The 2022 Batang Pinoy athletes pose for a photo with Mayor Lucilo Bayron after they were presented on Monday morning at the City Hall. | Photo by Jah Quimpan

Puerto Princesa City and the province of Palawan will join the 2022 Batang Pinoy national championships, which will be held in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, from December 17-21.

Three years after the pandemic, the city will send 20 and the province 30 delegates to the national youth sports competition.

Atty. Rocky Austria, head of the City Sports Office (CSO), said Monday during the flag-raising ceremony at the City Hall that athletes from Puerto Princesa will join the 15-under multi-sports event.

“Tayo po ay dadayo sa Vigan, Ilocos [Sur,] at ikinararangal ko na iharap sa inyo itong ating mga panlaban na tinatawag nating ambassador ng good will doon… dahil ang Puerto, ayon sa mga taga Ironman ay may tatak na mabait. Trademark na natin yon, at yon ang dadalhin natin doon,” Austria said.

Delegates from Palawan at the Puerto Princesa International Airport pose for a photo before their departure. | Photo by Palawan Provincial Information Office

“Umaasa kami, tayong lahat dito, na pag-uwi nila sana naman ay maraming medalya… baka excess baggage kami dahil mabigat ang medalya,” he said.

In a separate interview with Palawan News, Austria said 20 athletes and coaches will leave to travel to Vigan City on December 15 for the national championship on December 17.

According to him, the small number of athletes compared to the past, will be competing in archery, swimming, cycling, chess, and badminton.

“Konti rin lang kasi ang na-identify na sporting events kaya konti ang delegates,” Austria explained.

As a result of the pandemic, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is required to adhere to certain COVID-19 protocols, which has resulted in the elimination of contact sports from this year’s iteration of Batang Pinoy.

Archery, athletics, badminton, chess, cycling, table tennis, swimming, weightlifting, and obstacle course are among the sports that will be played in person, according to the PSC. Matches in arnis, dancesport, judo, karate, muay, pencak selat, taekwondo, and wushu will be played virtually.

“After COVID-19 ito pa lang kasi yong last ay dito sa atin. I have to be there kasi yong turn over, hindi makakapunta si Mayor [Lucilo] Bayron,” he said.

Due to the ongoing restrictions placed on sports, Austria stated that this year’s national games will be challenging for the delegates of the city because they did not have sufficient time to prepare for the competition by practicing.

He added that the athletes’ academic success was more important to the Department of Education (DepEd) than allowing them to participate in demanding training.

Despite these, he highlighted the significance of Puerto Princesa’s participation, citing the fact that it was the last location to play host to Batang Pinoy.

“But next time, there will be more selection and training,” he said.

In the last Batang Pinoy in Puerto Princesa, Austria said swimming contributed the most medals to the city’s total.

The athletes were wished well by Mayor Bayron, who also encouraged them to set a good example by practicing good sportsmanship so that the city would be proud of them.

“Sa mga atleta na papunta sa Vigan, Ilocos Sur… sa mga kabataan, maging modelo kayo at maging magandang ehemplo ng isang disiplinadong mamayan ng lungsod ng Puerto Princesa. Para kahit papaano ay maipagmamalaki natin na iba talaga ang mga kabataan ng Puerto Princesa,” he said.

Thirty delegates from the province, on the other hand, had already left for the national games on December 11, according to the Palawan Provincial Information Office. They were accompanied by OIC Sports Division chief Janella Beltran.

“Tatlumpung mga atleta mula sa mga bayan ng Bataraza, Quezon, Sofronio Española, at Araceli ang makikipagtagisan ng galing sa larangan ng table tennis, badminton, at athletics,” the PIO said.

Over 7,000 athletes, coaches, officials, parents, and spectators are expected to arrive in Vigan City for this year’s national championships. Batang Pinoy was established when President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, who was in office at the time, signed Presidential Executive Order No.44 on December 2, 1998.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.