Winning Palaro: Does the school matter?

Lois Joy Guinmapang
How big of a role does school play on an athlete's success at Palarong Pambansa?

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan – How much of an impact does a school have in the making of a star athlete?

Judging from results of Palarong Pambansa 2012, it may depend on the sport.

Medal tallies show that several sports were dominated by particular regions – NCR took swimming and gymnastics by storm while Western Visayas dominated athletics.

It’s interesting to note that though there are sports where both private and public schools excel such as volleyball and sepak takraw, a different trend exists in other sports.

Most of the kids who have won the gymnastics meets hail from public schools such as Aurora Quezon Elem School, Claro M Recto High School, AC Herrera Elementary school and Ramon Magsaysay High School.

Only one medalist comes from Immaculate Concepcion Academy, a private school.

Other sports where public schools dominate are arnis, athletics, and special games.

In swimming, the situation is reversed. All 12 of NCR’s medalists are from private schools such as San Beda-Alabang, Makati Hope Christian School, Integrated Montessori Center, Xavier School, St. Claire Montessori, St. Theresa’s College QC, Diliman Preparatory School, and San Sebastian College.

According to Palaro records, sports where private schools usually dominate are swimming and archery.

What’s up with the trend?


NCR Regional Manager Noemi Bellosillo said, “Nasa accessibility kasi yan (It all comes down to accessibility).”

According to her, there are a lot of factors that could affect an athlete’s performance and facilities have always been a big factor, citing swimming as an example.

Una sa lahat, walang swimming pools sa public schools, sa private, meron (First of all, there are no swimming pools in public schools, but most private schools have them),” she said.

Volleyball tournament manager Nestor Bello said there are ways to address the lack in facilities, sharing that “in other regions, they start their regional meet as early as November so their athletes can train early, like in Region 7.”

Training usually starts before the usual time, which is around February or March.

“That’s how they compensate for the lack of the facilities,” he said. “They give their teams a head start.”

Just for the ‘elite?’

Are archery and swimming really just for the well-off?

According to archery tournament manager Ric Torres, “that’s not true.”

“Almost anybody can become a champion archer,” he said, adding that what public school kids need are good coaches with access to better training of skills and techniques.

“In 1997, Rizal High School from Pasig got the gold in Palaro because they were properly trained,” said Torres.

He shared that though kids with simple bows and arrows might get intimidated by the fancier ones used by other archers, it shouldn’t matter.

He reiterated the saying, “wala yan sa pana, nasa Indian yan (you don’t win because of your arrow, you win because you shoot it).”

For swimming, Bellosillo shared that realistically, those in private schools have the means to get swimming lessons or hire a personal tutor.

Despite this, Bellosillo affirmed that the public schools should not be belittled, since facilities aren’t everything.

Hindi naman ibig sabihin na kapag public ka, wala ka nang pag-asa, tignan mo yung gymnastics (It doesn’t mean that you’re hopeless when you’re from a public school. Look at the kids in gymnastics),” she said.

Indeed, the lack of facilities in the NCR gymnastics team has not kept them from consistently getting the gold. Belosillo did however admit, that in Metro Manila, there is an increased accesibility to facilities used by the national teams.

She told Rappler that as long as they have a letter, the Philippine Sports Commission allows them to use Rizal Memorial Sports Complex — a privilege also open to athletes from other regions.

Government efforts

Torres and Bellosillo both cited government initiatives to make sports more accessible to a greater number of students.

“Kahit bihira magkaroon ng swimming pool sa public, ginagawan ng paraan nila Mayor Lim, nagdedevelop siya ng programs para magamit yung Dapitan ng libre (Even if pools are rarely found in public schools, Mayor Lim has been developing programs that would make pools available to the students, like the one in Dapitan,” Bellosillo said.

Torres also mentioned that the PSC is trying to bring archery to inaccessible areas. “Maybe it’ll show in the students’ performance in 1 or 2 years time.”

All the tournament managers however agreed on one thing: victory shouldn’t be determined by mere facilities. They said it depends on coaching, training, and the athlete’s determination to win.

Volleyball tournament manager Bello said, “they are what they are, siguro depende lang sa practice (It just depends on how they practice).”  –