HOW often does Juan get to see a world class event? Sometimes never. However for the SEA Games, hosting revolves among the member countries. This a chance for every Juan to be able to witness one in home soil.

I was fortunate to see the 88 Seoul Olympics and the 92 Barcelona Olympics, both games were the beginning of what became the “Spectacle” of sports. This was when sporting events became more of a marketing event to showcase a host country.

Barcelona was the best as it began to showcase sporting events with professionals participating like the Dream Team of the NBA representing USA. Eventually all other games will follow after. Countries soon began seeing this as a way for everyone to see the games.

In the recent World Cup of Basketball in China I was fortunate to be included as a member of the delegation for the Philippine Team. I sat alongside Filipino basketball legends and future Filipino stars. I see this games as a way to hopefully do one better if Juan would host someday. For basketball the Philippines will host the 2023 World Cup together with Japan and Indonesia. We lost to China earlier but a blessing too for me to see how they did it and how we can do better.

For the SEA Games I also have been fortunate to see it as a member of the Philippine delegation. To be a part of two sporting organizations. The Association of Boxing Affiliations of the Philippines or ABAP as which of course always brings home medals be it in the Olympics, the Asian Games and the SEA Games. The other is Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, where I sit as Board of Trustee and Regional Director for the Cordilleras. Be it here or abroad I get to see the games. All before China I was fortunate to see the World Cup in Seville, Spain.

For the SEA Games in Myanmar I was not able to see our boxers and basketball bring home the gold. I was held in the airport by the Thailand Immigration officers who wouldn’t believe that I am a member of the Philippine delegation. They saw me as an athlete by looks “naks” but my name not to be found. I explained that I was an official. They couldn’t believe my identity at that time. Communication was also a problem for this. It was also at this exact time when Myanmar just opened itself to the world and no visa for us Filipinos. But the Thai authorities were not aware of anything. The communications requested by them were all by fax and as they put it still doubted my identity. I was traveling alone since I had meetings to finish before leaving. Even my ID was not enough. They thought it was all fake. It happens to every Juan. Today I still get on hold in Singapore immigration for my identity they don’t believe who exactly I am. Seriously. I don’t know how an “official” looks like. Although in uniform and in rubber shoes I would think that I don’t suit up to be “official.” Maybe.

The recent SEA Games hosted by the country opened it to every Juan. Many were able to witness the various sporting events. All venues were packed. Surprisingly the gymnastics venue was like a U2 concert. Every Juan wanted to see the World Champion, a Filipino.

I was so happy to learn that colleagues from the University of Baguio all decided to come down and watch the gold event for basketball in Mall of Asia Arena. An uncle of mine went to see for himself the newly built stadium and see athletic events. No controversy found but just pride. It is not unusual for a Bautista to see the games. My Lolo would always tag us along since he was the “official” then.

There actually is no reason today for any Juan to not watch. With multiple venues every Juan can see the games. Television today is not a problem for Juan to not see any games. Every Juan has a TV today. The coverage of any sporting event is now televised, in the internet or live streaming. Even in our cellphones we get to see the games.

I’m just glad that for this SEA Games, I got to see how we can all be is one for Juan. In Malaysia they proudly use our theme “we win as one” and we won as Juan. I see this SEA Games which we just hosted to be a new benchmark for next. I will go to Vietnam and see how they do theirs but for now I see the games as the best so far.