Batang Pinoy on in storm-hit Baguio; athletes in distress

MANILA, Philippines — The Batang Pinoy national championships gets going today in Baguio City with finals on tap in at least 10 events right on the first day of the annual event for athletes 15 years old and below.

Organizers did away with the opening ceremonies due to typhoon Ompong with the bulk of the 7,000 athletes, coaches and officials enduring power outage and lack of food in their billeting venues, according to the parents of the participants.

Meanwhile, the finals in cycling (mountain bike and road), futsal, gymnastics, judo, muay thai, triathlon, duathlon, weightlifting, wrestling and wushu will be held today.

Other events on tap are archery, arnis, athletics, baseball, basketball (boys and girls), boxing, chess, dancesports, karatedo, pencak silat, sepak takraw, softball, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, volleyball (boys and girls) and beach volleyball.

Delegations from 88 local government units around the country were housed in Baguio City High School for Luzon (36 LGUs, 1,127 athletes), Baguio Central School, Josefa Carino Elementary School and Pines City National High School for Visayas (26 LGUs, 516 athletes), and Quezon Elementary School, SPED Center and Mabini Elementary School for Mindanao (26 LGUs, 572 athletes).

The 10-man Tacloban swimming team aged 12-15 years old were joined by their parents, including Juvy Breva, mother of 12-year-old tanker Wincie Jade Breva, who said that though the Tacloban swimmers received a P3,000 allowance from the Philippine Sports Commission upon registration, they have not received any assistance in form of food or any relief goods.

The Tacloban youth team, which Breva said was not scared despite the heavy rains and strong winds since they have survived the onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda, was staying in the Baguio Central School.

“Walang kuryente po. Wala din po kaming free food dito. Kami po ang bumibili ng pagkain sa mga bata kasi binigyan naman po sila ng allowance na P3,000. Kaya lang po wala kaming mabilhan sa ngayon kasi nga po malakas ang ulan at hangin. Hindi po namin alam kung may bukas po na tindahan. May nagbibigay po ba, Ma’am, ng libreng pagkain?” Breva told The STAR.

The PSC said “the city government formed a quick response team to ensure the well-being of the Batang Pinoy athletes at the various billeting stations in the city” and that “coordinators were deployed in each billeting center to ensure enough food and water supply, address the medical needs and ensure the safe and comfortable condition of the housing areas as the city reels from the brunt of Typhoon Ompong.”

The North Cotabato swimmers, meanwhile, chose to stay in a hotel with their two coaches. They have stocked up on food and water good for two days on instructions of the parents and have not experienced any power outage or problems in communication lines but Jocelyn Talosig, mother of swimmers John Alexander Michael Talosig, 14, and Jie Angela Mikaela Talosig, 12, could not help but be worried. She will be heading to Baguio City today if weather permits to accompany her children in the competition.

“Hindi lang po last night ang worries namin but since they left on Thursday (for a 1:25 p.m. flight). We are monitoring TV news and social media as well. Gumising ako ng 3 a.m. (yesterday morning) kasi 2 a.m. sa news ang landfall. But upon checking through their coach na they are asleep doon na po ako nakampante,” said Talosig.

“Noong lumabas sa news na may parating na bagyo, napaisip kaming parents kung tutuloy o hindi but we waited for PSC’s decision since sila ang nakakaalam ng sitwasyon. Sila ang nasa area. And most of it is we trust them,” added Talosig.

Fifteen-year-old taekwondo jin Francine Padios of Aklan was joined by her mother Doneza Padios who chose that her child stay in the hotel with her instead after assessing that the accommodation in Baguio Central School was not “conducive.”

“We stayed at Sisko Inn because the weather has turned much colder and we thought that the accommodation provided by PSC may not be conducive for us taking into account our food, warm shelter and the rest of the accomodations.

The rest of the delegations left in the school shelter provided by PSC are having problems on food as they cannot go out and probably [did not have] warm shelter or linens too,” said Padios.

Padios observed that around 20 athletes shared one room and were given individual 2-inch foam sleeping mats.

Meanwhile, Marikina’s 67-man delegation from baseball, sepak takraw, volleyball, arnis, archery, swimming and gymnastics, returned immediately after arriving in Baguio City Thursday night and learned that the storm will change its course and a typhoon signal No. 3 will be raised in the city. The delegates left Baguio City that night and arrived back home in Manila early Friday morning.

Davao City’s 301-strong delegation’s trip was cancelled Wednesday by Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.