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Antique puts up a massive makeover to host the 60th edition of the Palarong Pambansa this weekend, its most glamorous going out party to emerge from obscurity to instant fame.
Days before the start of the largest inter-scholastics games, the normally placid province was busy dressing up its streets with buntings and banners, and the aging Binirayan Sports Complex has been rehabilitated with a brand new rubberized track oval for the center-piece athletics events.
Some 12,000 delegates, including 7,000 athletes from 18 regions, are to converge on Sunday in this bustling capital town, a rare relic of the rich Spanish era, to compete in 24 events, staking 925 gold medals, including the demonstration sports of aero-gymnastics, wushu, wrestling, futsal and billiards.
“This is going to be the happiest, biggest party for Antiqueños. We want to show to our visitors and guests and the entire nation that we are united to host the Palarong Pambansa,” declared the fiery Antique Gov. Rhodora Cadiao.
From bottled water to fruits and canned foods, fresh fish to poultry and meat, bedding foams and mattresses, and tricycles to jeepneys, the Antique Organizing Committee has procured the needed supplies and sundries to accommodate the needs of the growing delegations that have arrived early.
Empty school buildings have been converted into sleeping quarters of athletes, roadside houses have been decorated with colourful graffitis, and the different competition venues from town plazas, auditorium to swimming pools, including the sprawling Binirayan Sports Complex have been repaired and repainted.
The Binirayan Sports Complex, carved out of a hill, is a splendid replica of the ancient, open-air Greek amphitheatre that will be the beehive of activities when the six-day sports conclave unfurls before a mammoth gathering that is expected to be graced by President Rodrigo Duterte.
For several weeks now, elementary school children and students in secondary schools along with their respective teachers have rehearsed their cultural ground presentation that is choreographed to provide pomp and pageantry during the two-hour long opening ceremonies.
Former Asian Games long jump ace Elma Muros has been invited to carry the Palaro torch and pass it on to local tennis sensation Marian Capadocia during the rites that will also honor Antique’s famed athletes of the past, Far Eastern Games thrower Georgina Abrico and former SEA Games champion Dorie Cortejo.
With the theme, “Palarong Pambansa: Converges Youth Power, Builds Sustainable Future,” new faces are expected to rise when the ashes of competitions have settled, among them Antique’s very own West Visayas swimming gold medallists, brothers Guilliver and Guillifer Clemente and Alessandra Eunice Mena.