By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday emphasized the importance of government support and assistance to all Filipino athletes to keep them motivated and help them excel in their future sports competitions.
During the ceremonial awarding of incentives to Filipino medalists in the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the 12th ASEAN Para Games, Marcos heaped praises on the athletes for their achievements despite the challenges they are currently facing.
Marcos said he was “a little embarrassed” to admit that the government failed to extend full support to the Filipino athletes, their coaches and trainers, and all the support groups.
“Considering the honor and the pride that you bring to the Philippines, it seems that it is not commensurate with the great service that you do to our country and to our people,” he said in a speech delivered at Malacañan Palace in Manila.
“Lagi nating sinasabi pinagmamalaki namin kayo. Totoo naman. Pinagmamalaki namin kayo. Dapat naman susuklian naman namin ang inyong ginawang sakripisyo, ang inyong dinalang dangal para sa ating mahal na Pilipinas. Kaya asahan ninyong sa administrasyon na ito, gagawin natin ang lahat para masuportahan natin at ipalabas natin ang kagalingan, ang husay ng ating atleta (We always say we are proud of you. It’s true. We are proud of you. We must reciprocate the sacrifice you made, the honor you brought for our beloved Philippines. So, expect that under this administration, we will do everything to support and bring out the excellence, the skill of our athlete),” he added.
Marcos said the Filipino athletes have proved that limitations in training are not a hindrance to showcasing their talents in international sports competitions.
Although they have limited resources, athletes continue to bring pride and honor to the country, Marcos said.
“Today, we are fortunate to welcome the latest in a long list of triumphant heroes in Philippine sports. Athletes from the Philippines have surpassed the competition and brought out the best version of themselves, becoming examples of supportive prowess for our nation and the rest of the world,” he said.
“But I think the most important thing that you demonstrated as you competed in these tournaments, in these games was to show the strength of the Filipino spirit, the grace of the Filipino character, and the passion of the Filipino heart. And that is what comes out with the results, with what you have been able to do.”
Marcos said his dream is to set a “higher standard” for Philippine sports to bring out the true talent of Filipino athletes.
More cash incentives
Top sports officials thanked President Marcos for his generosity that would boost the morale of the athletes as they prepare for bigger battles, the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China from Sept. 23 to Oct. 8 this year.
In a news release on Wednesday, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) said President Marcos was matching the nearly PHP50 million cash incentives that all of the athletes will receive under Republic Act 10699.
“President Marcos was pleased by the performance of our athletes, and we thank his generosity that would definitely boost the morale of our sports heroes,” PSC Chairman Richard Bachmann said.
Under the law, a SEA Games individual gold medal is worth PHP300,000, a silver medal worth PHP150,000 and PHP60,000 for the bronze, while ASEAN Para Games medalists receive half of this amount per medal.
“With a great deal of challenges and circumstances, this batch of national athletes managed to overcome. You have reminded this nation that our resiliency is a gift that allows us to conquer obstacles in pursuit of greatness,” Bachmann said in his welcome speech during the Palace event.
Also present in the awarding ceremony were PSC Commissioners Bong Coo, Fritz Gaston, Edward Hayco and Walter Torres, and Executive Director Paulo Tatad; Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco, Senator Francis Tolentino, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) President Michael Barredo.
Tolentino also thanked Marcos for reiterating his full support for Filipino athletes and Philippine sports in general.
“President Marcos Jr. welcoming the athletes in Malacañang and personally handing them their incentives is more than enough a strong gesture of his strong belief and confidence in our athletes,” Tolentino said. “And committing more incentives to the athletes shows that his heart and passion goes with Filipino athletes.”
Tolentino added that the President showed pure concern for the athletes by addressing not only their efforts but also the sacrifices made by their team and support group—from their coaches and trainers and more importantly, to their families.
“President Marcos’s support to the athletes goes far, wide and deep. And I was touched by the fact that our President even praised the drivers who bring our athletes to and from their training and competition venues. That’s heart,” he said.
Team Philippines won 260 medals (58 golds, 85 silvers, and 117 bronzes) from the SEA Games and a record breaking 117 medals (34 golds, 33 silvers, 50 bronzes) from the APG.
Over 900 athletes competed in the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games in Cambodia in May and June this year. (with reports from Jean Malanum/PNA)