It has begun.
The Philippines’ 365-day preparation for the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games kickstarted on Friday night, with a countdown launch led by high-ranking officials at the Clark Bayanihan Park in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Parading a theme “We Win As One”, the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee Chairman Allan Peter Cayetano spearheaded the event along with chef de mission Monsour Del Rosario; Philippine Olympic Committee President Victorino “Ricky” Vargas; Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez; and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, in lieu of President Rodrigo Duterte.
They all joined forces to press the button and light up the giant countdown clock designed by Budji+ Royal and put up on top of the official 11-circle SEA Games logo.
It was followed by a fireworks show to officially mark the year-long countdown, before the 30th edition of the regional biennial event opens next year.
Also in attendance were diplomats and representatives from 11 participating SEA Nations, together with some Filipino athletes led by Asian Games gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz and three-time SEA Games gold medalist Nikko Huelgas, who is currently the Athletes’ Commission President.
“More than a celebration, this gathering is a display of solidarity in support of our hardworking athletes. These athletes who triumph amid trials truly embody the Filipino values of determination and heroism,” said Cayetano in the breakthrough countdown launch.
It was the first in SEAG history, as countdown is usually done only for the Asian Games.
“In all our activities for next year’s Games, we should embrace the spirit of unity. We are one and we win as one.”
A total of 56 sports will be played in next year’s SEAG, with approximately 10,000 athletes from 11 countries.
It is also the first time the Philippines is hosting the biennial sports conclave in the region since 2005, when the country last reigned as the overall champion.
Intending to make the most out of the event, the Philippines will introduce its first world class sports facility by the name of New Clark City Sports Complex in Capas, Tarlac, which will serve as the main hub of the SEA Games. It is the first major infrastructure built by the Philippine government since the formation of Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in 1934.
On that site will rise the 20,000-seater athletics stadium, which is IAAF-certified, and the 2,000-seater aquatics center, which is FINA-certified.
It also includes the first seven-building Athletes’ Village in the country.
The 30th SEAG will fire off on November 30, 2019 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.