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UAAP Season 74 opens the Olympic way

THE University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) opens its Season 74 in what could be the most spectacular and daring ceremony in local collegiate league history with an Olympic-like atmosphere that would gather 3,700 athletes, close to 600 program participants and close to 8,000 students, alumni and fans at the Marikina Sports Park.

With host Ateneo putting premium on all sports on the UAAP calendar, all athletes in 15 sports will march around the Park’s track oval to highlight the affair which starts promptly—rain or shine—at 4 p.m.

Season 74 president Ricky Palou and secretary treasurer Emmanuel Fernandez will head the VIP list that also includes Ateneo president Fr. Jett Villarin, SJ, the entire UAAP board, the eight member schools’ top officials, alumni and students.

Olsen Racela, one of Ateneo’s most successful products in the field of sports, will carry the torch and eventually light the cauldron to symbolize the opening of the season that will champion the theme “All Heart. All Out.” Also among the highlights of the affair is the solemn entry of colors where Ateneo cadets will bring inside the sports facility a 60 feet x 30 feet flag.

University of Santo Tomas (UST), the perennial general champion, has the most number of athletes who will join the parade with 627, followed by University of the East (UE) with 512, University of the Philippines (UP) with 425, De La Salle University with 417, Adamson University and Far Eastern University with 300 and National University (NU) with 260.

They will march before their fellow students and their respective schools’ representatives to the UAAP board—Adamson’s Rev. Fr. Maximino Rendon, CM, and Maria Luisa Isip, Ateneo’s Palou and Fernandez, De La Salle’s Edwin Theodoro Reyes and Noel Buenaventura, FEU’s Antonio Montinola and Jocelyn de Leon, NU’s Jose Nilo Ocampo and Edmundo Baculi Jr., UE’s Carmelita Mateo and Rodrigo Roque, UP’s Dr. Caesar Saloma and Dr. Leilani Gonzalo and UST’s Rev. Fr. Ermito de Sagon, OP, and Gilda Ma. Paz Kamus. Also expected in the stands are Marikina Mayor Del de Guzman and Reps. Marci Teodoro (First District) and Miro Quimbo (Second District).

The two-hour Olympic-style ceremony, according to Palou, was broached three years ago and Ateneo officially declared it a go after last season’s opening.

“But the serious work started in January this year and the actual rehearsals began in April,” according to opening ceremony project head Benjo Afuang, who added that some 4,000 color-coded umbrellas will add color to the ceremony in the event of rain. Only a typhoon, Fernandez reiterated, could stop the ceremony.

The Blue Eagles are going full-force for the opening ceremony and have deployed practically every major organization in the Katipunan campus for the event—the 30-piece Blue Symphony, Company of Ateneo Dancers, Ateneo Junior Marketing Association Dancers, Ateneo Residence Students Association Dormers Dancers, Indak (Ateneo High dancers) and the Ateneo Boys’Choir, Glee Club and Chamber Singers and a 165-strong Blue Babble Battalion.

The ceremony will wind up with a free concert featuring Sponge Cola, The Itchyworms, and Kjwan and a fireworks display.