In the SEA Games: Art as anomaly | Inquirer Sports
Bare Eye

In the SEA Games: Art as anomaly

/ 04:00 AM November 23, 2019

There has been no formal confirmation yet that Sen. Manny Pacquiao would light the SEA Games flame at New Clark City in Tarlac on Nov. 30. CNN Philippines made a flash report midday Thursday about Pacquiao’s monumental role in the country’s hosting of the massive biennial regional meet.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano always had ready answers, like that one saying the SEA Games flame design was a work of art, and therefore priceless.


Cayetano, chair of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc), was besieged with questions in a press conference on Thursday during the inspection of facilities at New Clark City in Tarlac.

Cayetano busied himself defending the huge expenditure for the Games flame that blew up into an anomalous issue after Sen. Franklin Drilon called the cauldron a caldero, while blasting its exorbitant cost.


The issue turned too serious to the point that certain sectors started asking why the 30th SEA Games, originally set in Brunei, had ended up in the Philippines.

For the record, the upcoming Games, offered to the Philippines after Brunei begged off, was initially planned for Mindanao. The siege of Marawi had led President Rodrigo Duterte to turn it down. However, a group of sports leaders, led by former Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Peping Cojuangco, saw an ace in Cayetano, who, backed by Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, succeeded in convincing Malacañang to reconsider and agree to the hosting.

Cayetano takes a lead role in the hosting as Phisgoc head. Phisgoc has top national sports officials, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chair William “Butch” Ramirez and POC president Abraham Tolentino, for vice chairs.

It naturally came as a surprise when Ramirez cried on Thursday he had never thought the expenses for the Games flame had ballooned incredibly.

“Hindi ko alam ganoon talaga kalaki,” he was caught by CNN Philippines gasping.

Tolentino was not around.

This led others to wonder if the main figures in the Phisgoc had been in close coordination at all.


Meanwhile, Cayetano, chief decision maker, made a startling announcement on Thursday that Pacquiao would be a main participant in the Games opening ceremonies.

Maybe he was too preoccupied that Cayetano failed to clarify how Pacquiao could properly light the flame in Clark City in Tarlac, while the 30th Southeast Games itself will have its formal opening at the Philippine Coliseum in Bulacan.

No answers yet as of press time how the Games, with a theme “We Win As One,” could avoid ending up being launched from two separate venues.

As to the expected postgame auditing, the Commission on Audit, or the Senate body that will tackle the alleged overspending, could only roll with the tyrannical claim that there need not be a total cost check because the anomalous cauldron that blew into a political issue, is, arrggh!, a work of art and therefore priceless.

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