Palarong Pambansa 2023

FAST FACTS: Exploring Palarong Pambansa 2023, comeback after 4 years

Jezreel Ines

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FAST FACTS: Exploring Palarong Pambansa 2023, comeback after 4 years

PARADE. Student-athletes from different regions of the Philippines don raincoats during the opening parade of the Palarong Pambansa 2023 in Marikina City on July 31, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

This year's edition of Palarong Pambansa introduces several changes in a bid to make the return of the nationwide grassroots competition even more exciting

MANILA, Philippines – In a much-anticipated comeback, the Palarong Pambansa, the Philippines’ grandest inter-regional school sports gathering, finally returns after a four-year hiatus caused by the pandemic with a theme “Batang Malakas, Bansang Matatag” (‘A Strong Youth, A Stable Nation’).

Marking its last occurrence in Davao City from April to May 2019, this illustrious event is now set to take place in Marikina City, a first-time host, from July 29 to August 5. Interestingly, Marikina City was initially scheduled to hold the event back in May 2020 before the unforeseen circumstances unfolded.

Student-athletes from Kinder to Grade 12, representing all 17 regions, are gearing up for Palarong Pambansa 2023. Moreover, this edition includes the participation of foreign-based student-athletes competing under the Philippine Schools Overseas banner. (READ: Things to know about Palarong Pambansa, the PH’s largest youth sporting event)

What is new in the 2023 Palarong Pambansa?

Several exciting changes have been implemented for this year’s Palaro that will elevate the event to new heights and make it an unforgettable experience for all participants.

According to DepEd Memorandum No. 5, s. 2023, Division Meets were scheduled from February 6-10, and Regional Meets on April 24-28, as recommended by the Palarong Pambansa Secretariat.

A new tier, the Pre-National Qualifying Meet, was introduced to streamline the event. This tier will focus solely on team sports like baseball, basketball, football, futsal, sepak takraw, and volleyball.

Delegations will be organized into four clusters based on their geographical location. 

  • Cluster 1 includes the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). 
  • Cluster 2 comprises CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, NCR, and Bicol Region.
  • Cluster 3 consists of Western, Central, and Eastern Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula Region.
  • Cluster 4 encompasses Northern Mindanao, Davao, SOCCKSARGEN, CARAGA, and BARMM.

Sports with measurable standards, such as distance, time, and points, will follow the qualifying criteria set by the Palarong Pambansa. On the other hand, sports without qualifying standards in athlete selection and not categorized as team sports will directly proceed to the culminating competitions of the Palarong Pambansa.

The top two regional delegations from each cluster will advance to the main Palarong Pambansa event. These changes were implemented to ensure minimal disruption to classes and uphold essential public health and safety protocols, as stated in DepEd Order No. 34, s. 2022, and other relevant guidelines.

34 sports

For this edition of Palarong Pambansa, a diverse lineup of 34 sports disciplines, comprising para games, demonstrations, and exhibition sports, will be showcased. Among them, the Indigenous Filipino Games, known as “Laro ng Lahi,” will once again be featured as an exhibition sport.

The “Laro ng Lahi” was initially introduced during the 62nd Palarong Pambansa in 2019, where Department officials and personnel actively participated in playing kadang-kadang, patintero, hilahang-lubid, and karera ng sako.

According to DepEd Memorandum No. 35, s. 2023, each region must select 10 members from their delegation to take part in the Palaro indigenous games.

Besides the indigenous Filipino games, cheerdance, weightlifting, and obstacle course will also be featured as exhibition sports, while dancesport and pencak silat will be showcased as demonstration sports in this year’s Palarong Pambansa.

Additionally, separate events will be held for learner-athletes with intellectual disability (ID), visually impaired (VI), and orthopedically handicapped/amputee (OH) under Special Education (SPED) classes, including para athletics, para swimming, bocce, and goalball.

A total of 1,573 medals will be awarded across regular sports, para games, and demo sports in this year’s Palaro.

Numerous well-established national athletes began their journey in Palarong Pambansa. 

Renowned track stars Elma Muros and Lydia de Vega, former Philippine Azkals co-captain Chieffy Caligdong, basketball icons Samboy Lim, Danny Ildefonso, and Willie Miller, as well as swimmer Akiko Thomson, are just a few examples of those who owe their roots to the national games. 

You can check Rappler Live Updates for games, results, and latest updates on the 2023 Palarong Pambansa. –

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Jezreel Ines

Jezreel is a researcher-writer at Rappler mainly focused on governance and social issues.