HANOI — Nothing but inspiring words were showered on members of Team Philippines from Filipino sports leaders on the eve of the opening ceremony of the 31st Southeast Asian Games on Wednesday.
“Let me start by a word of gratitude for all of you for trusting me another term to lead as City Mayor of Tagaytay,” said Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, who’s back as mayor of the summer getaway south of Manila after completing a full term as representative of Cavite’s eighth congressional district.
“I am bringing that victory with me, as an inspiration to our team. I am also bringing the new leadership of our country with me with a fervent hope of their support to our athletes,” added Tolentino, under whose watch as POC president saw the country convincingly dominate the Philippines 2019 SEA Games, a success that cascaded to Tokyo last year when weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz won the country’s first Olympic gold medal.
“I am now back in Vietnam to lead our contingent in another rally to boost the morale of our athletes, this time to defend our medals during the last SEA Games,” he said. “tI will be a difficult task because we don’t have the advantage of our friendly host.
“But we will be putting up a really good fight because we are now regaining our old stature as an athletic force in South East Asia.”
Tolentino added: “In my heart, I honestly see the desire of our athletes to bring home the medals. It might be because our leadership is being felt, that support to them has been pouring from the government and the stakeholders that are behind us with more enthusiasm.”
“Team Philippines, we are one and we will always be one,” he stressed.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez spoke on faith and trust over the Filipino athletes.
“This edition presented extra challenges given the pandemic,” Ramirez said. “I’m keeping my faith in the heart of our national athletes to overcome and come home victorious.”
Ramirez, whose golden touch also resulted in overall championships in the 2005 and 2019 SEA Games, went beyond winning in Vietnam.
“I hope our athletes will not only win, but will also truly experience the Games while they are there,” said Ramirez from his PSC offices in Manila. “Win medals, win friends.”
PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez has continued to inspire the athletes as chef de mission to the Games that were postponed from December last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I know that the athletes are eager to show their wares,” Fernandez said. “Their spirits are high, and I wish them good luck and always remind them to have fun.”