Limpag: Hoping for a 2005 repeat

Mike T. Limpag

BACK in 2005, when we hosted the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, our country was in such a mess that there were even talks of canceling the event with months to go. Things weren’t helped when there was a leaked phone coversation involving then President GMA and stories came out in our Asean neighbors that the Games wouldn’t push through.

It’s just days to go before our next hosting--one shoved into us by former Philippine Olympic Committee president Peping Cojuangco in 2015--and it looks like we are far from ready. The P55-million cauldron was just the tip of an iceberg that could derail a smooth sailing of the SEA Games.

But I hope we will somehow push through and hold a games that will be free of international incidents.

And do you know whose job will that be? The athletes.

Despite the noise in 2005, somehow Team Philippines managed to buck the odds and win the overall title for the first time in several editions. All the problems pre-Seag were forgotten, overshadowed by the pure ecstasy of athletes’ gold medal celebration.

There was Cecil Mamiit dancing like crazy after winning the gold. The baseball team’s 11-0 thrashing of a Thailand team, who, days earlier, had insinuated that we cheated our way to the gold in some events. That victory was so sweet.

Everything was forgotten. Only the athletes and their achievements mattered.

Can we have a repeat of that in 2019? Can our athletes make up for all the shortcomings and mistakes that have come out and make their stories, the SEA Games story?

I hope so. Of course, I’m not saying that we should forget about the issue of the cauldron and whatever that has come out. I’m just hoping that after the opening ceremony, there’d would be no more foulups as hosts because whereever you sit in the political divide, it would be an embarrassment for the country as a whole.

I also hope whoever is deploying that troll army online will stop its nonsensical attacks of foreign teams who expressed disappointment. I saw a post where one blasted the Vietnam team for criticizing our hosting job and pointed out that he shouldn’t because we hosted refugees during the Vietnam war. Sanamagan.

It’s just days to go and I’m sure the athletes are more than ready to honor the flag with a performance of a lifetime.

I hope, just like in 2005, we can surprise everyone and win it all.