LEGAZPI CITY, April 4 (PNA) —- The Bicol delegation of 623 athletes to this year’s Palarong Pambansang in San Jose, Antique, who left at 2 p.m. today (April 4), are expecting to get an over-all finish of fifth place, said a high-ranking official of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Bicol.
Ronald Asis, secretary general of DepEd’s Palaro Board, told a media briefing that there were several reasons why they believed the Bicol contingent, which placed ninth in the medal standings during the 2016 Palarong Pambansa hosted by Albay province, could perform better in this year’s national meet set on April 23 to 29.
He said there are better prospects this year because of the “well-organized” preparations in terms of the selection of athletes, training requirements and budget needs of the participants.
Bicol’s delegation of 623 is composed of 497 athletes and 126 coaching staff and chaperons. Among the 497 athletes, 456 will compete in the regular events, 35 in special events and 6 in demonstration sports.
“A budget of PHp14.66 million has been allocated for the Bicol delegation,” said Asis. Included in this budget is that for transportation--PHp5.2 million; meals--PHp4.7 million; and uniform of athletes, coaching staff, trainors, DepEd officials and chaperons—PHp3 million.
He said DepEd central office has allocated PHp10.11 million to DepEd-Bicol for the Palaro budget while the regional office gave an additional PHp3.7 million as counterpart.
Asis said DepEd-Bicol has an additional fund of PHp 850,000 that was earmarked during the Bicol fun run conducted months ago by the regional office with help from all DepEd schools divisions.
He said they did away with the usual practice of hiring caterers to serve the meals of the delegates this year to cut on costs so that what would be saved could serve as added budget for all the teams’ meals.
Asis said the Palaro Board decided to assign officials from the Masbate schools division to take charge of the meals instead.
He said they expect this year’s athletes from Bicol to excel in the team sports like basketball, baseball and volleyball because of the intensive preparations and trainings for these sports the whole year round.
“Bicol’s athletes never excelled in the team sports events during the (past) Palarong Pambansa but due to the complete equipment and facilities, funding and a big number of good athletes who were selected to compete, Bicol region has a big chance (of getting a good finish),” he added.
The Palarong Pambansa Board officials are hopeful that Bicol’s athletes will get more gold medals in the gymnastics and athletics events.
"We are also hopeful in the arnis, wrestling, wushu, taekwondo and swimming events,” said Asis.
He said there is a big chance for medals, particularly in the arnis event, wherein Bicol’s bet from Tabaco City became a champion and was declared “Batang Pinoy” in the 2015 Palarong Pambansa in Tagum City in Davao.
He said the athlete in the wrestling event who became a silver medalist last year in the 45 kilograms division will compete this year in the 43 kgs. division.
Asis also cited the swimming talents from Legazpi City and the athletics competitors from Ligao City who will gun for medals for the Bicol contingent.
He said, however, that if it is not possible to land in fifth place they have remained hopeful they could get the seventh place.
May Jumamil, public information officer of DepEd-Bicol, said to encourage the athletes to give their best efforts they will give additional incentives for the gold medalists aside from the usual PHp 5,000 incentive.
“Even the schools divisions and local government units in the region have allocated additional funds for the gold, silver and bronze medalists,” she said.
Jumamil said in Antique, all the Bicol delegates, including the faculty and staff, will be billeted in San Pedro National High School and San Pedro Elementary School.
In December, DepEd formed a steering committee that would direct the conduct of the Palarong Pambansa that Antique will host for the first time.
In its website, DepEd said the steering committee is composed Undersecretary Alberto Muyot, Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua, and Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali. (PNA)