Mark Angelo Mañez

MANILA - About 9,000 student-athletes, coaches, and officials gather despite inclement weather as the 2023 Palarong Pambansa officially opened its festivities at the Marikina Sports Center, Monday afternoon.

Photo Courtesy of Marikina PIO/Facebook

With the theme 'Batang Malakas, Bansang Matatag', this year's iteration of the annual national meet expects action-packed competition  across 34 sports. 

The weeklong affair will run until August 5, three years after Marikina suspended its hosting of the Palaro in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. and Vice President and Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Sara Duterte graced the grand opening ceremonies in front of the delegates. 

Also present were Mayor Marcy Teodoro of host city Marikina alongside spouse Rep. Maan Teodoro, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora, and other DepEd and local officials.

NCR, Zambo athletes strike gold

Hours before the opening ceremonies, athletes from Zamboanga Península and National Capital Region (NCR) struck gold in their respective Athletics disciplines at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

Amidst the pouring rain, Zamboanga high jumper Giethyl Daze Lubguban bagged gold in the Elementary girls event, besting 23 others with a stellar 1.40-meter jump. 

Her feat paid off significantly as Lubguban dedicated it to her father, who accompanied her during training sessions before flying to Taiwan for a job contract.

"Sabi ni papa kapag ma-first ako sir, proud na proud siya sa'kin,” she said.

Central Luzon's Brieyanna Nichole Camacho (1.37m) and Shanelle Jane Felomino of Western Visayas (1.34m) complete the podium after taking silver and bronze, respectively.

On the other hand, NCR athletes took gold and silver in the Secondary boys' Pole Vault. Teammates Sean Harry Narag and Mejen Sumbongan made sure their region's title defense bid started strong by putting up superb numbers.

Narag vaulted 3.90 meters to clinch gold while Sumbongan's 3.80m vault was enough to secure silver. Central Visayas' Eumar Mamongay vaulted 3.30m to settle for bronze.

Edited by Rob Andrew Dongiapon