Amid last-minute construction scramble, hosts Calabarzon confident of grand Palaro
LAGUNA, Philippines – If you ask the hosts, Calabarzon is more than prepared for the biggest and grandest sporting event in the country.
Speaking to Rappler in an exclusive interview, Department of Education’s Dr. Diosdado San Antonio, member of the event’s hosting committee and the host region’s delegation head, expressed his confidence that Laguna and the whole Southern Luzon region can deliver "the most unforgettable" Palaro yet.
“We are more than prepared,” San Antonio said.
But in the middle of all the optimism, scaffoldings and wet paint are still common sights when you go around the 2014 Palarong Pambansa centerpiece – the Laguna Sports Complex – on Day 1 of the week-long affair.
“Although we are ready, nag-attempt tayo na mag-put up ng extra structures, which we were not able to finish on schedule due to weather and other factors,” he shared to Rappler.
(Although we are ready, we attempted to put up extra structure)
The Laguna Sports Complex – located in Barangay Bubukal in the outskirts of Laguna’s capital – is a massive venue that includes a track and field oval, a grandstand, a football field, various gymnasiums, an archery and shooting range, and an aquatics center, among others.
It is scheduled to play host to 14 sporting events including basketball, tennis, and volleyball.
Construction in the multipurpose gymnasium, along with the grandstands and the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Monument as a Sportsman and Museum, is still ongoing as of morning of May 4 – the event’s first official game day.
The Media Center, which is supposedly situated in the multipurpose gym, was unuseable until late in the afternoon.
“We are assured of a photofinish but we are ready with not only a plan B, but also a plan C.”
San Antonio added that in case one venue will be unplayable, they have alternatives where they can hold events to avoid game delays and last-minute rescheduling.
In venues outside the complex, however, things are going without a hitch as only minor retrofitting was needed for the annual event.
No problem in athletes’ quarters
The hosts, meanwhile, is receiving overwhelming reception from the delegates when it comes to the quality of the participants’ billeting quarters, according San Antonio.
“We wanted to provide them with the best possible amenities. So far, walang complaints, in fact, ‘yung tinutulugan ng mga bata, iuuwi din nila as a gift from the province. (So far there are no complaints. In fact, they can take home the matresses they sleep on as a gift from the province.)
"We also gave them a bag of souvenirs they can take home after the games.”
“Those are small things pero things that they will always remember about Palaro.”
Minor problems like toilet flooding and plumbing are still present but the hosting committee has been doing their all to address the situation right away.
“We have teacher-staff who are available 24/7 to make sure na makakaattend sila sa needs ng delegates,” San Antonio said.
Healthcare, hospitals ready
After athletes collapsed under the heat in Tarlac three years ago and around 30 delegates from Eastern Visayas were hospitalized with diarrhea in the last Palaro edition in Dumaguete, the hosts took serious steps to assure they will be ready in case untoward incidents happen in Laguna.
“We have Red Cross present in all venues, may mga medical teams per region plus every province and delegation has its own team nurse and doctors,” says San Antonio.
“Call it redundant but we are ready for that.”
San Antonio also underlined their region’s cooperation in hosting the 6,000 delegates from their training weeks before the opening day until every participant has gone home.
“We are united Calabarzon. From Quezon to Rizal and elsewhere in the region, we were united for this. I also admire Governor Jeorge Estregan’s leadership. He’s all out and he’s not leaving any stone unturned for a successful Palaro.”
Aside from Sta. Cruz, ten other towns are hosting either billeting schools or playing venues within Laguna with the bulk of other events happening in Los Banos and Pila. – Rappler.com