I HAVE on occasion taken a swipe at our presence in the Southeast Asian Games, thinking that my hostility to this sporting meet was about as feeble as President Noynoy’s opposition to his vice president’s opposition party.
Unlike leaders of the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission who have the ear of the entire nation, I’ve had the scant attention of a few readers and the stout sympathy of a straight-shooting former sports czar.
For five decades and change, the SEA Games have been nothing more than a regional picnic of seven and then 11 countries, each eagerly waiting to pull a fast one over the other.
This December, host Myanmar would be able to execute its own version of the dreaded dagdag-bawas (add-subtract) routine. It is erasing some Olympic sports like gymnastics, lawn tennis and beach volleyball in favor of indigenous events with strange sounding names like kenpo, chinlone and vovinam.
The scheme’s as old as the SEA Games themselves—the host country enhancing its medal harvest with exotic, native games foreign to its neighbors, to hold off rivals breathing down its neck in the overall standings.
In the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia, PH placed sixth, ahead of Myanmar. The old dagdag-bawas plot spells doom for the combatants excited to escape the ignominy of landing in the bottom half of the medal totals.
Of late, it has become plain that the ex-sports bigwig and I haven’t been mere pests after all. Although they are still not in sync with the thinking that to sharpen our focus and save money for the Asian Games and eventually the Olympics, we should ignore the SEA Games altogether. Our sports leaders have acted with alacrity for once.
Along with its counterpart in Singapore, and I heard Indonesia our POC has called for a new roster of events in the SEA Games.
Myanmar’s move has spurred a call for a fresh slate that should highlight Olympic sports as much as possible—exactly as my ally has espoused if we were to remain in the SEA Games.
“We don’t aim to kill the indigenous sports, since they are part of Southeast Asia’s rich cultural heritage,” says POC first vice president and official spokesman Joey Romasanta. “But above all considerations, more emphasis should be on competitions in the Olympic disciplines.”
Romasanta says that at the last SEA Games Federation council meeting last month, a plan was mentioned (and hopefully it prospers) that medals won in native games would not count at all in the final gold-silver-bronze tally.
Excluding the cost of training that’s been ongoing since last year, PSC chair Richie Garcia says P30 million—P50 million less than in 2011 when we had a lot larger delegation—will be spent for the Myanmar mission. It has been justified as an extension of the drill to prepare athletes for both the Asiad and the Olympiad.
My daughter Welly thought it was a slam dunk sending refills of my prescription medication from California. She sent the meds on Jan. 16 via priority mail that was supposed to be at the main PhilPost office in Manila in six to eight business days. My parcel is yet to arrive in Candon City, Ilocos Sur.