By Mark Manez
VIGAN, Ilocos Sur--The stage is now set as more than 12,000 athletes, coaches and officials converge for the 2018 Palarong Pambansa at the ultramodern Quirino Stadium in Bantay for the grand opening ceremonies, Sunday afternoon.
No less than the Provincial Government of Ilocos Sur opens its arms to the visiting delegations with President Rodrigo Duterte expecting to speak before the delegates.
In his statement released by the Malacanang, he lauds the province's efforts of hosting the event, bringing together the country's best and brightest youth athletes. He is also confident on the youth's involvement in displaying solidarity, teamwork and sportsmanship as Filipinos.
Elementary and secondary student-athletes from 17 participating regions will vie for 493 gold medals in 30 sports events in this whole week showcase of talent and athletic supremacy.
National Capital Region will lead the charge in defending their throne they have held since 2005 in Iloilo and are set to plow the playing field for the 14th time. The Big City athletes amassed an astonishing 98 gold, 66 silver, 45 bronze medal haul last year in Antique.
Not far from the title holders, Calabarzon and Western Visayas are also setting their eyes on dethroning their fiercest rival. They finished second and third behind NCR.
Hosts Ilocos Region also set their expectations to a minimum and improve their 7-12-31 medal haul last year and improve their overall position.
Ilocos Sur Governor Ryan Singson is also expected to arrive during the colorful opening rites. Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones and Undersecretary Tonisito Umali are also expected to grace the week-long showcase.
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