In 1993, then President Fidel C. Ramos issued Executive Order 163, authorizing the Philippine Sports Commission to organize the Philippine National Games that will integrate the “national open” competitions of various national sports associations into one grand sporting event. The PNG was not sustained and was last held in 1996.
The first indication of its revival by the new PSC leadership was in February this year when executive director Geraldine Bernardo announced that the “PSC is looking at Bacolod, Dumaguete, and Camarines Sur as possible venues…and that (the Commission) plans to allot P15 million for overall operations of the event.” (GMA News/Feb 23, 2011). The Cebu Daily News (March 8) subsequently reported that “the first P-Noy National Games (to be held) from May 23 to 29 will be co-hosted by the cities of Bacolod, Bago, Talisay, and Silay in Negros Occidental.”
Two things caught my attention: a) the name of the event has been changed to “P-Noy National Games”, and b) holding of 23 sports disciplines in only four localities in Negros Occidental. The events are athletics, bowling, dragon boat, equestrian, fencing, women’s football, gymnastics, judo, muay thai, pencak silat, sailing, softball, table tennis, taekwondo, lawn tennis, triathlon, windsurfing, wushu, wrestling, weightlifting, and archery.
And here is another intriguing statement from one of the PSC officials: “Its not grassroots but it could be a venue to bring in new talent for our NSAs… that [they] in the developmental stage with pencak silat, muay, sailing, and windsurfing could benefit from.”
I asked a close friend who is experienced in sports management regarding my observation and he replied in a text message: “I [have] read [about] the P-Noy Games. Sa pangalan pa lang, may kasama nang politika…” I forwarded the text to a top PSC official and this was part of his reply: “I guess you can’t completely remove politics in any event that govt is sponsoring. Even [in the] Palarong Pambansa where they invite the President to open or be [the] special guest…There will always be politics involved when we use govt funds.”
I learned later that Malacanang didn’t approve the naming of the games after the President, and the event will now be promoted as the POC-PSC National Games, or PNG.
Last March 11, I suggested a possible different scenario for the staging of the PNG to PSC Commissioner Jolly Gomez who is on top of the event: Sports has always served as a potent medium for social and political integration. For the PNG to accomplish this in our country, I suggest that the games be held in multiple venues with several LGUs assigned as hosts. For example, Camarines Sur with its world-class facilities could be the site for water sports, Boracay for beach volleyball, Clark in Pampanga for triathlon, Cebu for dance sport and arnis, Dumaguete for football, Davao or Manny Pacquiao’s General Santos City for boxing, and so on.
President Aquino could stay in one place, the primary host, and simultaneously open the games’ ceremonial that can be beamed through satellite TV to all the other venues. Thus, in one single special moment, the opening of the PNG could unite the entire archipelago — Filipinos united and integrated through sports.
The advantage of staging the PNG in several venues is that it will be less expensive to come up with the competition venues compared to bringing all the events to Negros Occidental. And since the entire country is involved, it will project the PNG as a national enterprise, with more audience watching and participating. Every year, the President can be in another place to open the games and other cities serving as hosts or a rotational basis.
And please note that PSC Chairman Richie Garcia and POC Chairman Monico Puentevella are both from Bacolod and bringing all the 23 sports events in Negros Occidental is just too much blessing for one locality. It would be nice to spread the goodies.
Commissioner Gomez emailed me back saying that he had noted my suggestion. Chairman Garcia informed me that the recommendation to bring the entire PNG baggage to Negros Occidental was made by Puentevella and POC President Jose Cojuangco. The impression I got is that since POC and its national sports associations will manage the events, the recommendation and subsequent decision of the POC prevailed over that of the PSC that foots the bill.
I was advised by the games Secretariat that colleges and universities boycotting the PRISAA may join the PNC by registering online. Registration online is required. Accreditation of athletes and teams will be done by the NSAs. Once accredited, guidelines regarding schedules, billeting, transportation, and other information will be provided.
Since those schools boycotting the PRISAA are concerned about their athletes’ participation in tournaments, I suggest they join the PNG where their athletes will be competing against the best, and probably be surprised that some of them will qualify for the national teams that will represent the country in the Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia this November.