MANILA, Philippines — “We won as one!”
The greatest takeaway from the country’s successful hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, according to Senator Pia Cayetano, was the opportunity to showcase the skill and ability of Filipino athletes to win as one – not just before their home crowd but to the entire region.
The senator was among the thousands of spectators who flocked to the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, on Wednesday night (December 11) to witness the grand closing ceremony of what has been described as the “biggest” SEA Games to date.
“I cannot be any prouder. If I was an athlete, wala na akong hihingin pa,” the former national volleyball athlete and UAAP champion said.
“I thank the volunteers, the organizers, including my brother, Alan, and his team,” Cayetano said, referring to her younger brother, House Speaker and Philippine SEA Games Organizational Committee (PHISGOC) Chair Alan Peter Cayetano.
“I think they did an amazing job. People from the audience and our guests from other countries were all telling me na pang world-class talaga,” she shared in an ambush interview on the sidelines of the event.
Cayetano stressed that the Philippines’ claiming of the overall championship was made possible by the government’s readiness to invest in sports development, particularly in building new world-class facilities in New Clark City; refurbishing old ones such as the 84-year-old Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila and the Philsports Arena in Pasig City; and showcasing other areas for sports tourism, including Subic and Clark in Central Luzon, La Union in Northern Luzon, and Biñan City and Tagaytay City in Southern Tagalog, among others.
In addition, she noted that more support was given by the government to Filipino athletes in terms of subsidies, training, exposure, and cash rewards and recognition, particularly from President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
“That’s really what we want: to give our athletes world-class facilities; show the whole world that the Philippines has arrived; and that we can elevate whatever we do to the next highest level,” she said.
Meanwhile, the senator likewise welcomed the positive feedback from the next SEA Games host, Vietnam, whose sports officials were reported to have told media that it would be a challenge for them to duplicate the quality and magnitude of this year’s hosting.
“Sabi naman ni Alan, he’s even willing to go [to Vietnam] and share whatever knowledge he has gained. Though this [hosting] was not easy, and it’s never perfect, we still won as one,” Cayetano stressed.
“Ang pananaw ni Alan dito ay magtulong-tulong tayo. Kanya-kanya tayong strength and we want to help our neighbor and friend [Vietnam] to also have a successful hosting of the 31st SEA Games in 2021,” she concluded. (PRIB/IAMIGO/CNS)