LEGAZPI CITY — Buoyed by its successful hosting of the 2016 Palarong Pambansa, outgoing Governor Joey Salceda admitted the Albay Province is already pulling out all the stops to be the venue of at least three events—swimming, athletics and archery—when the Philippines hosts the Southeast Asian Games in 2019.
Salceda, 54, stressed they are already in talks with the Philippine Olympic Committee about the possibility of becoming as one of the host provinces for the biennial regional meet, hoping they could help fast-track the development of the country’s sports-tourism.
“Kung ibibigay nila, ang gusto ko athletics and swimming. Archery din, I think,” said Salceda, who is seeking a seat representing the Third District of Albay at the Lower Congress in next month’s national elections.
Salceda added the presence of the majestic Mayon Volcano, known globally as the ‘perfect cone’ for its symmetric conical shape, could serve as the picturesque backdrop for outdoor sports disciplines.
“Lahat ng mga outdoor sport ang background Mayon. We should optimize the opportunity for sports to promote tourism,” he stressed.
Salceda also sounded satisfied with the way the local organizers handled the 59th edition of the annual multi-sporting conclave that features more than 20,000 participating student-athletes, school and technical officials from 18 regions aside from a big throng of local guests.
And that’s where the province’s noted disaster risk reduction management came into play, something that they can utilize if and when it serves as one of the battlegrounds for the SEA Games.
“Every single athlete, we were able to monitor. And it takes practice to do that. Minsan inaabot kami ng 120 days sa evacuation center. Praktisado po kami mag-alaga ng 50,000 na tao sa isang lugar,” Salceda pointed out.
“Ang institutional approach namin will definitely be a big plus factor. Ang Pilipinas kasi, mayaman sa peligro. So I think it’s a big plus not just for disaster resilience but at the same time, for an orderly and systematic hosting of Palaro.”
While some of the country’s top provinces and cities make their own bid, Salceda is confident Albay will be highly considered by top sports officials.
“Unang-una nasa Luzon kami. May infrastructure, access, information,” he said. “Siyempre ang wala sila, ang hindi nila matutunan, ‘yung dumaan ka sa bagyo. Magpatayo muna sila ng Mayon Volcano na pumuputok at baka talunin nila kami.
“Kasi pagdating ko sa joint operation command, sa incident command system, kapag dating sa planning and execution and support sa high density population gathering, walang tatalo,” concluded Salceda. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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