Recognizing Male and Female Athletes of the Year in Every Elementary and Secondary School

LGU:  Municipality of Sumilao, Bukidnon
Date Posted:  November 25, 2021

With the recent 2021 Tokyo Olympics, there has been a sudden shift of lens, focusing on the unrecognized talent of our Filipino athletes. More than the medals and tangible awards, the greatest pride is knowing that our athletes reclaimed our place in sports, and left a permanent mark for future athletes who wish to navigate the field.

In the global setting, this has been the case, yet there is a different reality on the ground. There has been low funding for sports and has not been the core focus on most budget allocation legislation. Besides, most national sports funding is Manila-centric. However, this is one of the situations Coun. George Jeremy  Baula of Sumilao, Bukidnon is trying to improve. Last 2018, he authored an ordinance recognizing the elementary and high school athletes in his municipality by allocating a budget for the athletes’ monetary recognition. Specifically, both female and male athletes of the elementary division will receive PHP 400.00 each, and PHP 800.00 for Junior and Senior athletes of the year. Albeit small, it paved a way for the athletes’ confidence to be bolstered.

Baula also proudly shared that Sumilao excelled in taekwondo, wrestling, and chess; and that Sumilao always scores medals in the said sports. Like most ordinances, it went through a rigorous process; factors such as the availability of funds, support from his fellow members of the Sanggunian, and even the participation of the stakeholders, were considered. Further, to ensure that the ordinance is tailor-fit to the needs of the stakeholders, several consultations in the form of public hearings were held. The objectives of the ordinance received a positive response from them; that finally, there will be an institutionalized policy recognizing the achievements of Sumilao’s athletes.

After all these thorough processes of drafting and consultations, the implementation of the ordinance itself was smooth-sailing. In coordination with Sumilao's Department of Education and the school heads, there have been no major problems encountered in its implementation.

And since its implementation in 2018, there has been a noticeable improvement in the overall conditions, confidence, and character of the athletes. Baula also took note that some of the awarded athletes were being scouted for universities and were indeed excelling. Additionally, since its implementation, more than a hundred student-athletes have already been awarded.

Baula further stressed that this ordinance is just supplementary legislation as Sumilao is already allocating funds for their sports programs (e.g., training, equipment, and allowances).

Ultimately, as one of their success indicators also, Sumilao's rank in the DepEd tournament standings has significantly risen, from being in the near bottom to placing the second overall ranking in 2019’s provincial meet. Moreover, there has been a notable increase in the number of sports clubs in the municipality. For the policy’s unintended outcome, there has been a clamor from schools to the LGU to also give cash incentives to students who excel academically, an initiative Baula is also looking into.

Towards the end, Baula urged his fellow legislators to immerse themselves in the communities and the people they serve. In this way, you will be able to converse and know firsthand the problems they have and ultimately solve them. Lastly, Baula stressed the importance of visiting other municipalities and gaining new perspectives, and replicating best practices from his fellow legislators.