BANTAY, Ilocos Sur, April 15 (PIA) -- The largest gathering of young athletes across 17 regions nationwide officially opened Sunday, April 15, at the Quirino Stadium here with President Rodrigo Duterte as the guest of honor and speaker.
The President was welcomed byExecutive Secretary Salavador Medialdea, Bantay Mayor Samuel G.F Parilla, and Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Luis Singson, among other government officialsupon his arrival to the stadium at around 4:30 p.m.
During the opening ceremony, Duterte witnessed the hoisting of the Palarong Pambansa banner, hoisting of regional delegation banners, and lighting of the friendship cauldron.
In his message, Singson, in behalf of the whole province of Ilocos Sur, shared his hope that people's expectation from them in their hosting of the Palarong Pambansa will be fulfilled.
He, however, assured everyone present that they prepared for this year's event.
"We took cautious measures in being able to have our infrastructures and facilities ready that these may be maximized in the games," Singson said.
He added, "Preparation is always a good investment."
For her part, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor M. Briones, welcomed all participants in the most gigantic event of the DepEd which is the Palarong Pambansa.
"Today, Ilocos Sur has drawn more than 15,000 participants from all the regions of the country," she said, citing that Region 4A has the highest number of delegates at more than a thousand.
She likewise took the opportunity toacknowledge the unselfish and consistent support that the President has given not only to the DepEd but education itself.
"It was only during your time, Mr. President, that our department received the highest ever increase budget over a hundred billion, over 35 percent, when you assumed office," Briones said.
In his keynote message, Dutertecongratulated Ilocos Sur province for its efforts to make this much-awaited annual national event a success.
"May the organizers and hosts take this sports competition as an opportunity to promote Ilocano culture and the history of Ilocos Sur, especially as it celebrates its bicentennial anniversary this year," the President said.
The Chief Executive also assured that "the government remains steadfast in promoting physical education, encouraging sports programs and supporting athletes."
To the student-athletes,he told them that being a delegate to the Palarong Pambansa is just one of the many firsts in their journey towards success.
"Embody good values and enhance your skills, for this is the beginning of your greater participation in nation-building," Duterte said, adding that he is looking forward to more of theirsignificant contributions to society in the days to come.
Prior to the arrival of Duterte, the student-athletes in their regional sports attire and color marched their way to the Quirino Stadium in a parade. A skydiving exhibition of the Philippine Army also entertained the crowd while waiting for the President.
The successful opening ceremony ended with a grand firework display and concert of a Filipino band and other artists. (ajc/JNPD/PIA)