Other than the COVID-19 vaccine for Filipino athletes, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) looks to set in motion one significant issue which past leadership of the body overlooked for more than a century now.
POC President Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino stressed the country’s Olympic body should finally have a workplace to call home, something the organization has lacked since its establishment in 1911.
At present, the POC holds office at the Philsports Complex in Pasig, where the Department of Education is also located. Before that, it held base at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex together with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
Tolentino hopes to find a site suitable enough to typify the status of the POC.
“Mabigat mang sabihin, we’re not informal settlers, pero nakikitira lang kami sa POC the past years sa facilities ng PSC.
“Malungkot mang sabihin, baka isa sa buong mundo, o sa Asya o kaya sa ASEAN, unlike other countries, ang Pilipinas lang ang walang permanent office building ang POC,” said the POC chief in the first session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) webcast Forum for 2021 on Tuesday.
“In my term, sana ma-adhika naman natin na magkaroon ng permanent office building (ang POC). That’s one of my major dreams and agenda in my four-year term in the POC,” he continued.
The building, according to Tolentino, will house the POC office and a board room. It could also possibly contain a museum which will trace the rich history of Philippine sports and the POC, from its inception 110 years ago under the name Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation (PAAF).
Finding a perfect place to house the office is one major concern, especially with the prices of lots and areas around Metro Manila nowadays.
But given the chance, Tolentino, who is also representative of the 8th district of Cavite, would want to locate the office within the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) ground.
“Sa CCP meron pa diyan. Ano ba naman ‘yung 1,000 square meters ang ibigay ninyo. Kami na sa POC ang magpapagawa ng building diyan. May space pa doon sa Coconut Palace or sa (Manila) Film Center,” said Tolentino in the session presented by San Miguel Corp., Go For Gold, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, PACGOR, and powered by Smart and Upstream Media as official webcast partner.
“Para naman may disenteng mukha ang POC. And at the same time, awareness din sa public.”
But the best form of awareness for the public would be finally winning that elusive gold medal in this year’s Tokyo Olympics, which the POC chief believes is very achievable.
“For this year, the wish – not only for myself but for the entire POC – is that we’re praying for the first Olympic gold for the Philippines. Whether it’s the first one or more than one. Malakas ang kutob natin, tayong lahat nagdadasal na talagang blessing kung one o baka madagdagan pa,” said Tolentino, stressing that so far the four Filipinos who qualified to the Olympics, namely gymnast Caloy Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obienna, and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno, all have a very good chances of winning gold.
Tolentino said the POC can procure the needed COVID-19 vaccine for all Olympic-bound athletes if ever the government would not prioritize Filipino athletes.
“Doable, kayang-kaya. But the national government will definitely provide that for us,” he added.
At the same time, the POC chief is looking at a modest top three finish for the country in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam should the Filipino athletes come short of retaining the overall championship of the biennial meet.
Tolentino is aware neighboring ASEAN countries have begun training for the biggest sporting event in the region set Nov. 21 to Dec. 2.
“Aminin natin na medyo delay tayo sa training ng mga atleta natin. Yes, we still have the time, but yung mga katunggali natin sa ibang bansa, I think nagsimula na sila.”