Palarong Pambansa kicks off in Laguna

By Joey Villar, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 04 2014 01:28 PM | Updated as of May 04 2014 09:28 PM

STA. CRUZ, Laguna, Philippines – More than 11,000 athletes, coaches and technical officials from 17 regions converge in this town capital for the 2014 Palarong Pambansa which kicks off tomorrow at the newly refurbished Laguna Sports Complex.

Boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and former President, now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada will lead a mix of sports and movie personalities invited to lead the torch relay to drumbeat the 57th edition of the annual sports conclave, which goes high-tech for the first time with telecommunications and wi-fi connections to be provided by PLDT Home Broadband.

There will also be live streaming of the games in three SM Malls in the province.

Pacquiao and Estrada and Technical Education and Skills Developmnent Administration (Tesda) chairman Joel Villanueva have been invited to grace the opening which gathers student-athletes who will compete in 27 sports, including the centerpiece events of athletics and swimming.

An adopted son of Laguna who lives in Biñan, Pacquiao will also serve as anchor in the torch relay along with Olympic figure skater Michael Martinez, young actor Enchong Dee, cager James Yap and Jericho Estregan – the son of Gov. Ejercito who skippers the track and field team of De La Salle University.

Television personalities Dyan Castillejo and Ginger Conejeros will join basketball brothers Jeric and Jeron Teng as hosts in the opening ceremonies that will be preceded with a colorful land float parade, opening of trade fair and parade of athletes at the Laguna Sports Complex track oval.

Hosting the event for the first time, the local government of Laguna refurbished all 16 playing venues, including the 1,500-seat grandstand, rubberized track oval, football field, softball and baseball diamonds, archery and rifle range, air-conditioned basketball gym and an Olympic-size swimming pool with 2,500 seating capacity.

It will house athletes and technical officials in 37 public schools in Famy, Pila, Liliw, Los Baños, Nagcarlan, Magdalena, Pangil, Victoria and Pagsanjan. Some 400 policemen and 800 medical personnel will also be deployed for the event.