BULACAN — The grandest and most lavish opening ceremony in the 30-year history of the Southeast Asian Games finally took place on Saturday at the Philippine Arena.
And the show — said to be worth millions — was a spectacle.
It was a celebration of the Filipino culture through dance and music, showcasing the country’s top recording artists from numerous generations.
Welcoming over 5,600 athletes were PHISGOC chairman Alan Peter Cayetano, POC president Bambol Tolentino, and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Despite the hardships, the trouble, and the crises during the build-up to the biennial meet, Tolentino says that it was all worth it.
“I am honored to welcome our delegates, athletes in sports, officials from eleven participating countries to the 30th Southeast Asian Games. On behalf of the Philippine Olympic Committee, I want to thank everyone who made this event possible. To our athletes, our national sports association, coaches, volunteers, and members of PHISGOC, you are now part of history,” he said.
“For more than a year, the preparation has been daunting and challenging. But all your hard work and efforts are all worth it. You have all made our country proud. Now more than ever, I’m so proud to be a Filipino. Tonight is a defining moment for the Philippines as we showcase the best we can offer.
“More than that, I can feel the strong competitive spirit of our athletes, as well as the never-say-die attitude of the Filipinos as we show the world a new phase of the Philippines. The next eleven days will be historic and full of exciting sports moments. After fourteen years, we are again hosting the SEA Games. The long wait is over,” he continued.
Though the games will be competitive in the next 11 days, Tolentino hopes that it won’t supersede the true goal of the competition — to unify the region through sports. A total of 529 events will be held during that span across 53 venues.
“With the unwavering support of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, we are now opening the best and biggest SEA Games in history. We are excited to be part of this major milestone. For most people, athletes competing in any international event should have a do-or-die attitude — not only to bring a gold to themselves, but to bring glory to their respective countries. But beyond this competition that will take place in the next few days, we also look forward to the power of sports to unify our region and people despite our diversity in culture, race, and religion,” he said.
“Sports test our endurance and determination. Sports make us stronger. And yes, sports bring us together. As a community and as a family, we stand together in the spirit of hope, unity, and love of country and experience genuine victory. With the grace and guidance of The Almighty, we win as one.”
President Duterte then formally opened the games.
“I declare open the Southeast Asian Games for the thirtieth time, celebrating the games of Southeast Asia. Mabuhay kayong lahat!”