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CEBU CITY, Philippines – A total cash prize of P15 million will be up for grabs as the 2018 Philippine National Games (PNG) gets going here in Cebu from May 19 to 25.

The prize will be given to the top 5 teams in the national event featuring 21 sports and 96 local government unit (LGU) delegations.

Luzon will field the most number of teams at 28, followed by Mindanao (27), Visayas (26), and the National Capital Region (15) in the games organized by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

PSC commissioner Ramon "El Presidente" Fernandez, the PNG overall chairman, said the cash prize will serve as PSC’s assistance to the sports programs of the best LGU teams in the week-long event.

National team members will see action, except for the Philippine track and field athletes due to a schedule conflict with the National Open.

According to Fernandez, the PNG was originally set last December but got pushed back due to the “clean up” campaign of the PSC and the national sports associations.

“This is the elite of the elite, the cream of the crop athletes in our country, national team members will represent their LGUs and we envision for the PNG to become the Philippine Olympics,” said Fernandez, who added that the multi-sporting event will later on serve as one of the tryouts for the national teams.

The PNG has been one of PSC’s talent identification program and has also served as an assessment tournament for the national team members’ performance.

Cebuano hospitality

Teams will compete in 21 sports with Cebu hosting athletics, archery, arnis, badminton, boxing, chess, cycling, dancesport, judo, karatedo, sepak takraw, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball, and weightlifting.

Most of the events will be held in the city except for duathlon and triathlon, which will be held in Tabuelan, northwest Cebu; cycling in Danao City, also north of Cebu; and the women’s division of lawn tennis in Naga City, south of Cebu.

Gymnastics and rugby football will be held in Manila due to lack of international standard facilities here.

Joint hosts Cebu City and Cebu Province promised to welcome the teams with warm Cebuano hospitality, but noted that the province will be all business once action kicks off.

“We are the hosts, we want them to feel welcomed in Cebu, but we want to beat them also,” said Cebu City Sports Commission chairman Edward Hayco during a press conference last Thursday, May 17, at the Cebu City Sports Center, where most events will be contested.

Cebu Provincial Sports Commission executive director Atty. Ramil Abing, PSC PNG head secretariat Annie Ruiz and PSC Visayas’ Nonie Lopez also graced the press conference.

Fernandez added that the PSC plans to make PNG a biennial event to align it with the Southeast Asian Games. By doing this, the basketball legend said it will make the PNG more prestigious and turn it into an event that athletes will really look forward to.

Opening ceremonies

As the PNG returns to Cebu after 21 years, it will have no less than Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as the keynote speaker during the opening ceremonies on Saturday afternoon, May 19, at the Cebu City Sports Center. The last time that Cebu hosted the PNG was in 1997.

The President will be joined by Cebu Province Gov. Hilario Davide III and Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.

The opening ceremonies itself will be something to look forward to, according to Ricky Ballesteros, a multi-awarded Milo Little Olympics organizer, who has been tapped to oversee the program.

Ballesteros said the opening program will be an event to remember, noting that it will be very modern but interwoven with the Cebuano culture.

All regional delegations will be highlighted during the parade of athletes in the opening ceremonies, which will feature dancers garbed in regional “lighted” costumes, said Ballesteros.

Ballesteros also promised that the lighting of “the urn of peace and unity” will be unique and will feature Fernandez along with Philippine sports heroes led by Olympic silver medalist and Filipino weightlifting star Hidilyn Diaz. 

Date: May 19, 2018 | By: Mars G. Alison | Newspaper: Rappler | Source: https://www.rappler.com/sports/specials/202824-national-games-philippines-2018-cebu-15-million-prize