THE Philippines is bound to host the biggest Southeast Asian Games yet in terms of sports and events in 2019 but the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) has a bigger goal to accomplish.
“We want to host the most unforgettable SEA Games,” Ramon Suzara, Phisgoc’s executive director, stressed.
For starters, the opening ceremony goes out of tradition by holding a glitzy opening ceremony on November 30 at the 60,000-seat Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
“Going indoors is a first in the SEA Games but what’s important is that the opening ceremony would be very unique,” Suzara added, saying the event would go digital, a first in the biennial Games that has 11 member-countries including the Philippines.
As a surprise, the Phisgoc is contracting a Filipino-American singing sensation who has waxed countless pop hits. “But his identity remains a secret at the moment,” Suzara said.
“Let’s just say that the opening ceremony will be hip and festive, just like the half time of the Super Bowl,” added Suzara, who bared that the international group that handled the opening ceremonies of the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 and the Jakarta 2018 Asian Games were tapped for the Philippine Games.
The Games will run for 12 days from the original 11 days and will hold the closing ceremony on December 11 at the Athletics Stadium at the New Clark City which is being built by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority under Vince Dizon.
There are 56 sports and these were ratified by Technical Delegates from the international and continental federations during their first official meeting on Thursday at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.
The total number of gold medals are pegged at 521 with three demonstration events—one in newbie eSports that has yet to be announced and two in chess called problem solving.
There will be six competition hubs for the Games the country is hosting for the third time after 1991 and 2005. These are Clark (21 sports and 11 venues), Subic (14 sports and eight venues), Metro Manila (20 sports and 15 venues), Tagaytay City (cycling and skateboarding), Calatagan (polo) and San Juan in La Union (surfing).
Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, who heads the Sports Department whose onerous responsibility is to determine the sports and events for the Games programs, said preparations are well under way and that Thursday’s Technical Delegates Meeting was proof of the enthusiastic response to the country’s hosting.
One technical delegate, in fact, likened preparations by the Phisgoc to the Asian Games—the delegates were flown in via business class aboard Philippine Airlines, the first from the private sector to hook up with the games as a Gold sponsor that is worth $2 million (Platinum sponsorship of worth $3 million and silver $500,000).
“Everything is under control,” said Patrick Gregorio, the Philippine Olympic Committee secretary-general and director general of the Phisgoc.