It’s been three years in a row that I was able to witness the Philippine National Open Invitational Athletics Championships. The 2017 edition was staged in the gentle City of Ilagan, Isabela dubbed as the “Corn Capital of the Philippines” at the heart of Region II on 29-March to 02-April-2017. If we were able to send a 15-team delegation for the annual meet, Team Blue Knights fielded only 7 athletes in total which is composed of selected athletes from Mindanao and guest athletes from Luzon, and the United States including current Philippine Junior Record holder in 100m Princess Joy Griffey. Representing Davao is my partner Beverlie Tariao and Holy Trinity College of General Santos thrower Nova Belle Tega.
I’ve already gotten used to long journeys but my colleagues were quite tired from the 10-hour bus ride from Manila and were given comfort in the simple billeting quarters in Ilagan National High School. Good thing that the mother of my former colleague in the Philippine Collegian is a public-school teacher in the said school. Ms. Rosalinda G. Pascual provided us the necessary provisions to make our stay comfortable.
As we arrived in Ilagan two days before the actual competition, we were able to witness the 2017 South East Asian Youth Athletics Championships which is also hosted by the City of Ilagan. Team Philippines fought for its lone gold courtesy of Mr. Ernest Obiena in the boys Pole Vault. It was not a haul for the home team as powerhouse youth teams like Thailand and Vietnam dominated the games. As a coach, I’ve observed how our Southeast Asian neighbors as stepping up their game in this competition. First that I’ve noticed is their running mechanics or form. They are very keen on maintaining their proper running form during their race bout. This should be the focus of the coaches here in the Philippines: that in terms of skills, the proper technique and form should be taught first, then, power and endurance will follow.
After the SEA Youth Championships, the Philippine National Open Invitational Athletics Championships took place. The City of Ilagan did a great job as host as they are very accommodating and friendly to the athletes and visitors. Although we are a small delegation, we felt the character of its citizens and almost felt at home while we were in Ilagan.
As the team is composed of guest athletes, we showed diversity in the way we organized the team. Nova Belle Tega was our winner in the women’s shot put, gaining bronze medal, while Princess Joy Griffey finished 6th in the 100m finals due to pain in her left leg. Nevertheless, Princess’ participation in the team is invaluable, as she is also working as a coach in the United States.
So far we are grateful that we were able to participate in the 2017 Philippine National Open. Team Blue Knights is looking forward to a stronger delegation in 2018 which will come from the whole of Mindanao. As we experience the charm of “Solid North”. It’s about time we bring a “Solid South” Athletics Team in 2018.
Submitted by Airnel T. Abarra, ADDU Track and Field Coach