Skutniks vs sports in the SonaBy Percy D. Della
Philippine Daily Inquirer
“I LIKE some of what P-Noy has said and what he is doing,” Mike M. Keon said during lunch at Max’s Restaurant in Candon City, Ilocos Sur, earlier this week.
Mike was the country’s sports czar during the regime of his uncle, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, undoubtedly the bitterest political rival of President Aquino’s clan. The 59-year-old Keon was reacting to the current Chief Executive’s State of the Nation Address like any other political junkie.
The former Ilocos Norte governor and ex-head of the Philippine Olympic Committee made a quick stop in my adopted hometown while in transit from Laoag City to his farm in Baguio City.
Keeping kudos to P-Noy close to his vest, Mike said without going into specifics that he admires the good governance shown and the reforms being done by the President and hopes the current Malacañang tenant extends these to sports.
It only took a few minutes for Mike to call yet again for the creation of a full-fledged Department of Sports to keep sports maladies and their cures closer to the President’s ears during Cabinet meetings. Keon’s recurring statement has since been parroted by several armchair crusaders.
Mike opened up when it came to the feel good moments in the Sona. The erstwhile director of the fruitful Gintong Alay program bemoaned the Sona’s lack of even a single line about sports.
Having said that, Mike, straight shooting as ever, observed that the President’s drumbeaters could have squeezed blood out of a turnip and would not have found a single, monumental PH achievement in the athletic disciplines to crow about.
Sports would have been a perfect natural high for a mesmerized nation as the President made eye-to-eye contact with the masses. Yet, Palace speechwriters ignored sports altogether as they zoomed in on economic achievements, a harvest of infrastructure projects and the Herculean fight against graft and corruption as their applause magnets.
It’s true that noteworthy sports feats, if there were any, would have enriched the good to be Filipino flavor of P-Noy’s Sona as he called on his own Lenny Skutniks to take their bow.
A trio of gallant police officers, a general who has served him and his mother, President Cory, faithfully, a limbless man who crawled for four floors in order to vote and a slew of Cabinet members who shone in
P-Noy’s book were the heroes of his Sona.
Lenny Skutniks refer to individuals invited to sit in the Presidential Box at a Sona. The term came from the name of Lenny Skutnik, a federal government employee who courageously saved a survivor of a plane crash in the cold, raging waters of the Potomac River during the United States presidency of the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan.
Reagan invited Skutnik to his 1982 Sona and every US President and head of state with a flair for drama has since imitated his style of connecting with the people while addressing their nations.
In P-Noy’s Sona, the Skutniks scored a bundle. Sports garnered zilch.
ERRATA: There were no glitzes, only technical glitches on the part of the POC’s lawyers in their losing Supreme Court effort to unseat athletics chief Go Teng Kok not too long ago.
The POC bosses would love to be present for the recreation of athletics without GTK. Could that happen during their terms of office? Only time can tell.
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