Don’t mix politics with the SEA Games
We are gold medal winners in politics already, noted veteran broadcaster Orlando Mercado.
No stranger to politics himself, Mercado probably does not care much about the concept of boxing, running, cycling, tumbling, swimming or even grunting for nothing but glory.
But with all sorts of critics of the organizers of the 30th Southeast Asian Games firing on all cylinders, Mercado, a legendary radio man who became a senator and national defense chief, said it is best to leave the harvesting of gold medals to Team Philippines as competitions in the 11-nation meet reached their halfway mark.
On the Channel 5 news commentary and public service morning show “Early, All Ready” earlier this week, Mercado and his cohost Cheryl Cosim agreed with a spokesperson of the embattled Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) that Filipinos, sports fans or not, should support local athletes to give them a morale-boosting home-court advantage until the Games conclude on Dec. 11.
Phisgoc, sure to face a Malacañang probe for alleged irregularity in the preparations for the Games, has apologized more than once for the early logistical foul ups that marred the start of the country’s hosting of the subcontinental Olympics.
With 530 events in 56 sports in 23 cities across the Philippines, home cooking is working for the nationals.
Midway into the Games, Team Philippines, sixth placer in the 2017 edition, appears well on its way to repeat as overall champion since winning the title when the country last hosted the event in 2005.
As I write this, the Philippine juggernaut continues unmolested. Led by gymnast Carlos Yulo and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, the country’s brightest prospects for ending its Olympic gold drought, Team Philippines had 58 gold medals, more than twice the yield of second placer Vietnam with 28 golds. Defending champion Malaysia was in a tie with Indonesia for third with 22 apiece.
There will be viewing parties galore in my hometown, Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija, should the broadcast of the SEA Games zoom in on athletics competitions on Dec. 8 and 9. That’s when the town’s sports hero, Aries Toledo, defends his decathlon title.
The expectation of Cuyapenos, led by Mayor Florida Paguio Esteban, is somewhat tempered by the 25-year old Toledo’s elbow injury during warmups in the Asian Games last year in Indonesia where he failed to suit up.