MAMBAJAO, Camiguin–Close to 4 thousand athletes and at least a thousand support staffs, coaches, referees and sports regulators flocks to this island for a week of friendly athletic and arts meet of the Mindanao Association of State Tertiary Schools, Inc. on Saturday, November 23, 2019.
MASTS, Inc. is an organization of 31 state-funded institutions of higher education in Mindanao which is part of the larger State Colleges and Universities Athletic Association (SCUAA) that organizes the athletic programs of SUCs.
The MASTS games will run from November 23-29, 2019 but delegates started to arrive in the island on Wednesday, November 20, 2019.
Colleges students from as far as Tawi-tawi came here for the annual MASTS friendship games with 24 sports events, dance competition, performing arts, literary, pageant, musical and visual arts competitions.
MASTS president and Western Mindanao State University president Dr. Milabel Enriquez-Ho said that the supports of the the SUCs made it possible for MAST to continue its grassroots sports and athletic programs.
Enriquez-Ho said that the theme for this year is MASTS at 30: a legacy of leadership, unity and passion through sports, cultures and the art.
"We have 29 out of 31 SUCs participating this year's event, "This is the time where we express the wholistic aim of all SUCs to provide education and training together with sports, MAST 2019 friendship games calls for solidarity, unity," Enriquez-Ho said.
Camiguin Island representative Xavier Jesus Romualdo, urged the students to make lasting memories and create new friends.
"My fundest memories when i was a student-athlete is when we will have out of town games or set to join competitions of towns, like competitions like this, these experiences allowed us to play at different level usually at higher levels of competition and thus become better athletes," XJ Romualdo said.
XJ added that sports events allows them to bond and grow closer as a team and meet and make new friends from other schools from different places.
"This is really the great thing about sports, the arts and competition- they had this unique power to bring us closes together if we came from very diverse background, it has this way of changing our hearts and opening up ourselves to others in a ways that maybe business or politics cannot," XJ Romualdo said.
"When you see these group of young people with different shapes and backgrounds coming from different provinces and communities competing and playing the right way and celebrating each other, that shows us something about what Mindanao is, and what we can be," XJ Romualdo added.
Camiguin first bid to host MAST in 2017 but failed to get the honor. This is also the first time that a MAST game is held in an Island province.
Camiguin Governor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo said that he felt sentimental seeing the athletes from across Mindanao together in a single event.
"We proved that we can do it, we are peaceful here in Mindanao, that we can work together for peace," Romuald said.
"You will become the spokesperson of your community, you can tell them that we are peaceful in Mindanao," Romualdo said.