A BRIEF HISTORY OF COMPETITIVE ATHLETICS
IN THE PHILIPPINES
From historical accounts about the Philippines, one can readily that certain types of competitive athletics were enjoyed as early as the pre-Spanish period by the Filipinos. Games which were brought to the Philippines shores from Malaya, Indonesia, China, and India did not enjoy as much popularity as in their later period. When the Spaniards came to this country their primary objectiveswere to spread Christianity and to exploit its natural resources. It is evident that education and competitive athletics did not receive much attention from them. However, historical facts seem to point out that more extensive and organized athletics were introduced by the Americans since they landed in Manila on December 10, 1896. While the United States armed forces were busy establishing the military government, the soldiers were playing games among themselves such as baseball, basketball, and track and field. At the same time, The Philippine public school system patterned after that of the United States was being established. American soldiers and some civilians took up teaching positions in as many public schools as the government could possibly put up. On August 23, 1901, there arrived in Manila a reinforcement of American teachers on board the United States transport “Thomas”. Without much delay, these teachers were distributed all over the country, establishing and teaching in more public schools. As a natural consequence, while the public school system was being set up, athletics and physical education were also being emphasized by the American tutors. In short time, regular programme of athletic contests in schools was developed. The Filipinos were found to be very eager to learn the American sports, and soon, they were playing these sports and games well. With almost all the American teachers fresh from their college athletics back home, it did not take long before interschool competitions began to flourish in all public schools. Baseball and track and field were among the first sports included in the schools’ athletic programme. Baseball, indoor baseball, tennis, and volleyball were introduced soon after. As these sports became popular in schools, the need for more organized competition began to be felt. School teams started to show eagerness in displaying their acquired skills in broader field competitions. In the meantime, plans were being held for the organization of athletic associations among the public schools. In 1904, the Bureau of Education started to encourage the organization of inter-provincial athletic competitions among the public schools. One of the objectives was to provide wholesome competition among the various school teams throughout the country. While the assistance of many American teachers who had athletic experiences in their colleges back home, the plan generated great enthusiasm and interest. The first inter-provincial association to be established was the Southern Luzon Athletic Association organized in 1904 and included baseball in its program. The provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, and Masbate composed the association. Its first meet was held in Sorsogon in April, 1905. A year later, in 1906, the province of Ambos Camarines joined the association. The Central Luzon Athletic Association organized in 1907 was comprised the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, and Nueva Ecija. It held its first athletic meet in February 1908, and included baseball and track and field in its competitive program. In Manila were the seat of the new government was being established, the organization of competitive athletics started, esp. baseball, much earlier. The existence of several schools in Manila made possible the conducting of more progressive types of competitions. As early as 1903, a series of baseball games were played, not only by schools in Manila, but also by teams from nearby provinces. However, it was not until 1909 when the Manila...
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