‘Economy to benefit if bid succeeds’ Cebu City eager to host 2024 Palaro Pambansa

HOSTING the Palarong Pambansa in 2024 will not only have a positive impact on the sports industry in Cebu City, but the arrival of thousands of athletes will also be healthy for the tourism and economic climate of the whole Cebu Island.

City Councilor Donaldo “Dondon” Hontiveros, a former professional basketball player, said the Palarong Pambansa will help boost tourism in the entire Cebu Province.

Hontiveros, in an interview on April 11, 2023, said most of the athletes will bring their families during the Palaro.

“After the games, most of the athletes will usually go around together with their families,” he said.

Department of Education (DepEd) Cebu City Division sports officer Francis Ramirez agreed with the local legislator, saying around 15,000 athletes from 17 regions in the country are expected to join the Palaro.

Renovation begins

To win the bid, the City Government has started the ball rolling by temporarily closing the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC) for the next six months beginning Thursday, May 18, for the renovation and repair works in the nearly three-decade-old facility located at the back of the Abellana National School along Osmeña Blvd.

City Administrator Collin Rosell, in an interview Sunday, May 21, said the City Government has allocated P59 million for the improvement of the facility in preparation for the City’s bid to host the 2024 Palarong Pambansa.

Rosell said the City will renovate, repair and improve the amenities in CCSC, including the pool, rubberized track oval, grandstand, as well as the rest rooms and the parking lot.

“Our facility needs upgrading and enhancement, so it’s going to be on par with global standards,” he said.

The CCSC was built in 1994 when Cebu City last hosted the Palarong Pambansa.

Rosell said the City is looking at four to six months for the renovation and repair works to be completed.

As for the 50 employees of CCSC, Rosell said Sunday that they will be given other assignments or they will be transferred to other departments while the sports center is closed.

The City Government will also prepare an area in the South Road Properties (SRP) where athletes training for football and other sports that require an open space can practice, said Rosell.

Private companies and schools, he said, will also help in the renovation and repair works as part of their corporate social responsibility efforts.

The Cebu Provincial Government has vowed to help Cebu City should the local government unit (LGU) is selected to host the biggest youth sports meet in the country next year.

Tourism booster

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, in a Facebook post of Sugbo News on April 12, said she will tap the Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu Inc. (HRRACI) so they can give discounted rates to families of delegates.

“Paapilon ang (We will involve the) HRRAC. We bring them in so they can put in discounted rates for families. It will become a sports tourism event,” said Garcia in her meeting with Cebu City Sports Commissioner John Pages and Provincial Board Member Glenn Anthony Soco last April 11.

The Province is also willing to open sports facilities in the province like the Carcar Sports Complex, which boasts of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, diving pool, oval, soccer field and grandstand if Cebu City Hall will need more sports venues.

Pages, in the same meeting, said around 27 sports will be played during the sports meet.

Some of the sporting events included in the Palarong Pambansa are athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, chess, football, gymnastics, sepak takraw, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, volleyball and arnis for the elementary division, while the secondary division will include archery, arnis, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, chess, football, gymnastics, sepak takraw, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis and volleyball.

Initial budget

Before settling on P59 million, Cebu City Hall had allocated an initial budget of P65 million for the renovation of the CCSC.

Hontiveros, in previous interviews, said the P65 million is under the City’s capital outlay in its 2023 annual budget. Cebu City’s annual budget of P50 billion was just approved by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) last March 21.

Hontiveros said the football field, oval track, pool and the grandstand need to be renovated.

According to SunStar Cebu’s reports, the City Government spent P27 million to rehabilitate the rubberized track oval in 2012.

Aside from the CCSC, Hontiveros said if the City wins the bid, City Hall is also eyeing to hold some of the sports at the SRP.

Hontiveros said some schools like the University of Southern Philippines Foundation, University of San Carlos and University of Cebu, among others, will also be included as sports venues.

Cebu City is still waiting for the response of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Palaro Board to the letter of intent the City sent, conveying its intention to host the 2024 Palarong Pambansa.

Facing competition

Pages, in an interview on April 13, said aside from Cebu City, Bacolod City and Antique Province have also bid to host the 2024 Palarong Pambansa.

He said the decision of the DepEd on the selection of the next host LGU may come out in July.

He said Cebu has only hosted the Palaro twice, in 1954 and in 1994, since it started in 1948.

“We hope 2024 will be the third time,” said Pages.

Republic Act (RA) 10588, or the Palarong Pambansa Act of 2013, states that the hosting of the Palarong Pambansa “shall be determined by bidding and guided by the principle of rotation among the following geographical clusters: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.”

This year’s Palarong Pambansa host is Marikina City in the National Capital Region. The event will take place in July.

Pages said the 2024 Palarong Pambansa is also expected to happen in July. The Palaro will run for 10 days, he said.

RA 10588 also states that in the selection of the host LGU, the Palaro board will take into consideration the condition of the existing sports facilities, the LGU’s capacity to accommodate participants and guests, the security and peace and order situation of the area, and the need of the LGU for an opportunity to promote and showcase its socioeconomic and cultural uniqueness through the Palaro.

The LGUs with existing sports facilities will be given priority, according to the law.

The host LGU will also be given incentives by the board, according to the law.

According to the implementing rules and regulations of RA 10588, the host LGU is entitled to these incentives and benefits: donation to the host LGU of the sports equipment procured by the DepEd or used in the Palarong Pambansa, based on the LGU’s need and capability to maintain and maximize the use of the equipment; DepEd’s assistance for the repair and improvement of classrooms to be used as billeting quarters for the athletic delegations, subject to fund availability; and promotion by DepEd of the host LGU as a tourist destination.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, in an interview last April 13, said if the City is selected to host next year’s Palaro, it will not matter whether or not the City will be given incentives.

Rama said what is important is the city can host the event which he described as a “game changer.”

It has been almost three decades since Cebu City hosted the country’s biggest inter-school event in 1994, which is also the year the CCSC was completed. (WITH CTL)