(STAR)  By Joey Villar - Puerto Princesa City, Palawan—This city known the world over for its rich sea life and sanctuaries welcomed the youth from all parts of the country in an explosive show of color and dance as the 2008 Palarong Pambansa came off the wraps yesterday at the Ramon V. Mitra, Jr. Sports Complex here.

Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn led the city in colorful opening rites watched by more than 15,000 athletes, coaches and officials and thousands of local folks of this island province.

Action officially starts today in the centerpiece event of athletics where NCR, the overall champion in both the elementary and high school level, is expected to face tough opposition from perennial rivals Western Visayas and Calabarzon.

Seventeen sports were calendared in the week-long games – including softball, swimming, boxing, football and volleyball – all scheduled at the main complex.

Chess and taekwondo will be held on the Palawan State U campus, gymnastics at the Puerto Princesa City Coliseum, archery at TESDA grounds, arnis at Wescom Gym, badminton at Powerzone, baseball and table tennis at Palawan National High School and sepak takraw at People’s Amphitheater.

Medal rich swimming will stake a whopping 56 gold medals – 16 on Tuesday, 12 each on Wednesday and Thursday and 16 on Friday.

But focus is expected to fall heavily on boxing, where new talents are expected to be discovered for the country’s first Olympic medal, at the Puerto Princesa City Bay Walk, better known here as “Baybay.”

So far, the weather turned out fair, sparing thousands in the complex of heat stroke that caused two deaths in last year’s Palarong Pambansa.

The inaugurals were highlighted with several ethnic and modern production numbers and a fireworks display that lit up the city skies in the gathering dusk.

Airport stinks and no place in the inn Monday, April 21, 2008

Student athletes and tourists who flocked to Puerto Princesa for the opening of the Palarong Pambansa got an uncomfortable welcome upon arriving at the city’s airport which is currently undergoing much-needed rehabilitation and renovation.

It was learned that the recent deployment of four five-ton air-conditioning units to the airport by Transportation and Communication Secretary Leandro Mendoza failed to improve matters at the airport since the chillers could not be used in the open-air makeshift terminal.

The DOTC deployed the air-conditioners after Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn lambasted it for failing to provide an adequately-equipped temporary terminal while the rehabilitation of the old terminal building was ongoing.

Hagedorn said the renovation has turned the airport into a “stinking, termite-infested hellhole that could collapse anytime”.

Transportation from the aiport has become a problem, and this city found itself suffering traffic congestion for the first time. The city’s hotels apparently could not also cope up with the instant boom in tourism. A number of tourists, including Manila-based media men that were supposed to stay at the city’s Legende Hotel, had complained of missing hotel room bookings that have already been confirmed weeks before their arrival yesterday.

The “homeless” tourists, fortunately, were provided temporary quarters by Mayor Edward Hagedorn while awaiting vacancies in the city’s hotel rooms. – Rainier Allan Ronda

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved