MANILA – The remainder of the Philippine delegation in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics has finally returned home after attending the Games’ closing ceremony.
The last batch of the Olympic squad, which is mainly composed of the entire boxing team that won three medals during the final week of the event, flew in via Philippine Airlines flight PR427 and arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 at around 5 p.m. Monday.
Senate committee on sports chairman Bong Go and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea personally welcomed silver medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, bronze medalist Eumir Marcial, and medal contender Irish Magno.
Philippine Air Force (PAF) chief, Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes, also welcomed Airman First Class Marcial and the rest of the boxers.
The Philippine boxing team had its most fruitful Olympics yet, scoring multiple medals for the first time ever.
The boxing team was accompanied by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino who earlier promised to give PHP3 million cash reward for an Olympic gold medal, PHP2 million for silver medal, and PHP1 million for bronze medal as well as house and lot for medalists.
The most bemedaled boxing team later paid a virtual courtesy call on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, who gave them additional cash rewards on top of the incentives provided by law.
Duterte said Petecio and Paalam each will receive PHP2 million while Marcial will get PHP1 million. He also said other Olympians who did not win medal will receive PHP200,000 each.
Based on Republic Act No. 10699 or An Act Expanding the Coverage of Incentives Granted to National Athletes and Coaches, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz will get PHP10 million for winning the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal, Petecio and Paalam will receive PHP5 million each, and Marcial will take home PHP2 million.
'Hope and inspiration' for Filipinos
Earlier in the day, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president Ramon Ang expressed his gratitude to all the Filipino medalists for giving the Philippines good news in these trying times brought by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
“The message of this Olympic campaign for us Filipinos is clear. We are resilient in the face of challenges and we do not back down from adversity. This pandemic is perhaps one of the greatest challenges in our lifetime. Thank you Hidilyn, Carlo, Nesthy, and Eumir for giving us hope and inspiration during this critical time. You showed us that nothing is impossible,” Ang said. "As a longtime partner and supporter of Philippine sports, I’m so happy for our athletes. All their hard work paid off. They’ve opened the eyes of so many Filipinos sports patrons, fans, and aspiring athletes that indeed, we Filipinos can compete and win against the best in the world in the Olympics."
Ang hopes that the Philippine team will continue to sustain its newfound success in the world's biggest sports stage.
"This is just the beginning. We have the momentum. We can only get stronger in the succeeding Olympics," he said. "We can build on these successes to develop stronger sports programs and produce more Olympic winners like Hidilyn, Carlo, Nesthy, and Eumir."
Ang will be giving PHP10 million to Diaz, PHP5 million each to Petecio and Paalam, and PHP2 million to Marcial as part of his pre-Olympic pledge.
Meanwhile, one of SMC's popular products, Ginebra San Miguel, revealed a special label as a tribute to the Philippine team.
"This tribute label is our way of recognizing their ‘Bagong Tapang’ (new courage) and never-say-die spirit," says Ginebra San Miguel Brand manager Paolo Tupaz.
On whether the tribute label will literally be in the gin bottles like what Ginebra did to its special label last year featuring the medical frontliners remains to be seen, although the Tokyo Olympic edition label went viral on social media when it was posted there. (PNA)