By Connie B. Destura
LEGAZPI CITY, 10Feb2017 — Despite the challenges confronted by their home province after it was ravaged by super typhoon Nina on Christmas Day last year, young athletes from public elementary and high schools of Catanduanes managed to join Palarong Bicol 2017 even if their contingent had the least number of delegates compared to the other provinces and cities in the region.
Schools Division Superintendent Socorro Dela Rosa said they managed to bring together to the regional games some 229 delegates to represent the province which is known as the “Isle of the Howling Winds” for being in the path of strong typhoons that perennially hit the Bicol region.
She said the division’s contingent to this year’s edition of the regional athletic meet, that started on Sunday and will close on Friday, included 117 athletes and 112 coaches, school heads and trainers.
There are an estimated 7,200 athletes from 13 schools divisions from the six provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes and seven cities of Legazpi, Ligao, Tabaco, Iriga, Sorsogon, Naga and Masbate in the Bicol region who joined the games.
The Albay Schools Division sent the most number to the games with 850 delegates, followed by Ligao City with 846 and Naga City with 720, who competed in 22 events in the games, that included indigenous sports such as sepak tekraw, futsal, arnis and wushu.
Two events, wushu and wrestling, which used to be demonstration sports in the games, became regular events in this year’s games.
“Our athletes managed to join only a limited number of ballgames such as softball, baseball, football and basketball and some athletics, because of the damage caused by the typhoon,” according to Dela Rosa.
Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua, who visited the province’s athletes here, said there were 439 classrooms destroyed during the typhoon with a few so-called temporary learning structures already built to allow the students to resume their classes.
According to the state weather bureau which placed the province under tropical cyclone warning signal No. 4, the typhoon, which had gustiness of 235 kilometers (146 miles), first made a landfall in Catanduanes at 6:30 p.m. In the aftermath, the province’s power supplier, said it would be able to fully restore electricity in all the barangays only after two months.
“I am very proud of you for showing the Bicol region how strong we are, for showing them that we can make it. We never say no to a challenge. I congratulate you,” Cua told the young athletes in their billeting school in this city.
Dela Rosa said their athletes were able to practice for only two weeks prior to the games.
She said, however, that they were able to display the resilient trait for which Catandunganons are known for after learning to get up each time a typhoon strikes their province, where beaches that lie in Bicol’s eastern coasts facing the Pacific Ocean are known as a surfer’s paradise.
“We are very resilient and we have grown with the typhoon,” said Dela Rosa, echoing the theme of this year’s games: “Harmonizing Life Skills, Celebrating Resiliency Through Sports.”
She said to encourage the competitive spirit of their young athletes, school officials tell them during their practice to give their best.
“We tell them that we are ready to fight and make our fellow Catanduanganons proud,” she added.
Dela Rosa said, “even with the least number of athletes who could join them, we chose those with potentials and “willing to participate.”
An independent tally of the medals earned by the contingents that was made by local online publication Bicol Standard at the end of the first day of the regional meet showed Albay and Ligao City winning one gold medal each; Camarines Sur with two silver medals, and Sorsogon City with one silver medal; and Albay and Camarines Norte getting one bronze medal each.
The winners in Palarong Bicol 2017 will represent the region to the 60th edition of Palarong Pambansa 2017 in San Jose de Buenavista City of Antique province come April 10-16. Bicol’s delegates will compete against the 17 regions across the country. (PNA)