By Jose Cielito Reganit

UNITY LEAGUE. Speaker Martin Romualdez receives a jacket from PTV General Manager Annalisa Puod to mark the launch of Unity League at the Midas Hotel in Pasay City on Monday (Feb. 12, 2024). Unity League is a grassroots tournament for esports that aims to produce potential national esports athletes. (PNA photo by Ben Pulta)

MANILA – Speaker Martin Romualdez on Monday vowed the full support of the House of Representatives for the development of esports in the country, as he encouraged Filipino digital gamers to showcase their skills and cement the country’s position as a dominant force in the gaming arena.

Romualdez made the commitment in his message during the launch of the Unity League and its inaugural Mobile Legends: Bang Bang nationwide tournament at the Midas Hotel in Pasay City.

“As the leader of the House of Representatives, I assure you that we are fully committed to supporting the development of esports in the country,” he said.

“We believe in the power of youth, innovation, and technology to bring about positive change. Together, let’s make history and prove that the Philippines can be a dominant force in esports, just as we have been in other sports disciplines,” he added.

Romualdez said the House will help provide funding support, through the Philippine Sports Commission, and offer a prize money of PHP2 million for the winning team, PHP1 million for the runner-up, and PHP500,000 for the third-place winner.

He also agreed to suggestions of doubling the prize money for the regional competition, which was originally pegged at PHP60,000 for first place, PHP30,000 for second place, and PHP20,000 for the third place winner.

The launch of the Unity League, he said, is a pivotal moment in the history of Philippine esports and a bold step towards recognizing and nurturing the immense talent pool in the country.

“The Philippines has a rich tradition of excellence in various sports and can extend this legacy to the digital arena through the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang nationwide tournament. By opening this platform to all local government units, we are tapping into the grassroots level, where the heart of Philippine esports beats the strongest,” Romualdez said.

He also urged the young athletes participating in the tournament to showcase their skills and be part of something bigger than themselves.

“Do not look to the Unity League as a mere competition. It is a chance to showcase your skills, to represent your communities, and to be part of something bigger than yourselves. It is an opportunity to be at the forefront of an exciting and emerging field, to potentially become national esports athletes under Team Sibol, and to contribute to our country’s success on the international stage,” Romualdez said.

The country’s esports athletes have scored significant wins in the international scene, including the gold medal the Philippine National Esports Team (Sibol) bagged in the 2023 IESF Mobile Legends: Bang Bang event held last August in Romania.

The Philippines likewise clinched the gold and silver medals at the 32nd Southeast