For the very artsy people, the official logo of this year’s SEA Games is unforgivably a “cringe”, “uncreative” and an “eyesore.” In the end, would this be memorable or be forgettable?
AS the preliminary competitions of few sporting events in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games are underway, tomorrow (November 30) will showcase the greatest spectacle of sports in the region after 14 years.
The last time we hosted back in 2005, social media wasn’t penetrated into the market and smartphones didn’t exist yet. Today, mobile Internet access has expanded either to catch up the action in real-time or to notify if the athletes are qualified for the next round.
In that gap of time, venues like the Mall of Asia Arena and the Philippine Arena have been erected and are ready for use to showcase sports. Also, ambitious plans were aggressively concreted, particularly in the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.
Before we go further behind the scenes with the present edition, let’s recap the moments when we previously hosted the biennial regional multi-sport meet.
Past Hostings at a Glance
1981 (11th Edition)
- DATES: December 6 to 15
- NUMBER OF SPORTS: 18
- PHILIPPINES’ OVERALL RANKING: 3rd of 7
- BROADCASTERS: Maharlika Broadcasting System and Banahaw Broadcasting Corporation
Martial law has already been lifted in the early part of that year but President Marcos remained in power as he was re-elected and the media remained restricted.
In that edition, their then-new infrastructure was built in Pasig called the University of Life Track & Field and Arena or simply called ULTRA (now PhilSports Arena).
In the sporting proper, Lydia de Vega wowed the country with two gold medals in 200 and 400-meter sprints, earning the nickname “Asia’s Sprint Queen.” Bong Coo emerged in the spotlight as the top tenpin bowler with six medals (four of which is gold).
1991 (16th Edition)
- DATES: November 24 to December 3
- NUMBER OF SPORTS: 28
- PHILIPPINES’ OVERALL RANKING: 2nd of 9
- BROADCASTERS: People’s Television Network (PTV), ABS-CBN, IBC and RPN
While the host city was in Metro Manila, four sports (archery, canoeing, sailing and triathlon) were held in Subic Bay. At that time, Subic was packing up after the decision of the renewal of the US naval base was rejected by the Senate two months prior.
This edition was the only edition where the overall championship was heavily contested; the deciding medal came from the last sporting event — the women’s triathlon — where Indonesia got the gold medal.
Athletes associated with the said edition include Eric Buhain, Akiko Thompson (swimming) and Bea Lucero (gymnast turned taekwondoka). Lydia de Vega redeemed her title as the “Asia’s Fastest Woman” and Elma Muros was celebrated for the long jump. Our men’s basketball team regained the cage supremacy by defeating Thailand in the finals.
2005 (23rd Edition)
Most readers were alive and remembered when we hosted the last time.
- DATES: November 27 to December 5
- NUMBER OF SPORTS: 40
- PHILIPPINES’ OVERALL RANKING: 1st of 11
- BROADCASTERS: National Broadcasting Network (NBN), ABC and IBC
This was the first SEA Games that some events took place outside Luzon and first that both ceremonies were not staged in a stadium — they were staged in Quirino Grandstand.
While the official hymn was “We’re All Just One,” Rivermaya’s “Posible” will forever be associated as the popular song of this Games.
This was the edition where basketball, our national pastime, was not held due to the suspension by FIBA to compete internationally. Nevertheless, this was the first time that we became an overall champion.
In this edition
There are 530 events in 56 sports taking place for this 12-day affair (not counting the days before the opening ceremony) across Luzon.
For the first time, the bookend ceremonies will take place separately; tomorrow, they will open at the Philippine Arena but they will close in their ambitious New Clark City Athletics Stadium on December 11.
The theme of this edition is “We Win as One,” with its corresponding theme song performed by Lea Salonga:
While Pittsburgh-based NEP Group will produce these sports events but there are local broadcasters that will supply the coverage.
Initially, TV5 and ABS-CBN are potential candidates.
For the former, it was a no-brainer since they have significant sportscasting experience placed in their dossier before the organizing committee despite criticisms of putting commercials during the ceremonies (you can watch them sans interruption through their YouTube Livestream). With their broadcast franchise safe for another 25 years, hence, they became the official media partner. Cignal TV has allocated three channels for this one-off event, in addition to One Sports.
Regarding the latter, it was initially screened due to their technological advancements but its franchise will expire in four months and Congress has not prioritized it. Also, their main channel’s biggest concern is that their schedule is completely committed to competition shows (the opening ceremony is a Saturday) and teleseryes (closing ceremony falls on a Wednesday) but they have S+A and Liga to the rescue.
CONFIRMED: By secret agreement, the OC will be carried live on ABS-CBN (pre-empting any shows that follow) and iWant with S+A catching up in delay by 15 minutes. TV5 will be delayed by an hour and a half — harmonizing with the rest of the Cignal channels.
PTV almost left out
By intuition from history, PTV must be there to cover this biennial regional sports meet. This is the usual trend for other Southeast Asian nations. In the last iteration in Kuala Lumpur in 2017, we have done so but under last-minute pressure by then-Philippine Olympic Committee President Peping Cojuangco.
Because of the initial screening, the state broadcaster was almost left out causing concern for Senator Francis Tolentino during the 2020 budget deliberations on the Presidential Communications Operations Office last September 26.
There is a valid, consensual justification to include this state TV network: President Rodrigo Duterte is required to be present — as it is a traditional protocol for a head of state — and to simply read the opening formula (i.e. no alibis and no cussing) after the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee’s (PHISGOC) chair, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, delivered their welcoming remarks.
Who’s taking the slice?
Per common reports, at least 11 events will be carried live: aquatics (diving and swimming), athletics, badminton, basketball (5×5 and 3×3), boxing, football, gymnastics, sepak takraw, taekwondo, indoor volleyball, and E-sports.
As per individual media entities, ABS-CBN is said to cover exclusively on volleyball and soccer while ESPN5 will supply the rest, with emphasis on basketball (on the main channel), eSports (certainly on 5Plus) and aquatics.
On the other hand, PTV is reportedly taking care of skateboarding and BMX (cycling); although they will cover random sporting events that are not exclusive to private entities.
The rest of the sporting action will be covered through the Facebook live streams, on YouTube channel of ESPN5 and in iWant.
Of course, there will be always highlights throughout each progressing day, regardless if they are media partners or not.
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Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC)