2017 Palarong Pambansa Message of Usec. Alain Pascua

April 30, 2017

A Palarong Pambansa of Firsts
2017 Palarong Pambansa Closing Ceremonies
April 29, 2017

Maayad ayad nga hapon ka ninyong tanan! Magandang hapon po sa kanilang lahat!

This year’s Palarong Pambansa is in many ways a first for many of us – it is the first time for the Province of Antique to host, the first palaro for the Duterte administration, and the first for Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones. This is my first Palaro too. But for a first, this year’s Palaro has certainly exceeded everybody’s expectations. 

We were very lucky to have been able to stay behind and go around Antique and witness the sporting events these past several days. We have seen our talented student athletes compete and give it their all, and what a sight it has been to behold.

First, we would like to congratulate all the medalists. We are all very proud of you. But we believe that the most compelling stories in this year’s Palaro have nothing to do about medals, and they all happen to be firsts too!

A few days ago, social media was abuzz about the story of a family who drove over a thousand kilometers from their home just to see their son compete and box in the Palaro. Boxing had just been resumed as a regular sport.

Matthew Jade Tapang of Davao Region has been preparing himself and is looking forward to win a medal in the elementary category of the Boxing event. All the while, his family had just borrowed money and decided to travel all the way from Kidapawan, on board their tricycle, to show him support. His determination, and the support of his family inspired us all.

Meanwhile, SOCCSKSARGEN’s Angel Dolor was eagerly competing in the Billiards event two days ago. Just a few years ago, she was out of school, but now she finds herself pitted against the country’s best, as Billiards made its debut as a regular sport this year. She credits her love for competition and sports, especially billiards, as one of the reasons why she worked hard to make her way back into school.

And throughout the Palaro, Western Visayas and Antique’s very own Ivan Jake Villanueva was diligently covering the events through his lens. Just a few months ago, he was part of the National Schools Press Conference and now he finds himself in the thick of the biggest annual youth sporting event in the country. This is a first for the Palaro, tapping our own campus journalists and providing them the training and the opportunity to showcase their talents.

During the swimming events, we saw how Bhay Newberry and Jonalyn Hernando, both from CALABARZON, won the crowd, despite finishing in far ends of the ranking. We saw the awe of the crowd at the power and grace of Bhay as she won her first gold, but Jonalyn was equally inspiring in defeat, as  she proved to everyone that she definitely deserves to compete in the Palaro.

 Everywhere we went, we found plenty of inspiring and heart-warming stories. Sometimes we feel that we get too lost in the moment and in the heat of competition that we forget to stop and see what is happening around us. 

We look at the Officials and we see how they brave the heat, the long hours, and fatigue, and how they go above and beyond their means just to make sure that the events run smoothly. 

We see the parents who did everything to make their way all the way to Antique just to see their children compete and show their support. We see that despite overbooked flights, grueling travel by ship, and long arduous trips by land, they managed to come here for each and every one of you.

We see the regional directors, the superintendents, the teachers, and the rest of the contingents and how they look after each other. We see the effort they put in to make sure that you are all comfortable as possible, that you have plenty of food to eat, and that you are all looked after before, during, and after your events.

We saw the love and thoughtfulness of the people of Antique, and the warmth of their hospitality. Teacher Excelsa Edejer and her co-teachers of Bugasong Elementary School exemplies that warmth when they repeatedly sang, “There’s a welcome here, there’s a welcome there, there’s a warm warm welcome here!” Repeatedly they sang that song with joy and gladness.

Yes, our Palarong Pambansa was a first for many reasons, but again, it exceeded everybody’s expectations, and was truly a special event from start to finish. There were challenges, yes, but what would life be without challenges?

Our dear Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said it best, “Life is not interesting without challenges!”

The challenge therefore is to always look for the next challenge. We need to seek out what is out there, because if we fail to challenge ourselves then we become stagnant.

We at DepEd are looking at the challenge of improving Palarong Pambansa by planning ahead. For instance, we are looking at the possibility of securing venues for subsequent events ahead of time, as early as July 2017, in order to have ample time for preparation.

Also, like the multimedia workshop held for our campus journalists, we are looking at getting more Palaro alumni involved in the future by having them share their experiences to our student athletes. Let’s invite the likes of Senator and Boxing Champ Manny Pacquiao talk to our student boxers, Champ Elma Muros meet with our track and field athletes, and other Palaro stars.

To our dear student athletes here today, we challenge you to find something to improve on every day. Learning should always be a conscious effort on your part, whether through your sport, or in life. Winning should never be an excuse for you to stop learning and improving.

Lalong paigtingin ang dedikasyon sa inyong larangan at balang araw ay maging tulad kayo ni Elma Muros-Posadas at ibang pang palarong pambansa greats na nag bigay karangalan sa ating bansa. At pinaka importante ay ang inyong puso ay dapat nasa laro. 

As our first-ever Palarong Pambansa Parangal Lifetime Achievement awardee Elma Muros said: "Strive not only to win, but also to give honor to the country. Don't waste the opportunity that DepEd is giving.  Yung galing nyo, ilabas nyo. Balang araw magiging Elma Muros, Lydia de Vega, Akiko Thomson, Onyok Velasco at Manny Pacquiao kayo."

It is a challenge also to the Philippine Sports Commission to train further and develop the winners and stars of Palarong Pambansa and hone them into national atletes who will carry forward the banner of the Palaro, transform that banner into the Philippine flag, and represent the country in the world of regional and international competitions like the SEA Games and the Olympics!

For the rest of you we say, that losing can be the best teacher in life, and that you learn more in defeat than in victory.

To our distinguished guests today, the honorable Senator Franklin Drilon; our gracious host, the honorable Governor Rhodora Cadiao and RD Gemma Ledesm; to the Palarong Pambansa Deputy Secretary-General and DepEd Sports Division Chief Cesar Abalon; and to all the Regional Directors, Schools Division Superintendents, Supervisors, Principals, Teachers, Coaches, Officials, Family, Student Journalists, Partners, and most of all to our athletes and the people of Antique, mabuhay po kayo, maraming salamat po!

Tiring banay! Kruhaaay! Fly high Antique! See you in the next Palarong Pambansa in Luzon!