By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino still has one item to cross off his bucket list even after the country’s successful Olympic stint in Tokyo.
“After 97 years, hindi po tayo papayag na hindi magkaroon ng permanent office ang POC,” Tolentino said when he graced Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Online Forum.
Tolentino said having a permanent office is crucial in strategizing and planning programs for athletes particularly for such elite competitions such as the Olympics.
Months prior to the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games that concluded last week, Tolentino bared that they have been holding meetings in coffee shops and restaurants.
The Tagaytay City congressman also disclosed they wrote a letter to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) last February requesting for a temporary office space for Team Philippines’ buildup for the Tokyo Olympics, but they were denied.
“Humihiram lang kami ng isang opisina to be used as a ‘war room’ before Olympics and SEAG (Vietnam Southeast Asian Games). Hindi nga libre, babayaran naman natin. After March, sinulatan tayo. Wala tayong magagawa na dineny nila,” he said.
Tolentino said it would have been a big help if they were accommodated.
“Buti na lang marunong tayong mag-sakripisyo. Kahit nagmi-meeting lang tayo sa isang coffee shop, kahit wala tayong naging war room, naging successful pa rin tayo,” he said.
Tolentino said his vision of having a permanent home for the POC goes beyond having just a venue to plan; it could also house a museum of memorabilia of the country’s participation in the Games.
“Paano tayo makakapagbigay ng inspirasyon sa mamamayan, sa atleta, kung hindi nakikita yung permanent office or building ng POC na andun yung museum. Andun yung memorabilia ni Hidilyn (Diaz), ng 2020 Olympics, yung mga nakaraang panahon na sumali tayo?” he said.
Tolentino hoped this vision would materialize during the current administration.