BATARAZA, Palawan — Despite heavy rains, the Palarong Panlalawigan 2019 formally opened at the newly-constructed sports complex in Barangay Marangas, Bataraza with over 7,000 people in attendance based on official estimates.

Of the figure, around 6,615 are local government and education officials, sports coaches, and student-athletes from 23 municipalities in Palawan.

Grace Estefano, spokesperson of the Department of Education (DepEd) Schools Division Palawan said 4,069 student-athletes will compete in various sports events in this year’s edition of the provincial meet.

“Aabot ng over 7,000 ang nandito kasi may mga parents din na pumunta dahil curious sila sa bagong sports complex dito. Despite heavy rains, nagbukas na ang Palarong Panlalawigan at handa na ang mga athletang estudyante,” she said.

Different colors represented the municipalities as they paraded around the town proper to the Bataraza Sports Complex with the Palawan Safe Riders and the Philippine Marines Reservist Marshall leading the way.

Bataraza mayor Abraham Ibba said in his speech that completing the sports complex on time was a difficult task but it also united the residents of the town to ensure that all will be welcome.

“I believe that the challenge of hosting the Palarong Panlalawigan brought out the spirit of unity, cooperation, and resourcefulness not only among the Batarazans but also the entire province of Palawan,” he said.

He also expressed his gratitude to the DepEd officials and delegates for their faith in Bataraza’s capacity to host the event.

In a separate interview, Ibba said they will still be hosting the Palarong Panlalawigan next year with more facilities that will be added this year.

“Next year dito pa rin ang provincial meet. Next year ‘yong ating sports complex madadagdagan pa ng mga facilities, mado-doble ‘yan baka apatan na, ladderized na ang ating oval. Sa katunayan, after ng palaro may mga covered courts pa tayong gagawin. Additional na facilities para ang mga athletes natin masisiyahan sa ating venue,” he said.

Meanwhile, Governor Jose Alvarez who was the special guest, did not give a lengthy speech but wished all the delegates to do well in the provincial meet that will last until November 15.

He called on them to value fair and generous behavior or treatment of others during the sports meet before cracking a joke to stop the heavy rains.

“Gusto ba ninyong pa i-stop-in ko ‘yong ulan? Stop! Si Quiboloy pala ‘yon hindi ako, si pastor pala ‘yon, stop! Ang hangin ay lalakas aanurin ang ulan papunta sa bundok, sabi ni pastor stop ang ulan papunta ng bundok, pinapatawa ko lang kayo, kumo paligsahan ito. I wish every one na dalhin nila ang kanilang ninanais na palaruin ‘yon lang ang trabaho ko dito, pahintuin ang ulan. Thank you, thank you,” he said.

Narra mayor Gerandy Danao together with Dr. Edna Cabuhat, district supervisor of Narra Del Norte turned over the Palawan provincial banner to Ibba and Zenaida Castro, district supervisor of Bataraza I.

Kalayaan is the only municipality that is unable to send delegates due to the bad weather.