LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – The 59th Palarong Pambansa is officially open.
The province of Albay put together a grand and festive opening ceremony on Sunday, April 10, at the Albay Sports and Tourism Complex inside the Bicol University Main Campus.
The formal ceremony, which lasted over 2 hours, was highlighted by the lighting of the friendship urn after a 3-day torch relay across Albay.
The massive cauldron stood tall over the oval and was lighted by Gilas Pilipinas member and PBA star Terrence Romeo. But the crowning moment was having athlete Francis Everesto as a torchbearer, making him the first person with disability or PWD to hold the torch at Palaro.
In a bid to exude a solid sense of inclusion for the annual youth games, Albay made sure to have a PWD as part of the program. (READ: DepEd eyes adding chess for the blind at next year’s Palaro)
Romeo pushed Everesto’s wheelchair then rode a small crane fit only for 2 people to reach the cauldron’s mouth and light what is dubbed as the Palaro Flame.
The lighting marks the end of the torch’s journey, starting from Agos, Polangui to Legazpi City on Friday, April 8. It was carried by Albay governor Joey Salceda and the uniformed men of Team Albay and JCI Legazpi.
On Saturday, April 9, two different running groups across the nation carried the torch around the base circumference of Mt. Mayon.
On opening day, local athletes Nathalie Agaton, Mario Maglinao and PWD athlete Everesto together with Romeo carried the torch, which took 6 weeks to make and whose shape is inspired by sili or chili peppers, a base ingredient for most of Albay’s delicacies.
All games will commence on Monday, April 11. – with reports from Mary Joy Gelit/Rappler.com
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