It is the third time for Zamboanga City to host this annual sports competition — the first time in 1993 and the second in 2005. According to the PRISAA national project director, Prof. Elbert Atilano, positive media reports about the city and the warm reception of Zamboangueños to visiting delegates have apparently encouraged more schools from Luzon and Visayas to join this year's competition.
"We are very pleased that our city has been chosen to host (the games) this year, particularly because the number of delegates has almost doubled compared to the last time Zamboanga hosted the national games," said Mayor Celso Lobregat.
Sixteen schools will be hosting the regional delegations, and with the increased number of participants, the mayor has requested the public school sector to provide additional billeting venues for student athletes.
The city government has allotted a budget of P2 million for operational expenses and the repair and improvement of some facilities of the competition's venue, the Joaquin Enriquez Jr. Memorial Sports Complex. Total operational cost of the PRISAA national games is between P11 and P12 million.
The sports complex will serve as the main venue for sports events such as basketball, baseball, sepak takraw, softball, football, volleyball, swimming, lawn tennis and athletics. Competitions on table tennis and chess will be held at Pilar College, and events on taekwondo, karatedo, judo, and badminton at the Ateneo de Zamboanga University. The dancesport competition and contests on vocal solo and search for Mutya ng PRISAA will be held at the Zamboanga City Summit Center.
"Zamboanga City athletes are preparing for this year's competition. We expect tougher competition, as the National Capital Region delegation will arrive in full force," Atilano said. He added that the city's athletes are confident they will excel in taekwondo, karatedo, swimming, and athletics.
Last year, the PRISAA National Games was hosted by Iloilo City with the Western Visayas region as the overall winner, followed by Northern Mindanao and Southern Tagalog.
PRISAA is an organization of private schools all over the country with a vision to serve as a venue for sports, academic, and cultural development of the Filipino youth. It developed several outstanding athletes who represented the country in international competitions, which include renowned sprinter Mona Soliman from Mindanao and shot put and discus throw athlete Josephine dela Viña from the Visayas. (Angel Tiamson-Saceda / MindaNews)