There are only eight days to go, and the provincial government here is dead serious about providing the most professional, thoroughly prepared Palarong Pambansa. Since winning the bid last November, work has progressed at an accelerated rate in the venues, billetting areas, media center, equipment and other resources for the close to 8,000 student-athletes and the parents, teachers, local government officials and media who will converge on the provincial capital.
What makes this edition of the national games so ambitious is how hard the organizers have tried to make sure the whole world is able to connect with the games.
“This is the most digital Palaro,” said Vangie Padilla of the event’s social media team at a presentation to Manila sports media at the Capitol Resort Hotel Thursday. “No matter where you are in the country or even the world, the parents and family members of the athletes will be able to watch the accomplishments of the kids.”
Pangasinan has dedicated 17 online channels, one for each venue when the games start through www.palarongpambansa2012.com. The events will be shown live throughout the competition which begins May 6, but if you miss any event, replays are also available. An 18th channel, Palaro 2012TV is dedicated to interviews, human interest stories, and other reports. All events will be available to smartphones and other wireless devices, adding accessibility to media covering the games, as well. The province even has a tech team dedicated solely to monitoring all online communications: blogs, Facebook, Twitter, mentions, questions and trends regarding Palaro. They’ll even answer questions about venues, hotels, parking, tourist attractions, and so on.
All that remains now is for the games to actually open.
“At this point, it’s just the really small finishing touches that we’re doing,” added provincial administrator Rafael Baraan. “We’ve made sure that everyone will be taken care of, even though we’re also in the middle of the Pista’y Dayat (Festival of the Sea).”
Security will be a priority. Gov. Amado Espino, the province’s former police director, has pushed for a gun ban throughout the games, high security levels at every venue. Region 1 police will also augment the security for Palaro. Espino has even prohibited swimming along the coastline of Lingayen Gulf for the duration as an added precaution. The main sports complex, Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center, sits on the coast, a short distance from where US Pacific Fleet Commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur first hit land before proceeding to Leyte to fulfill his promise to the Filipino people.
And why does Pangasinan seem to be taking nothing for granted?
“Let’s give importance to the children,” said Espino with great seriousness. “And we want to show that this is how government works, and how we receive our visitors.”
Espino went on to say that it is, in fact, a sacrifice for them, since after they care for the children, they will be recruited by schools from other places, particularly Metro Manila. But nevertheless, Espino is undaunted. After the Palaro, the renovated sports complex will become the home of a sports academy, his long-term vision.
“We will have the continuous training of elementary and high school students at the NRSCC, this is what we mean by benchmark Palaro, changing the way things are done,” Espino explains. “We want to take care of the children, this is not just something we do suddenly, but the whole year round.”
Pangasinan has focused on individual sports like swimming, athletics, martial arts, and even arnis. Espino believes that the natural quickness amd agility of the Filipino will always put him in a position to win. He also added that this will also help even the playing field between public-school kids from the provinces and big-city children who have all the swimming pools, fields and pitches.