MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III on Monday promised to give full support to Filipino athletes as he led the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Palarong Pambansa at the Narciso Ramos Sports Complex in Lingayen, Pangasinan.
In his speech, Aquino congratulated the Filipino athletes who will be competing in the 2012 Palarong Pambansa, while at the same time challenging them to serve as role models to the Filipino youth.
“Saludo ako sa inyo, at nawa’y maging mabuting halimbawa kayo sa kapwa n’yo kabataan, at nawa’y maging bukal kayo ng inspirasyon sa iba pa ninyong kababayan,” Aquino said.
He also promised that his government will continue to support the development of the country’s sports programs.
“Asahan naman ninyo na patuloy ang suporta ng inyong pamahalaan sa pagpapabuti at pagpapaigting sa larangan ng sports sa bansa,” Aquino said.
“Para sa Palarong Pambansa 2012, naglaan ang Department of Education ng mahigit P200 million. Ito po ay para matiyak na sapat ang kagamitan ng ating mga atleta at masigurong tatakbo ng maayos ang paligsahan,” he added.
Aquino revealed that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) has already laid out the roadmap for Philippine sports for 2011 until 2016.
“Kabilang dito ang tinatawag nating ‘focused sports policy,’ kung saan tutukan ang pagpapaunlad sa ilang napipiling larangan,” he said.
Among the sports included in the policy are boxing, taekwondo, athletics, swimming, archery, wushu, weightlifting and billiards.
“Halos P200 million po ang tinataya nating annual remittance sa ilalim ng national sports development fund ang ilalaan para sa pagpapaunland ng mga sports na nabanggit,” Aquino added.
Aquino also lighted the Palarong Pambansa torch, which was held by PBA star Danny Ildefonso, himself an alumnus of the Palarong Pambansa and a native of Pangasinan.
Also present in the opening ceremonies were former President Fidel V. Ramos, former Senator Ernesto Maceda, and Philippine Olympic Committee President Peping Cojuangco.
The ceremony began with a cultural performance before the athletes from the different regions of the country marched into the sports complex.
“Itong Palarong Pambansa ang angsisilbing pinakamalaking entablado upang maipamalas ng lahing Pinoy ang kanyang angking kagalingan sa larangan ng palakasan,” Aquino said.
He added that it was in the Palarong Pambansa were athletes who can represent the Philippines in international competitions would be discovered.
Aquino noted that Filipino athletics legends Lydia de Vega and Elma Muros, basketball stars Ildefonso and Marlou Aquino as well as Azkals player Chieffy Caligdong were discovered in the Palarong Pambansa. – Reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; Joanna Tacson, ABS-CBN News North Central Luzon