THE 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games is over. But the Filipino's patriotism and indomitable spirit is on its all-time high.
Becoming overall champion again in the 11-nation biennial competition was no easy feat. Yet the country's over 1,000 national athletes gave the best performance they could muster, being cheered on and prayed for by millions of their countrymen who were hungry for inspiration and hope.
Negative issues that crop up over alleged fund mismanagement by the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) to the lousy welcome greeting signage at the airport, miscommunication over a foreign team's transportation and hotel accommodation to the controversial kikiam, which by the way turned out to be chicken sausage, before the Games opened, did not dampen the Filipino athletes' spirit. They instead focused on training and gearing themselves for battles ahead.
They were moved by their President's presence, not to mention his dance moves, during the world-class opening ceremonies. His attendance in such a very special event for the country's athletes gave them the needed boost to compete in the best of their abilities since the highest ranking official of the land got their backs.
They were driven by the hundreds and thousands of Filipinos who came at the playing venues, clapping their hearts out, cheering, chanting, dancing and singing -- armed with their Philippine flaglets, donning Philippines or Pilipinas shirts, jerseys and caps. At times, they shared tears of joy and disappointment.
Filipinos cheering for Filipinos was expected.
But when Filipino netizens cheered for Timor Leste to go and win their first medal, that was extraordinary. The #TimorLeste did not only become a trending topic on Twitter and other forms of social media, it has also motivated Timor Leste delegates to also give their best in the Games.
SEA Games rookie taekwondo jin Jennifer Lay said, "It's wonderful they are cheering for Timor Leste as well as the Philippines. I think the people here are really nice and very welcoming. They make us feel comfortable and we're very happy to be here."
Timor Leste did win not just one but six medals (one silver and five bronzes).
SEA Games hero surfer Roger Casogay, meanwhile, epitomizes the true spirit of the Games when he helped Indonesian surfer Arip Nurhidayat of Indonesia who was then being swept by giant waves in San Juan, La Union after his ankle leash broke during the competition.
Casogay may have not won the gold in that particular event but he saved a life, which is far more precious than any medal. His heroic gesture has indeed made us prouder to be a Filipino.
Hoping that the high morale of Filipino athletes will continue when the country hosts the Southeast Asian Para Games in January 2020, showcasing the best and finest differently-abled athletes of the region.