Philippine team lost in the wilderness
PALEMBANG—You could easily get lost in this young, colorful metropolis abuzz with flashy Japanese cars and countless work-bound people on motorbikes. But no need to worry, there are always the courteous folks, ready with an honest greeting and heartfelt smile, to lead you back.
For the Philippine delegation to the 26th Southeast Asian Games, the stint in this charming capital could’ve led to a recovery from past debacles.
A return from the wilderness, if you like.
Based on pre-departure claims by the country’s sports leaders, represented in this case by the head of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), there should be a landmark medal output here denoting a bright, new thrust in national sports development.
As PSC chair Richie Garcia had figured out in Manila, they should be able to harvest a total of 70 gold medals.
Of course, eyebrows were readily raised over that lofty projection.
It was not easy to figure out where he based that very generous goal.
Just the same, Garcia was given the element of doubt.
He could, in fact, have some secret chambers through which he could spring a surprise.
Ironically, Garcia did not have to wait long.
The moment results started trickling in, with the Philippines promptly stuck at sixth—already a demotion of its shameful fifth finish in Laos 2009—the PSC chieftain reacted like a kid lost in the wilderness.
Asked what was the matter with sputtering Team Philippines, Garcia picked a very shallow alibi.
“Our preparations were not good. We found it difficult to gather our best athletes in some regions because of the limited communication facilities such as internet and telephone,” he explained.
That statement, to repeat, was received with disdain and disbelief by members of the Philippine media here, who themselves often had to muster enough strength and courage to cope with below-par communications, slow flow of Games results, not to mention the absence of regular transportation to playing venues.
That cheap alibi from the PSC head was rated truly dishonest and laughed off by Filipino media men working at the Games.
Anyway, while we were waiting for an official statement from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), whose head Jose Cojuangco Jr. has not been seen around here, the PSC dropped another stink bomb when asked a second time about the PH team problem.
It was hard to believe, but Garcia was said to have told GMA 7 the main culprit was their being caught in a period of transition.
This indeed is Garcia’s first international outing here since taking over as PSC chair.
Unfortunately, that shallow claim would also hint that he took over a mess when, in fact, Harry Angping, the fellow he succeeded, had done a great job putting the PSC in order.
It’s a little odd, but as things have started to sound around here, with the Games coming to a close today, the PSC did appear like a kid that has lost his way around here.
He could not be helped back because, in the first place, he obviously did not know where he was going.
The PSC chief came here seeking a gold medal harvest when, in fact, what he had planted, in tandem with the POC president, were seeds of divisiveness and unrest in our unfertilized but over-exploited national sports field.