CAMIGUIN, Philippines — As the country prepares for the Southeast Asian Games, athletes from the state universities and colleges (SUCs) in Mindanao have converged here to compete in the 30th Mindanao Association of State Tertiary Schools (MASTS) Friendship Games starting Sunday (Nov. 24) until Nov. 29.
About 4,000 delegates from 29 out of 31 SUCs across Mindanao arrived here as early as Wednesday (Nov. 20) aboard buses and vans.
The MASTS Friendship Games, consisting of 24 sports events, dance contests, performing arts, literary, pageant, musical and visual arts competitions, will wrap up just as the SEA Games will kick off on Nov. 30.
Camiguin Gov. Jurdin Jesus Romualdo said the MASTS games will be a sort of a “prelude” to the SEA Games, saying it is the best time to show to other Asian nations that the country, particularly Mindanao, is peaceful contrary to news reports of violent extremism and armed insurgency in some parts of southern Philippines.
“This proves that peace can be achieved, that there is no need for violence. Why fight when we can be diplomatic? If you can talk, then do it. If you want to enjoy sports or tourism, then promote it,” he told the delegation gathered at the Pedro P. Romualdo Memorial Sports Complex in Mambajao town during the opening ceremonies Saturday evening.
The governor also urged the delegates to be his “spokespersons” and help promote Camiguin when they go back to their respective home provinces.
Dr. Milabel Enriquez-Ho, MASTS president and Western Mindanao State University president, said this year’s theme is “Masts at 30: A legacy of leadership, unity, and passion through sports, cultures and the art.”
The Friendship Games, she said, is the time where “we express the holistic aim of all SUCs to provide education and training together with sports.”
Meanwhile, Camiguin Lone District Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo said the event is an opportunity to foster unity among students and athletes.
“This is really the great thing about sports, the arts, and competition. They had this unique power to bring us closer together (even) if we come from a very diverse background,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mambajao Mayor Iñigo Jesus Romualdo has appealed to the delegates to observe cleanliness during their stay on the island.
“Please remember to clean as you go and segregate your waste to our designate trash bin. This is a simple act that can contribute to the protection and preservation of the environment,” the mayor said.
Camiguin is now considered as one of the prime tourist destinations in the country with its hot and cold springs, waterfalls, white and black sand beaches, historical sites, and dive spots. It is also known for its lanzones, with its sweetness attributed to the volcanic soil of the island. (davaotoday.com)