STA. CRUZ, Laguna , Philippines – A barefoot Central Luzon thrower and a pair of double gold medalists from the National Capital Region and Calabarzon took the spotlight yesterday as the Palarong Pambansa officially unwrapped in star-studded rites at the Laguna Sports Complex here.
Central Luzon’s Bryan Pacheco, 17, heaved the six-kg shot put to 15.32 meters on his fifth attempt, smashing by more than a meter and a half the two-year mark of 13.90m set by Western Visayas’ Richard Jey Cabanyug in Lingayen, Pangasinan.
“Hirap ako pag naka-sapatos kaya nag-desisyon ako na tanggalin na lang. Kung hindi ko ginawa yun, hindi ako makakaka-gold (I had a hard time with my shoes on so I decided to just remove it. If I hadn’t done it, I would have not won the gold),” said Pacheco, who has received offers from Perpetual Help and Far Eastern U after graduating from Baler National High School.
The win also served as a redemption for Pacheco, who was on his way to copping the gold ast year in Dumaguete but lost it after Western Visayas’ Renzy John Gemolaga came through with a big final throw to snatch the crown.
“Sinigurado ko na ngayon dahil ayaw ko na maulit pa nangyari sa akin nung isang taon (This time, I made sure I’d win because I don’t want a repeat of what happened last year),” said Pacheco.
Eventual silver and bronze medalists Ronmols Andaya of Zamboanga and Wendell Llames of Calabarzon also surpassed the previous record with 14.46m and 14.07m throws, respectively.
Pacheco will go for a second gold in javelin where he reigned supreme last year, also via a record-setting throw.
NCR’s Daryl Unix Samantila and Calabarzon’s Marie Antoinette San Diego became the first double gold medal winners of this annual multi-sports meet for elementary and high school students after winning the individual and team golds in chess’ blitz competition.
Samantila and San Diego each emerged with perfect seven points in their divisions to top the blitz side then teamed up with Charles Daniel Abuzo and Shania Mae Mendoza, respectively, in ruling the team blitz event.
Central Visayas’ Chris Aldritz Pondoyo and NCR’s Jesca Docena likewise came out with a pair of golds after topping the elementary boys and girls blitz sections while partnering with Jeremy Tanudra and Kylen Joy Mordido in the team event.
Meanwhile, host Gov. Jeorge ER Ejercito-Estregan and former President and current Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada officially declared the weeklong event open in a grand opening rites.
Citing a family emergency, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao begged off at the last minute to grace the opening ceremony attended by TESDA chief Joel Villanueva, Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia and commissioner Jolly Gomez.
Upsets also marred the second day of action as defending champion Western Visayas suffered a 10-13 defeat to Cagayan Valley in secondary baseball over at the Los Baños grounds.
NCR, out to improve its silver medal finish last year, escaped the upset axe as it downed Davao, 10-3, while the Big City bets also made their presence felt in football as it shocked the fancied Western Visayas side with a massive 3-1 win.
Zamboanga walloped Central Luzon, 4-1, in the other featured football contest.
Reigning secondary softball champion Western Visayas, represented by Iloilo, needed six innings to blast Socsargen, 9-2, while Hope Christian School of NCR made short work of Cagayan Valley, 25-10, 25-6, to set in motion its three-peat bid in secondary girls volleyball.
Meanwhile, 16 gold medals will be staked in swimming in Day Three while four golds will be disputed in archery.