"LAHI ra gyod ang dula pa'g naa sa homecourt makigpatay gyod. (There's really a big difference when the games are played in turf the Filipino athletes will fight to the end like their life is at stake)."
Just a short but sweeping remarks from karatedo legend Jose Mari "Joey" Pabillore of Cagayan de Oro City after learning that his fellow Kagay-anons Francis Casey "Niño" Alcantara (lawn tennis), Carlo Paalam (boxing), and Andrea Tongco (basketball) ended up with a gold, while the pair of Happy Denuyo (Rugby Girls) and Francis Phillip Saura (men's volleyball) won a silver with their respective teams in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
"As an athlete I'm quite overwhelmed and very proud even that I'm now an Australian citizen," said the 41-year-old Pabillore, who was a gold medalist in 2001 edition of the Games then held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The 27-year-old Alcantara won SEA Games' tennis doubles in the company of Jeson Petrombon, 26, from the neighboring City of Iligan.
Northern Mindanao compatriots Christine Organiza Hallasgo (marathon) of Malaybalay City, Sarah Dequiñan (heptathlon) of Valencia City, and baseball athletes Clarence Lyle Molina Caasalan of Manolo Fortich and Ferdinand "Bong" Liguayan of Valencia City were also gold winners in the country's historic hosting of the biennial meet.
With their success, another iconic figure of karatedo sport from the City of Gold could not help but share her thoughts on it even as she's now living "for good" in the United States.
"This SEA Games is one of the most 'Bonggang-bongga (grandest)' regional meet for Southeast Asian countries the Philippines did not disappoint in hosting it and makes me even more prouder. It brings me back to the feeling with full of joy and excitement ug makatindog balahibo (hair-raising) in hoisting our national flag in front of all the expectators over the top of other South East Asian flags," said Marna of the sporting great family of the Pabillores in barangay Carmen, Cagayan de Oro.
The two-time SEA Games gold medalist Maria Marna Pabillore (Laos 2009/55 kgs and Cebu 2005/53 kgs) took the silver (Vietnam 2003-/53 kgs) and the bronze (Malaysia 2001/ 48 kgs) of every two years regional competition.
She's also a silver performer in the 2016 Doha Asian Games.
"I am so proud of our country especially the current administration for giving the best support that they could. That is A plus for me. I am pretty sure this support gives high morale to every Filipino athlete. I am happy that we are hosting SEA Games because sports is one key to keep the upcoming generations (youth) to be healthy, disciplined and productive. I love the theme 'We Win As One' because it is a very Filipino trait and and character," she added.
The Filipinos struck a total of 149 gold medals like the whirlwind finish of power puncher Eumir Felix Marcial who capped Philippines boxing's 7-gold exploit by knocking out his Vietnamese rival Manh Cuong Nguyen in just 1 minute and 49 seconds (149) in the first round.
Cagayan de Oro pride Carlo Paalam fueled the Filipinos' dominance inside the ring by shutting down Kornelis Kwangu Langu of Indonesia, 5-0 for the first gold in boxing in light flyweight category.
There followed world women's featherweight champion Nesthy Petecio, light flyweights Josie Gabuco and James Palicte and Rio de Janeiro Olympians Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez.
"Saludo ako sa nakalaban ko sa final sobrang tibay hindi natitinag. Pero iwan ko kung magtagal siya sa boksing with his open stance kumakain ng suntok," then said Suarez, arguably the best technical fighter in the Filipino roster, who eked out a unanimous decision over Thai opponent Khunatip Pidnuch.
Team Philippines delivered on Tuesday 11 more gilts to formally clinch the 30th Southeast Asian Games' overall championship described by a top local sports official as "sweet surprise," duplicating its first overall title in 2005.
It harvested a total of 383 medals: 149 golds, 116 silvers, and 118 bronzes, eclipsing the 112 gold, 85 silver and 92 bronze medals it won in the 2005 Manila meet.
"We were all hoping and praying for this, but it is still a sweet surprise now that it is actually happening. I am so proud of our athletes. All of them deserve our respect and love," said Philippine Sports Commission chairman William 'Butch' Ramirez in a statement.
Ramirez, also chef de mission of the Team Philippines, said members of the triumphant Team Philippines will go to Malacañang on December 18 to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte and to receive their incentives.
Under the Republic Act 10699, the winners of SEA Games stand to receive P300,000 for gold, P150,000 for silver and P60,000 for bronze.
The Philippine Olympic Committee earlier said it will give similar amount to the gold, silver and bronze medalists of the SEA Games.
"This is a result of all the sacrifice and hard work of everyone who pushed for chances at victory," Ramirez said.
"This victory is very sweet given the many difficulties we had to face. This win proves that we can achieve a lot when we come together united as one team," he added.