The city’s hosting of a national sports event was by no means an easy thing to accomplish. It had to literally start from scratch because years ago, the city didn’t have the infrastructure to pull off such a big sports event. It should be remembered that more than a decade ago, the mayor then had said that, to Davao’s shame, it alone stood as the only Philippine city without a modern sports facility. So with that as the starting point, and last week’s hosting of the 2019 Palarong Pambansa at a newly built sports complex in UP campus, as the length of our measuring stick, we could say that Davao had indeed come a long way.
(As an aside, UP studes fondly call the new facility as the ‘sports simplex’ because of still-needed improvements. Politically, its being called a sports “complex” had also been tied up to the issue of demolition of illegal settlers’ homes in the area, with complexities in negotiations still unresolved for some parties.)
A hectic race to finish on time had markedly preceded the actual games itself. While construction of all the infra such as the stadium, the track, pitch and olympic pool went full blast and 24-7, the sectors involved doubled their time in their preparations as well. Alongside all these, trainings and orientation of all sports officials ran in the background, vis-a-vis the local government’s own Palaro schedules.
As added drama, Davao’s unrelenting positive marketing initiatives which announced the city’s international-standard sports complex in both social and commercial media had been met with criticism from seemingly anti-city bloggers who instead reported half-hazard preparations and poor service and accommodations.
Despite all, as homage to everyone directly concerned with Palaro, especially the athletes from all over the country who came to compete, we took advantage of the May First holiday and awoke early to watch and enjoy all the games there. First on our agenda was to see the first football match of the day, and to capture it in photos, against the backdrop of majestic Mt. Apo and Mt. Talomo.
Later in the day, as we wearily made our way for home, I’ve come to realize that the overall spectacle we had just witnessed had been overshadowed by non-tangible thingies like values displayed by the players. Truly, the spirit of fierce competition, interwoven with fair play had been evident among the young athletes of today, and these might as well have made up for all the bickerings and hard work that predated the games. An air of friendship, camaraderie and respect had likewise filled the sidelines, clearly visible where they rested and awaited their turns at the court.
Sports, although seen by some as entertainment to divert people from social issues, is actually a time-tested, and character-molding instrument for both the young and the old. In this Palaro, this had been made more clear, judging from the discipline and respect shown by the athletes up close. In the end, they might just have taught us a thing or two about respect and other values. Aside from it being a two-way street, it cannot be demanded of anyone. Respect others, and if you want them to respect you, earn it. Salute!