LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Education in Bicol (DepEd-5) has formulated safety precautions to ensure the well-being of athletes as the heat index in the city reached 46 degrees during the opening ceremony of the modified Palarong Bicol (Bicol Meet) 2023 on Sunday afternoon.
In a press conference on Monday, architect Roland Alianza, Legazpi City Schools Division Office (SDO) disaster risk reduction management (DRRM) chief, said they made sure that the precautionary measures were discussed during the preparations for the week-long activity.
"Sa mga coordination meetings conducted by our regional office with the different SDOs, napag-usapan po ang preparations with regards sa heat index to ensure the safety of the athletes. Kaya nga ang mag billeting schools natin ay hindi na katulad ng dati na punoan kundi ang instruction natin ay dapat maluwag na ang mga rooms na ginagamit (During the coordination meetings conducted by our regional office with the different SDOs, preparations were discussed regarding the heat index to ensure the safety of the athletes. That's why our billeting schools are no longer as crowded as before as the instruction was that the rooms to be used should be spacious)," Alianza said.
Aside from spacious billeting for the athletes, he said they also wanted to hold most of the games in indoor venues.
"Tapos yung mga laro natin, lahat indoors, covered courts. Kung may laro man sa labas, hindi na siya gagawin tulad ng dati na mainit pa.. like boxing by 3:00 p.m., it's not that hot anymore with regards to outdoor events. Kaya na consider po natin yan para sa ngayon mainit na panahon (And our games are now all indoors or in covered courts. If there's a game outside, it will be done in the afternoon when it's not so hot.. like boxing by 3:00 p.m., it is not that hot anymore with regards to outdoor events. So we really consider that in anticipation of the hot weather)," he added.
The DepEd-Bicol also said the opening of Palarong Bicol 2023 on Sunday was generally peaceful.
Mayflor Marie Jumamil, the agency's spokesperson in the region, said they also prepared clinics for the five playing venues of the athletic meet.
"Aside from the different media centers we prepared, we also have clinics for athletes that may feel something during the game. We also have an isolation area for those with Covid-19 symptoms and a child protection corner for the participants that may experience 'abuse' or any related violence," Jumamil said.
Likewise, to ensure that there would be no class disruption during the event, all students in the playing and billeting schools were placed under the self-learning module system.
Meanwhile, Legazpi City Mayor Geraldine Rosal, in a phone interview on Monday said she is very grateful the city was chosen as one of the hosts among local government units (LGUs) in Albay province for this year’s Palarong Bicol.
She said the sports competition is being anticipated to again showcase the talents and abilities of the athletes after being suspended for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are expecting to increase the number of visitors from other neighboring provinces, cities, and municipalities until the end of the sports completions on April 28 that’s why I’ve already directed the police and the Public Safety Officers (PSOs) and the concerned barangay officials to monitor the athletes’ billeting schools and the different venues of the competitions to make sure that the athletes are safe during their stay in the city,” Rosal said.
She said the billiards matches would be held at the city’s backyard billiard hall, while the boxing fights will be at the Sawangan Park in Barangay Dap-Dap, along the Legazpi City Boulevard in front of the Albay Gulf, with the majestic Mayon Volcano as backdrop.
“The visitors and other sports enthusiasts are free to watch the table tennis inside the SM City Legazpi recreation area, while the lawn tennis will be held at the office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Barangay Rawis and also at the Camp Simeon Ola and Lignon hill, all within the city,” Rosal said.
Meanwhile, the basketball competition (secondary division) will be held at the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation (ICR), while the basketball elementary division boys and girls 3 will be held at the Legazpi Sports Center.
“The Sepak Takraw elementary and secondary will be showcased at the Gregorian Mall and the volleyball games at the Bagumbayan Elementary School, Oro Site High School, and Gogon Elementary School,” Rosal said.
Rosal and other city officials and representatives from the DepEd regional office formally welcomed the athletes and delegates during the Palarong Bicol opening ceremony.
At least 5,000 players accompanied by their coaches and other visitors joined during the kick-off motorcade from the Albay Central School down to the ICR in Barangay Bitano. this was followed by a Eucharistic Mass and a solidarity meeting. The "Mayor’s Night" was held at the Legazpi City Convention Center (L3C) in the evening.
Being "modified", five playing venues instead of one were selected to host the events -- the Legazpi City SDO, Ligao City SDO, Naga City SDO, Albay SDO and Tabaco City SDO . (PNA)