesport and table tennis.

There will be 21 sports played: athletics, archery, arnis, badminton, boxing, chess, cycling, dancesport, judo, karatedo, sepak takraw, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball, and weightlifting.

Interestingly, two of our country’s most famous games — basketball and football — are excluded.

It’s great to see that the city and province are teaming up for this major co-hosting job. Edward Hayco of Cebu City and Atty. Ramil Abing representing the province have joined forces. This tandem is formidable; Ed and Ramil are passionate, selfless, sports-loving and organized.

The PNG as a national event is important. It serve as an avenue for the national teams to choose their top performers. Based on the Cebu results, many will wear our Phil. uniform to compete abroad.

In all, over 3,000 competitors will be competing in this 7-day sportsfest. PSC’s Ramon Fernandez plans for the PNG to be a biennial meet, similar to that of the SEAG (which the Philippines is hosting next year).

The winning athletes will receive medals and accolades. But they’re not the only recipients of awards. The PNG will also serve as competition for the Local Government Units. There will be 96 LGUs joining with the top LGU receiving P5 million (that will go to their sports program) of the total P15 million in sporting assistance.

Cebu is proud to welcome and host the PNG.

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