Thursday, January 23, 2014

Last-minute preparations for Palarong Bicol underway

Athletes in Naga City listen to a trainor during the concentration for the Palarong Bicol in Naga City
Athletes and training staff from the six provinces of the region are now busy with their last-minute preparations for the Palarong Bikol 2014.

The sporting activity will take place on February 2 to 7, 2014 at Catanduanes Sports Complex, Virac, Catanduanes.

This year’s host is the Department of Education (DepEd) Division of Catanduanes in partnership with the Provincial Government of the province. Last year, Catanduanes likewise played host to the annual event.

Participants from the twelve divisions of DepEd Bicol will gather in Catanduanes. Among these divisions are Naga City, Iriga City, Camarines Sur, Legaspi City, Ligao City, Tabaco City, Albay, Masbate Province, Masbate City, Sorsogon City, Camarines Norte as well as the host province.
The Palarong Bikol generally aims to promote sports, which DepEd deems to be a good avenue for encouraging values such as self-discipline, teamwork, excellence, and friendship.

Seventeen sports events are open this year, including archery, arnis, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, chess, football, gymnastics (artistic and rhythmic), sepak takraw, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, and volleyball. Of these, archery and boxing are exclusive to the high school participants. These events are further separated into categories for boys and girls.

Apart from the regular events, the Palarong Bikol 2014 has a special event tournament, in which pupils who are visually impaired, amputees, or have intellectual disability, may participate in events such as athletics, goal ball, bocce/boccia, and swimming.

Budgetary shortfall

Meanwhile, reports have it that the province of Catanduanes is trying to make ends meet with a meager budget as compared to last year’s P50 million fund.

Already, the Provincial Government and DepEd are adopting cost-cutting measures to stretch the available funds to cover expenses such as food, training, and uniforms, among others.

A local newspaper reports, for instance, that the training of athletes has been curtailed by ten days. The organizers have likewise opted for hiring cooks instead of caterers because of the financial constraints.

It will be recalled that last year, the province of Catanduanes, which also hosted the Palarong Bikol, received a budget of P50 million from the Palace.

This year, however, securing funding is much more difficult. This is mainly because of the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), from which a large percentage of the budget last year was drawn.

Of last year’s budget, the organizers have a remaining P7.9 million in savings, which will be added to this year’s budget.

DepEd and the League of Municipalities have also pledged additional financial assistance for the costs of the sporting activity.

Participant woes

Parents of athletes have voiced out concerns over the Palarong Bikol this year.

Some have expressed worries over the health of the delegates. It will be recalled that last year, some 100 participants of the Palarong Bikol from the city of Naga suffered from diarrhea because of the contaminated water that they drank.

Some also find it inconvenient to travel to the island province, as most of the delegates are from mainland Bicol.

Still others are worried over the bad weather conditions that may make travelling across a portion of the Pacific Ocean dangerous for the participants.
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