No grand performance from PH at SEA Games’ closing ceremony

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Malaysia’s contingent arrives at the opening ceremont of the Southeast Asian Games at Bukit Jalil Stadium, Kuala Lumpur. Edgar Su, Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — There will be no grand performance from the Philippines to herald its reception of hosting duties of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Instead, there will only be a simple rite during the closing ceremonies of the 29th Southeast Asian Games here in Kuala Lumpur. 

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco will receive the symbolic SEA Games Federation council flag from outgoing president HRM Yam Tunku Sri Imran, then hand it over to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who will take the lead in organizing the country’s first hosting since 2005. 

The Philippines’ chef-de-mission in Kuala Lumpur, Cynthia Carrion, lamented the cancellation of the planned performance, which would have been sponsored by the Department of Tourism (DOT).

A budget of P8.1 million was dedicated to the 10-minute program that would have gone a long way towards helping promote the Philippines, according to Carrion. 

“We prepared a tapestry of colors” and a performance from Freddie Aguilar, Carrion told ABS-CBN News on Tuesday morning, just one day before the closing ceremony at Bukit Jalil.

“It wasn’t approved by the POC, by the board. Because they said it was my contract with DOT, (but) there was no board approval. The board was all here to sign it, but they didn’t sign it,” she explained.

Instead, the P8.1-million check will be returned to the DOT.

The simple turnover ceremony, instead of a grand production, would seem to be a fitting close to what has been a historically poor performance from the Philippines in Kuala Lumpur.

Barely half of the 50 gold medals promised by national sports associations to Carrion ahead of the SEA Games have materialized with just a day left in the biennial meet.

So far, the Philippines only have 24 gold medals — way below the projected target, and still off from the 29 golds that Filipino athletes brought home from Singapore in 2015 and Myanmar in 2013.

Indeed, the Philippines is poised to go home with its fewest gold medals since the 1999 SEA Games in Brunei, when only 233 gold medals from 21 sports were at stake.

Nevertheless, the Philippines is still hoping to finish the competitions on a high note, with the squash team going for gold against Singapore on Tuesday evening, and a speed skating event still scheduled for Wednesday before the 29th SEA Games officially close.

Host nation Malaysia dominated the 29th edition of the SEA Games, with 129 gold, 84 silver, and 78 bronze medals as of Tuesday evening. 

Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia grabbed the second, third, fourth and fifth spots with 62, 58, 55, and 36 gold medals, respectively.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)



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