MANILA – Batang Pinoy is back!

The annual youth grassroots sports event is staging a comeback this December after a two-year pause due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

In a memorandum of agreement signing event at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) office inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila on Thursday, it was announced that Ilocos Sur would be the host province for the Batang Pinoy return.

No less than Ilocos Sur Governor Jerry Singson graced the signing ceremony.

“It is our honor and pride to host the Batang Pinoy 2022 and the province of Ilocos Sur is very excited when I announced that finally, we will host the Batang Pinoy. Nagpapasalamat po ako kay (I would like to thank) Chairman (Noli) Eala that you accepted and chose us to host the Batang Pinoy 2022. Malaking bagay po ito sa amin because through sports, makikilala na naman po ang Ilocos Sur and, hopefully, mabubuhay ulit ang aming economy (This is a big deal for us because through sports, Ilocos Sur will again be recognized and, hopefully, our economy would boom again) through sports,” Singson said.

Eala, on the other hand, is glad that Batang Pinoy will return to his native province.

"The 2022 Batang Pinoy National Championship is actually going to be the first major PSC-organized competition under my watch and that is why I am very honored to do it in the province of Ilocos Sur where the Ealas come from," he said.

“I am truly proud that the Batang Pinoy National Championship will finally be back and for the province of Ilocos Sur to host this competition is a big step towards pushing our grassroots program and jumpstarting our grassroots program in the Philippine Sports Commission.”

Ilocos Sur hosted the 2018 Palarong Pambansa, back when William “Butch” Ramirez was still at the helm of the PSC.

In a unique setup, this year's Batang Pinoy will be a hybrid event.

Eight official sports – archery, athletics, badminton, chess, cycling, swimming, table tennis, and weightlifting – will be done face-to-face in various venues within the Metro Vigan area.

Another set of eight sports – arnis, dancesport, judo, karate, Muay Thai, Pencak Silat, taekwondo, and wushu – will be done virtually.

A 17th sport, obstacle course racing, has been added as a demonstration event.

About 7,000 participants, whether athletes aged 10 years to 15 years, coaches, or officials, are expected to be present for Batang Pinoy, which will run from December 17 to 22, just before Christmas.

A total of 554 gold medals, the same number of silver medals, and 722 bronze medals are at stake in this year's Batang Pinoy event. (PNA)