MALACAÑANG congratulated Saturday Filipino athletes who emerged triumphant in their respective campaigns at the 28th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which are currently being held in Singapore.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the gold medals bagged by the Filipinos on Friday, June 12, must have felt kind of special as the Philippines was celebrating its 117th Independence Day.

"Isang masigabong palakpakan para sa ating mga atleta dahil despite the limitations that they face, they still stood there, and they still went to bear the flag," Valte said in an interview over the state-run Radyo ng Bayan.

First place finishes by the men's poomsae team in taekwondo and Christopher Ulboc in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase helped bring the Philippines' gold medal count to 24 on Friday.

"Congratulations sa kanila. Napakalaki pong responsibilidad… It's a very big responsibility to go out and to represent the country and they did this very well," Valte said.

The Philippines is currently ranked sixth in the overall medal standings with 24 golds, 29 silvers, and 54 bronzes for a total of 107 medals, according to the SEA Games official website.

Host country Singapore leads the competing Southeast Asian nations at present for the most number of gold medal wins (72) followed by Thailand (71), Vietnam (64), Malaysia (39), and Indonesia (35).

The Philippine contingent is composed of 472 athletes and 136 sporting officials in 35 out of 36 sporting events in this year's SEA Games. The competitions started on June 5 and will end on June 16.

Whether these athletes would make a courtesy call on President Benigno Aquino III upon their return to the country remains to be seen as Valte said she is yet to find out if a request for such has been made. (SDR/Sunnex)