Let the games begin

Published November 28, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

J. Albert Gamboa
J. Albert Gamboa

At long last, the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games officially opens this weekend at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

Amid the controversies surrounding this 11-nation competition, the private and public sectors have stepped forward to assist the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) in the country’s hosting of the biennial multi-sport spectacle.

Among these organizations are the Department of Tourism (DOT), led by Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat; Bacolod-based Vallacar Transit Corp. (VTC), the country’s biggest land transportation company: and the Parents for Education Foundation (PAREF),
which operates schools specializing in basic education.

DOT and its industry stakeholders in the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) have committed to implement best practices in welcoming international visitors to the SEA Games.

Romulo-Puyat instructed DOT personnel to be present at all airport reception and departure activities for foreign delegates in coordination with PHISGOC. “Through the TCP, we are also now in touch with all hotels and related industries engaged in the SEA Games,” she said.

VTC has deployed 18 of its brand new Ceres buses for the exclusive use of competing teams in football, Southeast Asia’s most popular sport. Even before the formal opening of the 30th SEA Games, the men’s and women’s football tournaments have already started earlier this week at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila and the Binan City Football Stadium in Laguna, respectively.

Meanwhile, the PAREF Southridge School in Muntinlupa City has offered its artificial pitch as a training venue for the various national squads. This was confirmed by Philippine Football Federation (PFF) President Mariano Araneta and Azkals team manager Dan Palami.

According to Araneta, the local football community has chipped in to address the concerns hounding the initial stage of the regional event. Rather than dwelling on negative aspects, the PFF wants to focus on the competition and support the athletes. “There are well-meaning individuals and companies that are willing to help us make this SEA Games successful. We’re here not to criticize, but to help,” he emphasized.

Such manifestations of the Filipino “bayanihan” spirit should inspire our countrymen to work together instead of engaging in endless bickering. Our leaders must show the example by refraining from attacking each other in full view of the entire world, at least for the duration of the SEA Games.

There will be a proper time to investigate the festering issues, and that would be after the closing ceremonies a couple of weeks hence. House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has announced that he is requesting the Commission on Audit to conduct an independent special audit of funds spent by PHISGOC, of which he is the chairman.

The country’s fourth hosting of the SEA Games is a great opportunity to showcase the best that the Philippines has to offer. It’s only fitting that all Filipinos cast aside their differences to celebrate a momentous occasion exemplifying unity, teamwork, and fair play.

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