Duterte doubles prize for top teams in Philippine National Games 2018
CEBU CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte compensated for his much delayed arrival with a welcome surprise at the opening ceremonies of the Philippine National Games (PNG) held at the Cebu City Sports Center on Saturday, May 19.
Duterte doubled the cash prize of the top performing teams, which raised the reward for the overall champion to P10 million.
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) had promised to give the top 5 Local Government Unit (LGU)-delegations cash incentives as assistance to their sports programs.
Aside fromt the P10 million top reward, the runner-up will receive P8 million while the 3rd placer will get P6 million. The 4th and 5th placers will receive P4 million and P2 million, respectively.
Duterte made the announcement during his speech at the opening ceremonies, which kicked off at 3 p.m. with the parade of athletes where participants took a short hike from the CAP building along Osmeña Blvd. to the Sports Center.
It was then followed by performances and a program where Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña welcomed all participants. The PSC also led the oath of sports officials while 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz led the Oath of Sportsmanship.
After that, the opening ceremonies had to take a break to wait for Duterte, who was expected to arrive at 5 p.m. While waiting, the Maka Girls and the Sinulog Idols kept the crowd entertained.
Prior to his PNG arrival, the President also arrived late in Alegria, a town located southwest of Cebu City, where he was invited for the ceremonial commencement of the oil and gas production in the town's mountain barangay of Montpeller.
Nevertheless, the crowd still enthusiastically greeted Duterte when he arrived past 7 p.m. as the President first approached the athletes gathered in front of the Sports Center’s grandstand for some fist bumping and handshaking before going up the stage.
The crowd delighted in Duterte’s speech, which he started with an apology for his late arrival and dotted it with the usual expletives and jokes. He talked about what was happening in Alegria town, reiterated his administration’s stance against illegal drugs, then read part of the speech which was prepared for him before announcing the doubling of the total cash prize from P15 million to P30 million.
According to Ricky Ballesteros, the PNG opening ceremonies in-charge, all performers had no qualms on performing again for the President.
The crowd was further entertained by the lighting of the "urn of peace and unity," which was ushered in by a torch relay that had PSC commissioner Ramon "El Presidente" Fernandez, the PNG overall chairman, handing the torch to 1996 Atlanta Olympics boxing silver medalist Onyok Velasco.
Velasco passed the torch to bowling legend Bong Coo and chess legend Eugene Torre, then billiards champ Fransico 'Django' Bustamante and taekwondo icon Monsour Del Rosario, who handed the torch back to Fernandez.
The basketball legend then went up the stage along with the other Philippine sports heroes, lighted a miniature urn with the torch, which triggered the flight of a bird-shaped drone.
The sparks from its tail rained down on the cauldron located at the edge of the field as flames erupted amid the wild cheering of the crowd.
Other VIPs who attended the opening ceremonies were Cebu Province Gov. Hilario Davide III, Sen. Miguel Zubiri, DOT Region 7 director Shalemar Tamano, DepEd secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones and Phoenix Petroleum Philippines CEO and Presidential adviser for Sports Dennis Uy.
The hostilities officially kick off Sunday, May 20, in different venues within Cebu City as well as in selected northern and southern towns of Cebu. – Rappler.com