ANTIQUE, Philippines – Standing less than 4 feet, 11-year-old Jaspher Aspiras and 10-year-old Ivan Jake Villanueva stood out from a group of elementary and high school students at the the 60th Palarong Pambansa in Antique province on Thursday, April 20. But neither of them are athletes.
Aspiras and Villanueva are the youngest of the 80 students under the Palaro Movers Program who will be covering the biggest youth sports event in the Philippines.
For the first time in Palaro history, the Department of Education (DepEd) in partnership with MovePH, Rappler’s civic engagement arm, tapped winners of the recently held National Schools Press Conference (NSPC) in Pagadian City to cover the event.
MovePH is conducting a three-day multimedia workshop in Antique from April 20 to 22 to arm campus journalists, mostly high school students, with the necessary skills and tools to cover the prestigious multi-sports event. Palaro has produced world-renowned athletes like Lydia De Vega, Elma Muros, and Onyok Velasco.
Small but terrible
Aspiras and Villanueva proved that they can keep up with their older peers.
“I don’t feel any pressure because I know that I have already proven myself. Why should I be shy? I believe I have the potential,” Aspiras, a sports writer from Rosario Elementary School in Cavite, said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Aspiras won 5th place in the English sportswriting contest at the NSPC 2017 in Pagadian City. His school paper adviser, Domingo Cueto, described the budding sportswriter as a diligent and curious student.
“Every day, he goes to the library to train with us. Most of the time, he likes to read newspapers. He would browse the sports pages then he would be asking very good questions about sports articles,” Cueto said in a mix of Filipino and English.
The same could be said about Villanueva, a student photojournalist from the UN Semirara National High School in Bugasong, Antique.
Villanueva showed interest in photography when he was 3 years old. According to his mother and school paper adviser, Cheryl Villanueva, he was put on the spot to document the victory of his region during the NSPC 2010 in Tagum City, Davao del Norte when he was just a toddler.
“When our student won at the NSPC, there was no one else who could take a photo aside from him. I requested that he take a photo of us. To our surprise, people cheered him on when they saw this very small boy taking our picture,” Villanueva said in Filipino.
The shutterbug fever never left him since then.
“Nung binilhan ako ng camera, masaya ako kasi may sarili akong camera; at kahit saan ako pumunta, meron na akong dala. Hindi na ako kailangan manghiram. Kung may makita akong maganda, madali lang kumuha ng litrato,” the 10-year-old said.
(I was so happy when they bought me a camera. I did not have to borrow a camera. I can freely take photos whenever I see good subjects.)
For Aspiras and Villanueva, their coverage of the Palarong Pambansa serves as a platform to apply what they learned from the NSPC, also dubbed as the “Olympics of Campus Journalism” in the Philippines. (WATCH: The long road to Palarong Pambansa 2017)
“I believe that the trainings and actual hands-on coverage provide great opportunities for the students so they can apply what they have learned in school,” Cueto said.
More than 12,000 student-athletes from elementary and secondary schools of the country’s 18 regions will converge in San Jose de Buenavista City from April 23 to 29 to compete in 20 regular sports events and 3 demonstration sports.
The province of Antique, which is hosting the Palaro for the first time, has vowed to showcase “youth power” with the theme “2017 Palarong Pambansa: Converges Youth Power, Builds Sustainable Future.” – Rappler.com
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