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by: Uriel Cabaraban Quilinguing 

MAMBAJAO, Camiguin - For the eight time, Cagayan de Oro-based athletes emerged overall champion of this year’s edition of the Northern Mindanao Regional Athletic Association’s Palarong Pampook this island province hosted for the first time, Dec. 12 to 16, this year.With most of the 21-sporting events contested at the Pedro Palarca Romualdo sports complex here, the 648-member Cagayan de Oro Athletic Association (COAA) delegation amassed 120 gold medals--of the 347 at stake--on top of 76 silvers and 62 bronzes.

“Last year, we brought home 93 gold medals and this time we have 27 more,” said schools  governance operations division chief Rosalio P. Vitorillo of the Cagayan de Oro City Schools Division. Vitorillo said most of the gold medals came from medal-rich gymnastics, taekwondo, boxing and chess both in the elementary and secondary levels as well as in table tennis, basketball and in wrestling—a new inclusion in the Palarong Pambansa together with wushu and futsal.NMRAA athletic manager Raymund S. Antolo officially declared COAA’s overall championship during the closing ceremonies after which Camiguin governor and NMRAA chairperson Ma. Luisa D. Romualdo handed the trophy.

Antolo said while COAA’s title retention bid was almost certain before the championship matches, the race for the top was tight for eventual first runner-up Bukidnon and second runner-up Lanao del Norte as well as for Misamis Oriental and Iligan City for the third and fourth runner-up honors.
Official and final medal tally shows Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte having identical 42 gold medals but the former had 42 silvers and 49 bronzes while the latter only had 32 silvers and 37 bronzes. Both Misamis Oriental and Iligan pocketed 32 golds but the former had 41 silvers and 48 bronzes while the latter bagged 38 silvers and 56 bronzes. Other divisions, their gold-silver-bronze medal tally and ranks were: Valencia, 19-25-27, sixth; Tangub, 17-9-12, seventh; Misamis Occidental, 14-25-25, eighth; Malaybalay, 11-27-34, ninth; Camiguin, 8-11-19, 10th; Gingoog, 5-4-10, 11th; Oroquieta, 3-2-4, 12th; El Salvador, 2-4-10, 13th; and Ozamiz, 0-3-10, 14th. Present during the awarding of trophies and plaques were League of Municipal Mayors president and Mambajao mayor Jurdin Jesus M. Romualdo, Congressman Xavier Jesus D. Romualdo, Camiguin schools division superintendent Roy Angelo E. Gazo and Miss NMRAA 2016 Diane Nicole N. Ytac of Ozamiz Division.

Extinguishing of the flame on the Hibok-Hibok Rocks cauldron symbolically ended the week-long games.Philippine Sports Commission’s national training director Mark Velasco represented PSC chairman William Butch I. Ramirez, international taekwondo player Jean Pierre Sabido, and table tennis Olympian and former NMRAA gold medalist Ian N. Lariba graced the opening program.
Aside from Lariba’s leading the Hibok-Hibok Rocks urn lighting with “superheroes” composed of schools division superintendents passing on the a lighted torch, Festival Showdown, repeat performance of the Lanzones Festival grand champion Yumbing National High School and a 15-minute fireworks display highlighted Monday’s ceremonies.

This, after Department of Education 10 regional director Allan G. Farnazo declared the formal opening of the regional games with 7,253 registered athletes. (30)


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