Department of Education Cordillera Education Support Services Division chief Agustin Gumuwang (Photo courtesy of Carlito Dar/PIA-CAR)
BAGUIO CITY -- Combative sports events remain to be the top medal hauler for the Cordillera region, an official of the Department of Education (DepEd) said on Wednesday.
"For combative sports, it is proven that Cordillerans have innate combative strengths which gained our moniker 'Fearless Cordillerans',” DepEd Cordillera Education Support Services Division chief Agustin Gumuwang said during a press conference.
The physique of Cordillerans, who are used to walking and hiking mountains while carrying loads, is a big factor in the physical qualification requirement for combative sports.
Gumuwang said proof of the region’s excellence in combative sports is the world-renowned “Team Lakay”, with members like Eduard Folayang and Kevin Belingon who continue to bring home the belt in mixed martial arts.
Combative sports include arnis, taekwondo, wrestling, judo, karate, boxing, and others.
Gumuwang said other regions have sought for the removal of combative sports in competitions organized by the department due to their being dangerous events, which was denied.
He said that Republic Act 10588 or the Palarong Pambansa Act of 2013 allows the conduct of such events to prepare grassroots athletes for international events.
Gumuwang shared that in previous years, taekwondo gave the region most of the gold medals in the Palarong Pambansa, together with other combative sports like wrestling, arnis, archery, and others.
Last year, Cordillera placed fifth in the Palarong Pambansa, bringing home 25 gold medals, 22 silver, and 23 bronze.
Gumuwang said the goal for the 2019 Palarong Pambansa from April 21 to 27 in Davao City is to break the 25 gold medals in 2018 and leap to a higher ranking.
Cordillera’s highest rank in the Palaro is fourth place recorded in 2015.
Palarong Pambansa is a nationwide sports event organized by the DepEd, where all regions in the country vie against each other.
Georaloy Palao-ay, DepEd Cordillera Public Affairs Officer and concurrent Deputy Sports Coordinator said that other regions have also retrained their individual events like combative sports, which increased the performance quality of their athletes.
"When we say combative, Cordillerans were ranking first but recently, they (other regions) became distant because we are already using the Olympics Medal System,” Palao-ay said.
In the Olympic medal system, the ranking per delegation is based on the number of gold medals obtained, not the total medals regardless of whether it is gold, silver or bronze.
Palao-say said that the region is looking
at the medal contribution of the team events and the possibilities to strengthen them, to add up to the region’s medal performance.
In 2018, he said that softball and futsal managed to rake up medals that contributed to the region’s accomplishment.
He also said that the different schools division offices have come up with a new strategy, to conduct team training per event to synchronize the skills of team members.
The training will be done prior to the Palarong Pambansa as a form of warm-up to bring the athletes’ potentials to the peak for the big game in Davao.
The Cordillera will be sending 744 athletes, coaches and officials to the annual sports competition. (PNA)