By Mark Angelo Mañez


MANILA, Philippines -- The Department of Education is looking to hold the Palarong Pambansa virtually, after suspending the event last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Director Joel Erestain said Tuesday that they are studying the possible sports that can be staged online, even as he admits that a virtual Palaro will be limited in scope.

"We're looking at, and we're hoping, and right now we're planning to hold virtual Palarong Pambansa," said Erestain during an appearance on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum, as he graced the weekly event on behalf of DepEd Undersecretary Tonisito Umali.

"Kaso nga lang, hindi na siya 'yung full spectrum of the sporting events of the Palaro. But kung ano 'yung pupwedeng ma-video, like 'yung mga forms, ganyan," he added. "Mga ganong tipo."

Education Secretary Leonor Briones announced in May 2020 that the Palarong Pambansa, as well as other events that draw large crowds, are suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The 2020 edition of the Palarong Pambansa was supposed to be held in Marikina in May.

Erestain said they have already identified some sports that may be held in a virtual platform, although this remains up for approval.

"Hindi pa final at hindi pa naa-approve ng Palarong Pambansa board, we're finalizing our proposal pa," he explained.

"Siyempre, from from the Palarong Pambansa board, iaakyat pa namin 'yan sa IATF. Kaya hindi ko rin mabanggit (ang mga sports)," he added.

Aside from having a limited number of sports, it is also likely that only secondary school students can take part in the virtual Palaro, given the current COVID-19 restrictions.

"Sa nakikita po namin ngayon, kung iho-hold nga ang virtual, baka 15-18 (year olds) lang din ang makakasali," said Erestain.

Given the current COVID-19 situation in the country, Erestain also believes that a physical, face-to-face Palaro may not happen this year and in 2022. 

"It will all depend on how the vaccines are rolled out nationwide, especially on students," he explained. "Ang talagang primordial concern natin will always be the safety of our children, especially on the part of Palarong Pambansa and our student-athletes."

"Pero nakikita natin, 'pagka medyo nagi-ease up naman 'yung situation, so baka pwede tayong magdagdag ng sports or sporting events, or pati siguro ng mga batang pwedeng lumahok," he also said.