Palarong Pambansa 2024

Who’s Matatag? Meet the Palarong Pambansa 2024 mascot

Christa Escudero

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Who’s Matatag? Meet the Palarong Pambansa 2024 mascot
The inspiration for the Palarong Pambansa 2024 mascot Matatag is just as tough and enduring

Have you seen the official mascot for the 2024 Palarong Pambansa?

It’s a blue bird named Matatag, wearing an athletic kit and carrying a torch. Inspired by the Cebu flowerpecker, the bird is endemic to the island province whose capital city is also the host of this year’s national tournament. 

Matatag “symbolizes resilience and revival, mirroring the bird’s own story,” said a post on the Palarong Pambansa 2024 Facebook page.

The Cebu flowerpecker is marked critically endangered as of 2021 in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. It was first feared to be extinct in the 20th century, but then was rediscovered in 1992 in a forest patch near Tabunan, Cebu, according to research published in the Bird Conservation International journal.

Presence of the bird species has since been recorded by Bird Life International in the forests of Nug-as in Alcoy, Mount Lantos in Argao, and Dalaguete.  

There remains to be 85-105 Cebu flowerpeckers as of 2005, with 60-70 of them mature, according to the international organization. The species’ population continues to be small, fragmented, and declining due to “catastrophic deforestation.” 

Many conservation efforts have been organized to protect the Cebu flowerpecker population and restore forest habitats. In 2007, the Philippine government passed Republic Act 9486, establishing the Central Cebu Protected Landscape.

In the late 2010s, advocates launched the Cebu flowerpecker conservation project, organizing a series of activities for conservation awareness, research, capacity building, and habitat management. 

“Matatag’s story reflects the daily struggles of athletes to balance sports and academics, building character, resilience, and strength to face life’s challenges,” said the Palarong Pambansa organizing committee.

“As we celebrate athletic excellence, Matatag also embodies the crucial message of ecological conservation, highlighting the urgent need to protect the critically endangered Cebu flowerpecker.” –

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Christa Escudero

Christa Escudero is a digital communications specialist for Rappler.