MANILA, August 7— A fitting salute to our Filipino warriors bound for the 29th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in Kuala Lumpur.
On August 10 before dusk, some 495 battle-tested national and developmental athletes will be given a send-off party aimed at boosting their morale and confidence in matching skills against the athletes from nine other ASEAN countries.
Top officials led by Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, who will represent President Rodrigo Roa Duterte; Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr; and Cynthia Carreon, president of the local gymnastics federation and the Philippine delegation Chef-de-mission; will lead the momentous activity to be held at the CITEM building in Pasay City.
“Buong Bansa, Pugay Kamay Sa ‘yo Atletang Pilipino.Kampeon Ka sa Bilis, Gilas at Galing,” will mark the theme’s event.
The Philippines will be participating in 41 events in 37 sports disciplines out of the 38 calendared by host Kuala Lumpur, which will be hosting the biennial meet for the sixth time.
A tough challenge await the Filipino athletes, who will try to surpass the 29-36-66 (gold-silver-bronze) medal haul to finish 6th overall in the 2015 games held in Singapore.
For the record, the Philippines joined the regional sports meet in 1977 and the Filipino athletes’ sacrifices finally bore fruit by winning the overall championship in 2005.
It first hosted the biennial meet in 1981 and then in 1991 despite the two natural calamities — Mt Pinatubo eruption and the July 16 (1990) “killer” quake — wherein sports became one of the unifying factors in the Filipino’s resiliency.
In this year’s Southeast Asian Games, sports again hopes to inspire the Filipino spirit of togetherness amid challenges.