I was glued to the TV last night, as host nation and overall champion Philippines bade farewell to its Southeast Asian neighbors in the SEA Games‘ closing ceremony.
The event’s festiveness and grandeur were several notches down compared with the opening ceremony — the final parade of athletes felt lacking (too rushed, no formal announcement that the Philippines bagged the championship), and the performance of Maestro Ryan Cayabyab and the San Miguel Philharmonic Choir didn’t match its opening rites level (but that’s setting the bar too high, as they were still damn good). Hell, even the PA butted into President GMA’s formal closing of the Games! (You can, of course, find that entertaining.)
However, the event did serve its purpose, namely to ease the competitive tensions built up during the course of the biennial meet. The fireworks display was one of the best I’ve seen for the whole year, lasting for more than 20 minutes. And of course, the frenzied motions of the Ati-Atihan dancers spiced up the night.
As Channel News Asia said, “The closing ceremony was filled with an explosion of music, dance and colours only the Filipinos can provide.” That’s quite a compliment, don’t you think?
Congratulations to the Philippine athletes, organizers, and volunteers for staging a successful SEAG. They didn’t have the most abundant of resources and facilities at their disposal, but they still came through in the end. After years in the muck, the Philippines re-establishes itself as a sporting power in Southeast Asia, garnering over 25% (113) of all the gold medals at stake. (Wushu was the biggest goldmine, where we got 11 gold medals.)
Let’s hope this brief, brilliant moment inspires us to reach even greater heights. The 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar fast approaches, and even the next SEAG meet (2007) at Bangkok, Thailand. And of course, the big one — the 2008 Beijing Olympics.As our battlecry goes — Team Pilipinas, One Big Fight!
Postscript. The Philippines will also be paying host to the 2005 ASEAN Para Games, to be held on December 14-20 at Manila.
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