BAYBAY CITY – A parade of colors kicked-off the opening ceremony of the 2015 Eastern Visayas Regional Athletic Association (EVRAA) meet held here on Sunday, February 1, as some 7,000 athletes, coaches and school authorities marched through the oval of the Baybay Sports Complex shouting cheers and slogans, some coupled with mascots and acrobatics.
Even as it would sometimes drizzle, turning into intermittent rain, the delegates were unfazed as they listened attentively to the opening program, which started at around 3:00 PM and ended at 6:00 to a dazzling 30-minute firework display.
The delegates were welcomed to Baybay City by Mayor Carmen L. Cari. The mayor, in her speech, emphasized that they are very thankful to God and their patron saint, the Immaculate Conception of Mary, because they were spared the full wrath of Yolanda and subsequent typhoons. Hence, they accepted the challenge to host the affair because they felt ready to take it on.
Leyte governor Dominic Petilla, on the other hand, welcomed the delegates to the Province. The participants come from six provinces of Eastern Visayas. The governor said that he was happy to note that Leyte’s sports program was paying off, because despite Yolanda, Leyte players hauled even more gold medals in the last Palarong Pambansa.
The guest speaker, on the other hand, was DepEd Asec. Tonitino Umali, who is at the same time the Secretary General of the Palarong Pambansa. He urged the young athletes to appreciate sportsmanship, saying there was more to sports than winning.
He also lauded the 44-second of silence offered by the hosts to the “Fallen 44”, saying it was a touching gesture and ordered school officials to observe it everyday until the end of the athletic meet. The EVRAA 2015 ends on February 7.
Rep. Jose Carlos Cari of the 5th district of Leyte introduced Umali to the delegates.
Other speakers were Congressman Roman Romulo and former congresswoman Rachel Arenas, who were present. Both wished the athletes good luck and to do their best in the competitions.
Also present during the opening ceremonies were DepEd regional director Dr. Luisa Yu, PhD.; celebrity Shalani Soledad, Rep. Romulo’s wife; Maasin City Mayor Maloney Samaco, who kept a low profile; Vice Governor Carlo P. Loreto; provincial board members Junjun Cayunda and Boboy Gacis; and Tacloban city councilor Cristina G. Romualdez, whom Leyte governor Petilla bared to the delegates was his “ninang” in marriage.
The entire ceremony was meaningful, keeping the wet and weary delegates alert. There was the usual raising of the colors of the delegations and the ceremonial lighting of the torch.
The first to light up the torch was Rep. Romulo, which he turned over to Taekwondo medallist Delio Amante. Amante, in turn, gave the torch to Kieza Adelyn Jabines who is a four-time Palarong Pambansa bronze medalist. Jabines then gave it to Querstine May Flandez, a multi-awarded gymnast and lastly, to Cyndia Louise Nosy, a tennister who got a bronze medal in the 2013 Asian Open held in Yainchuan, China.
The Athlete’s Oath of Amateurism was led by the Rep. Cari’s daughter, Anica “Gia” Georgia C. Cari, also a tennis player who was the champion of the 2014 Palawan Pawnshop Tournament age group under 18.
DepEd regional director Dr. Luisa Yu, on the other hand, formally declared the opening of EVRAA 2014.
It was followed by a ceremonial freeing of doves by the heads of delegations, to signify peace and sportsmanship.
The guests were also treated to a presentation of the Binaybayon Festival by the Plaridel National High School, the 2014 winner of the city’s official festival.