LAOAG CITY, ILOCOS NORTE - Ilocos Norte is rapidly transforming into a destination for sports tourism, with the province gearing up to host a series of major sporting events, including the Under-19 National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) regional championship in January 2024.
According to Philippines News Agency, Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc highlighted the economic and tourism benefits of these events at the launch held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. Cebu, Sarangani, and Batangas provinces will also host regional championships, culminating in the national finals at the MOA Arena. NBTC program director Eric Altamirano emphasized the initiative's role in discovering Filipino talent from the provinces and developing skills and leadership. Ilocos Norte is also set to host the Region 1 Athletic Association Meet, a national beach volleyball tournament, Tinman triathlon, and international rowing and surfing competitions in 2024. Helen Domingo, the provincial sports development officer, mentioned collaboration with local government units and schools for the 'Play Safe Fearless Program' to ensure training venues. Additionally, Ilocos Norte will host the 2025 Palarong Pambansa, a national multi-sport event for students, at various venues including the renovated Ferdinand E. Marcos Memorial Stadium. The Laoag city government has allocated PHP15 million for the development of a track field and other sports facilities, including the establishment of the Laoag City Sports Development Council.