OROQUIETA CITY, MISAMIS OCC. - Almost 4000 athletes, coaches and officials came to Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental to participate in the Mindanao leg of the Batang Pinoy which opened yesterday at the Misamis Occidental Provincial Athletic Center.

PSC Commissioners Charles Raymond Maxey, Arnold Agustin and Celia Kiram were amazed at the level of preparation of the event.  Agustin, who is oversight commissioner for facilities and an Engineer, commended the hosts for their facilities, “they are very prepared, especially with venues.  Some equipment which is usually just shared by different venues in past editions are provided here per venue.”  Agustin added that there is no doubt that this edition will be a huge success.

Kiram, oversight commissioner for Batang Pinoy, thanked the host for their warm welcome to the delegates of the event.  It would be recalled that the Batang Pinoy Mindanao was rescheduled twice last year due to security  reasons.  “the Batang Pinoy pushing through now is  tangible proof that there is peace in Mindanao,” said Kiram in her welcome speech during the opening ceremonies.

Maxey, who declared the games open during the ceremonies, echoed Kiram’s sentiments and added that the PSC board “hopes that we can find new talents who are just there somewhere, waiting to be discovered.”

The grandiose opening ceremonies was a well-attended affair.  Mayor Jason Almonte of Oroquieta City and Misamis Occidental Governor Herminia Ramiro also welcomed the participants and delegates during their speech.  Ramiro invited everyone to enjoy the lush bounty of their province.  She also assured everyone that the province is safe. Uniformed personnel were very visible in strategic areas of the province in the past days going towards the opening day.

With softball being a strong sport in the area, the Little League Baseball athletes played a role in the ceremonies, lighting the urn of peace and friendship as a team, and pitcher Julry Corales and officiating official Lou Samonte leading the oath of sportsmanship and officiating officials respectively.

PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez, who visited the province about a week ago for the signing of the memorandum of agreement, congratulated the host city and Ramiro for their admirable preparation.  In a message he said that he sends his respects to the hosts and all participants for converging in Oroquieta and joining together as one Mindanao. He also said that “the PSC will not be able to fulfill its mandate to bring sports to all of the country without the valuable partnership of local government units.”

Competitions in Archery, Basketball (boys and girls), karatedo and lawn tennis also opened their competitions yesterday.  A solidarity meeting was also held in the morning to serve as final coordination meeting between technical officials, host city officials, the PSC and team representatives.

Twenty sports and events are set to be contested by athletes from 70 delegations from local governments across the Mindanao region.

Except for dancesport, pencak silat and taekwondo, all sports will commence matches today.