The Senate of the Philippines has officially approved, on the third and final reading of Senate Bill No. 1086, the creation of the Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS), where young generations of student-athletes will be trained to become world champions.
PHSS will be the sports counterpart to the Philippine Science High School (PSHS) and the Philippine High School for the Arts (PHSA). Just as the national science and arts high school were created to train the best performing Filipino students from all backgrounds in the sciences and the arts, PHSS will be a "sports grassroots program" for local sports prodigies.
As we get one step closer to the bill becoming reality, here's everything we know so far about PHSS.
Who will be recruited?
According to the bill, the students that will be recruited/accepted will be those committed to a "long-term career in sports."
"The end view of this legislation is to unleash the potential of young Filipinos who have shown early potential of excelling in sports for a sports-related career," said senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Committee on Education, Arts, and Culture, during a senate session on February 26.
The bill also stated how the school will adopt alternative and equitable admissions processes for indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and students from other marginalized groups.
Where will it be located?
PHSS will be located at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, where the New Clark City Sports Hub was built to host the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. The bill stipulated that the school will be granted access to New Clark City's existing sports facilities, which include an athletes' village, aquatics center, and a 20,000-seater stadium.
"Mama-maximize natin 'yung mga pasilidad na ipinatayo na sa New Clark City. Kung 'di natin gagamitin 'yun, masasayang," said Gatchalian in an December interview with ABS-CBN. "If you want world-class athletes, let them experience world-class facilities."
The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) will be assigned to provide land for the sports high school, and will be in charge of constructing classrooms, dormitories, and other necessary sports facilities.
In a February interview with Spin.ph, BCDA president Vince Dizon envisioned New Clark City as becoming a central hub for sports, with the PHSS a vital part of the plan. When we spoke with Dizon, the law had not yet been passed, but he said, "That's going to be passed this year, that's the commitment of Congress, but we're already starting the planning even before that. We're building a new national high school for sports, which will be done before 2021."
What will the curriculum be?
Just as the PSHS and PHSA have specialized curricula, PHSS will emphasize the development of athletic skills through its physical education and sports development classes.
As the school is still in its infancy stage, we can only assume that it will follow the footsteps of the national science and art schools where students get to choose a core elective (possibly a sport) in their later years.
And just as PSHS is affiliated with the Department of Science and Technology and PHSA is affiliated with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Cultural Center of the Philippines, PSS will be affiliated with the Philippine Sports Commission and attached to the Department of Education.
Why was the bill created?
The bill was created to produce globally competitive athletes, as PHSS' end goal is to create sporting professionals "who are competitive in the national, Southeast Asian, Asian, and Olympic levels."
Gatchalian recognized how the Philippines has been lagging behind the rest of the world in international competitions and events, noting that, while the Philippines has won 10 Olympic medals (three silver, seven bronze), none of which have been gold.
How much is the tuition?
The bill stated that PHSS will offer "full and partial scholarships to students with exceptional potential."
In an interview with Manila Bulletin, Dizon stated last year that each student would receive a full scholarship for the six years of junior and senior high school, as well as free lodging at the Athlete's Village, where the dormitory may be located. However, this was not explicitly stated in the bill, and there may be future changes.
"This is going to be a fully subsidized high school from junior to senior, where we will have scholars who will be recruited through the Philippine Sports Commission and from the Department of Education," explained Dizon. "They are going to be our top age groupers for all the sports-athletics, aquatics, football, gymnastics, boxing, all these other sports. They will also have access to the facilities here."
When will it open?
The BCDA president previously stated that they hope to complete the school's construction just in time for the academic year of 2021 to 2022, meaning interested applicants have a year or two left to prepare for PHSS' official recruitment.