MANILA, Philippines – The 2014 edition of the Palarong Pambansa officially opened on Monday at the new Laguna Sports Complex, with the province hosting over 11,200 athletes from 80 provinces as well over 1,000 technical officials.
The colorful, star-studded opening ceremony was attended by high-profile athletes including Olympic figure skater Michael Martinez, Rain or Shine guard Jeric Teng, La Salle star Jeron Teng and former UAAP swimmer Enchong Dee.
Also present at the opening ceremonies were Laguna Governor ER Ejercito, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro.
The event was highlighted by the parade of athletes as well as the unveiling of a statue of national hero Jose Rizal.
Prior to Monday’s opening, Ejercito said they wanted to raise the bar as far as opening ceremonies go to inspire future hosts of the Palarong Pambansa.
“Ngayon, ako Lasalista din ako, pareho kami ni Bro. Armin, at nag-uusap kami na (gusto namin) pagandahin,” said Ejercito. “Para magaya ng ibang lalawigan, ng mga bayan at lungsod, para maitaas din nila ang bar of excellence.”
“Tinaas na namin ang level eh. So kung hindi man nila mahigitan next year, mapantayan sana nila ang ginagawa namin dito sa lalawigan ng Laguna,” he added.
There will be 27 events and four demonstration sports in this year’s Palaro, to be held in various venues across the province.
Many of the events will be held at the new, 19-hectare sports complex, which boasts state-of-the-art facilities, according to Ejercito, including a rubberized oval and a lighting system that will allow athletes to play at night.
There are also 37 billeting quarters – 27 for athletes and 10 for technical officials -- as well as over 1,000 doctors on call.
“Ayaw nating maulit ang nangyari sa mga nakaraang Palarong Pambansa, na nagkaroon ng food poisoning, nagkaroon ng water poisoning at dehydration,” said Ejercito. -- With reports from Raffy Santos and TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News