MANILA -- The miracle of 2005 is within grasp but there’s more than scooping the golds for the Philippines in the ongoing 30th Southeast Asian Games.
While action continues in various fronts, Philippine Sports Commission chair and chef de mission William ‘’Butch’’ Ramirez said the biennial Games also showed what unity can do to a country, being burdened by negativity and various differences.
Ramirez, also the chef de mission when the Philippines took the overall title in 2005 hosted by the country, said the sense of patriotism among the Filipinos was awakened by the SEA Games.
“Filipinos from all walks of life passionately cheered the nationals win or loss. The cheering, of course, was heard round the archipelago, especially if a Filipino bet wins the coveted gold,” Ramirez said in a statement on Sunday.
“Almost to the final stretch, and I am grateful to God for the steady performance of our team. More than the medal haul, I am thankful for all the sacrifice and hard work that went behind pushing their chances for a shining moment of victory. However, I mean to train the light on the stories beyond these victories. The stories that teach us all lessons, as a sporting community, as a people and as a nation,’’ the official said.
As of posting time, the Philippines is the runaway leader in the overall medal tally with a total of 274 medals -- 105 golds, 81 silvers and 88 bronze medals. Indonesia with 65 golds and Vietnam with 60 golds are battling it out for second place.
Under Ramirez, the PSC continues to focus on the grassroots but the agency’s heartfelt support to the athletes has resulted to a robust delegation bursting with pride, talent, and dedication as can be gleaned by the results.
‘‘Having the privilege of being both the PSC Chairman and the Chef de Mission, I am witness to the many beautiful stories behind this event, and given a glimpse into the legacies that the SEAG will leave. The gains from this event does not end when the curtains come down on the 30th SEAG edition. On top of the victories, there are many long-term advantages -- legacies -- the SEAG gifted us with,’’ Ramirez said.
He added that after the SEAG, the country will have the wide pool of new athletes eyeing to become the next Kiyomi Watanabe, Margielyn Didal, EJ Obiena, Carlos Yulo, Hidilyn Diaz, and other world-class Pinoy athletes.
He also praised the volunteers for their efforts. ‘’ Sports instills values like discipline, dedication and respect for others -- values needed for a healthier society -- a mandate of the PSC.
“It awakened the bayanihan spirit and volunteerism among us. The very spirit shown by the heroism of Roger Casugay who gave up his chance for a golden finish to save an opponent at risk of losing his life to the very waves they play in. Truly a class act. A solid show of Filipino spirit,” he said.
Casugay, who rescued his Indonesian rival Arip Nurhidayat whose leash was detached from the surfboard during the preliminaries two days ago, eventually won the gold medal and praises both from the Filipino and foreign athletes and officials.
Ramirez, of course, did not mention that in a true display of camaraderie, Filipino sports fans are also united in cheering that Timor Leste will not go home empty-handed in the medal table. (PR)