By NIMROD NL QUIÑONES
I have been asked this question a few times last weekend: How come we can win in the PNG (Philippine National Games) and not the Palaro?
This question cropped up in a few conversations with sports leaders and even ordinary people, so I decided to write this.
Let me first give you some basics about the PNG and the Palarong Pambansa.
The PNG is initiated by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) with the National Sports Associations (NSA) running the competitions of the different events.
Athletes competing in the PNG carry the colors of their cities, towns or provinces. National team members and even those from other areas can opt to play for a particular team by virtue of birth or residence or place of work or study.
The Palarong Pambansa is the annual national championships for athletes who are in high school and grade school and this is initiated and run by the Department of Education. Participants go through a series of competitions – District, Division, and Region – in order to earn the right to compete in the Palaro.
The teams competing in the Palaro are the various regional athletic associations under the organization of the DepEd.
The format of the competition and the qualifying process make the PNG and the Palaro distinct from each other.
If you are wondering how come Cebu City won the overall title in last week’s PNG, here are a few facts:
1. As host city, Cebu City was able to field more athletes, but still had to go with the rule of maximum of two competitors per event.
2. As host city, our athletes are more familiar with the environment and had more time to practice at the venue of the competition.
3. Since the National Capital Region (NCR), which always dominates the Palarong Pambansa has been broken down into several LGUs, Cebu City had a better chance of competing for the overall title.
4. If we add the total medal haul of the NCR teams with that of the Central Visayas and Western Visayas teams in the PNG, those from the capital had a bigger total haul. The competition, however, is by region so adding the haul of each LGU does not matter.
5. Cebuano athletes, who are now based in Manila or are members of the national team, can opt to play for their home city.
Cebu schools have constantly been complaining about how the schools in Manila are getting our best athletes by offering them scholarships and other perks.
This has always tilted the balance in the Palarong Pambansa to the favor of the NCR Athletic Association (NCRAA). The same cannot be said of the PNG.
Cebu City’s overall victory, the fourth place finish of Cebu Province and the fifth place finish of Mandaue City proved that we are doing the right things in terms of developing our athletes.
There is no perfect system in place as here we have to do what we can with the limited resources available.
Let us continue supporting our athletes and the real sports programs that are being implemented by the local government units and the legitimate sports organizations.
Congratulations also to the organizers of PNG 2018 for a job well done!