Criticism against SEAG organizers has nothing to do with Filipino unity

Published December 5, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin



Atty. Mel Sta. Maria
Dean Mel Sta. Maria

No Filipino will ever wish bad things to our own athletes. We will always be with them, rejoicing in their victories and empathizing with their losses. Even in sports where winning  is slim,  Filipino fans have  been inspiringly supportive. We  even give  appreciative applause to the losers after a hard-fought game. There is no fanaticism like in some parts of the world where racial slurs have been directed by some fans against the opposing athletes. There are only admiration and healthy respect for  our  favorite teams and  their adversaries.  And if some people do not know that by now, then they do not really  understand anything about Filipino fans.

Because of criticisms on certain miscues in the preparations leading to the SEAG,Philippine Olympic Committee (POC)  President Abraham Tolentino   was quoted  as saying “Magsama-sama tayo dito, para sa bansa natin to, huwag muna tayo maghilahan, after this na. Para sa bayan muna, sayang.” Some other officials even suggested that people stop making observations. It is annoying hearing these remarks. They wrongly suggest that  Filipinos are not united in supporting our own athletes just because they air legitimate comments regarding certain inadequacies, like having foreign athletes wait in the airport and getting them to the wrong hotel or preparing less than the  nutritious meal for our athletes.

The questionsare:  not “unified”about what?“Magsama-sama tayo dito” where?  “Para sa bayan muna, sayang” in what regard? Filipinos have always been unified in siding with our   athletes especially against  superior odds.  Have these officials not heard and seen  the passion exhibited by Filipino fansduring the 2014  Federation Internationale de Basketball (FIBA)  World Cup held  in Seville,  Spain? Their consistent  loud cheers for our  “Gilas-Puso” team  against taller adversaries like the  Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico teams were outstanding, catching the admiration of  100 million basketball fans around the  world. As a result,the Filipinoswon  the “Most Valuable Fans (MVF)  Best Country” award.

Observations of ordinary Filipinos  about  the SEAG facilities, accommodations, the P55 million “kaldero,”  the kind of preparation undertaken and even the appearance of  “Pami”, the mascot, have nothing to do with the Filipinos’ admiration for our own athletes, their loyalty to them and their unanimous  desire for them to achieve success. The fans’ animadversions have no connection to their undivided support for our national teams.

We  never waned in backing our   athletes even in  times when government full support is wanting  or when the bickerings of local sports officials   prejudiced  our athletes’ welfare.  Filipino fans of whatever persuasion and/or political affiliation   will  continue to watch in  stadiums and/or be glued to their television and radio  sets  rooting for our  SEAG national teams, praying that they achieve glory not only for themselves but for our beloved country, the Philippines.

How about the athletes? It is foolish to even  think that, just because critical comments against the organizers were made,  Hidilyn Diaz,  Carlos Yulo and Agatha Wong will   perform below par  in their respective  weightlifting, gymnastic and Wushu events.  As we witnessed, they  competed magnificently.  They know their  personal goals  and are fully aware of the honor they can bring to the country.

Filipino athletes and fans have been one  especially in  standing up for the Philippines.  When the games begin, nothing can break  their love for  and faithfulness to each other and to the country.

And so again I ask:  what is this “magsama-sama tayo dito” declaration all about? This “para sa bayan muna, sayang”  innuendo, and most importantly, the“huwag muna tayo maghilahan jibber-jabber?” Is criticism equal to crab mentality? Absolutely no, not with Filipino fans.

Eventually,  in the joy and the anguish  of the athletes and the fans  following every game , these  admonitions  of  “disunity” by some of our officials  will  be seen for what they truly are:   nonsensical warnings, and, to many,  a poor attempt to avoid being constructively criticized and made accountable.

In the meantime, let us continue to  zealously cheer  and unceasingly  support  all  our Filipino athletes.

And with criticisms must also come the praises. Let us  appreciate the efforts  of Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano, the organizers and the hundreds of Filipino volunteers for  making the various  SEAG events a joy to watch locally and all over Southeast Asia. The games are going on superbly. That is something all of us should be proud of.  Great job so far Speaker Cayetano.  Mabuhay ang Pilipinas.