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PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan – The 2008 Palarong Pambansa will have Education Secretary Jesli Lapuz representing President Arroyo as special guest during the opening ceremonies tomorrow and former President Joseph Estrada personally gracing the closing rites as speaker.
The annual sports gathering among student-athletes comes off the wraps in an elaborate rites starting at 4 p.m. tomorrow at the newly refurbished Ramon V. Mitra Sports Complex.
Host Mayor Edward Hagedorn said the Chief Executive wouldn’t be able to attend the opening ceremonies due to a previous commitment.
But Hagedorn also announced that Estrada has committed to come and deliver a speech on the closing rites.
About 15,000 athletes, coaches and officials from the country’s 17 regions will gather here for the weeklong games.
Alroben Goh, the city’s chief information officer, said all but two regions are already accounted for with Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Zamboanga, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Socsargen, and powerhouse National Capital Region arriving here as early as last week.
The Big City bets remain as the heavy favorites in both the elementary and secondary divisions.
Fireworks display, reportedly costing the host millions of pesos, will highlight the inaugurals ushered in by the ceremonial torch relay, the parade and inspirational messages from Lapuz, Hagedorn and Philippine Sports commissioner Eric Loretizo, speaking on behalf of chairman William “Butch” Ramirez.
Palawan Gov. Joel Reyes and Congressmen Antonio Alvarez of District 1 and Abraham Kahlil Mitra of District 2 are also expected to grace the ceremonies.
Seventeen events are calendared in the weeklong event with the centerpiece athletics unfolding as early as Monday at the Ramon V. Mitra Sports Complex, which is also the playing venue for softball, swimming, boxing, football and volleyball.
Chess and taekwondo will be held at the Palawan State U, gymnastics at the City Coliseum, archery at TESDA grounds, arnis at Wescom Gym, badminton at Powerzone, baseball and table tennis at Palawan National HS and sepak takraw at People’s Amphitheater.
By; Joey Villar

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