LET THE GAMES BEGIN. Delegates from the City of Santa Rosa, Laguna join the opening-day parade of the Batang Pinoy National Championships at the Quirino Stadium in Bantay town, Ilocos Sur province on Saturday (Dec. 17, 2022). More than 6,000 athletes are competing in nine on-site events and eight other disciplines to be conducted online. (Courtesy of PIA-Ilocos Sur)

BANTAY, Ilocos Sur – A 12-year-old swimmer from Lucena City captured the first gold medal in the Philippine Sports Commission-Batang Pinoy National Championships on Saturday.

Kristian Yugo Cabana splashed his way to the boys’ 12-and-under 200-meter Individual Medley (IM) mint in two minutes and 29.5 seconds at the Quirino Stadium pool here.

The seventh-grader from International School Lucena bested Kevin Bryle Chan of Valenzuela City and Daniel Jonas Ocampo of Angeles City, Pampanga, who took the silver and bronze in 2:33.40 and 2:35.30, respectively.

Natuwa po ako at na-excite kasi nag-best time po ako. Hindi ko po inexpect na best time (I am happy and excited to record my best time. It was unexpected),” said Cabana, whose elder brother, Yohan Mikhail, has won a relay gold in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines for University of Santo Tomas.

A Batang Pinoy first-timer, Cabana was scheduled to compete in four more events -- 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly, and 200m freestyle.

Also creating waves were Kyle Louise Bulaga of La Union province and Evenezir Polancos Jr. of General Santos City.

Bulaga dominated the 200m IM in the Girls’ 12-Under in 2:44.45, ahead of Ilocos Sur’s Makayla Bettina Fetalvero’s 2:51.80 and Bulacan’s Eunice de Guzman’s 2:52.59.

Polancos reigned supreme in the 200m IM for Boys’ 13-15 in 2:18.50 as he edged Lucena’s Peter Cyrus Dean, who settled for the silver in 2:18.90.

Mabalacat, Pampanga’s Shan Kervie Medina took the bronze in 2:22.70.

Other swim winners were Jeanne Dominic Bongotan of Baguio City, Stacey Bernice Requiza of Davao City, Peter Cyrus Dean of Lucena City, and Richelle Anne Callera of Quezon City, all in various divisions of the 50m backstroke.

On Sunday, the archery competition gets going at San Ildefonso Central School, athletics in Bantay town, cycling at the provincial capitol in Vigan, and weightlifting at Sta. Catalina Gym.

In cycling, the girls’ criterium event unfolds at 8 a.m. while the boys will follow at 10:30 a.m. The individual time trial is also scheduled Sunday while the road race will be on Monday.

The chess competition at the Baluarte in Vigan also starts Sunday while the rapid and blitz events are scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday.

The opening rites was graced by Olympians Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Kiyomi Watanabe.

ROLE MODELS. Tokyo Olympic silver medalists in boxing Nesthy Petecio (left) and Carlo Paalam (right) take a photo with members of the Mindanao delegation during the opening of the Batang Pinoy National Championships at Quirino Stadium in Bantay, Ilocos Sur on Saturday (Dec. 17, 2022). Petecio hails from Davao del Sur and Paalam from Bukidnon. (Courtesy of Nesthy Petecio Facebook)

Meanwhile, known sports fan Senator Sonny Angara will donate PHP5 million to the country’s centerpiece grassroots development program.

More than 6,000 are seeing action in the six-day meet, half of them from this province.

On-site events are archery, badminton, cycling, chess, table tennis, swimming, track and field, weightlifting and obstacle racing, while arnis, dancesport, judo, karate, muay, pencak silat, taekwondo and wushu will be conducted online and will be streamed on PSC’s Facebook and YouTube platforms. (with reports from Jean Malanum/PNA)