The greatest takeaway from the country’s successful hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, according to Senator Pia Cayetano, was the opportunity to showcase the skill and ability of Filipino athletes to win as one – not just before their home crowd but to the entire region.
The senator was among the thousands of spectators who flocked to the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, on Wednesday night (December 11) to witness the grand closing ceremony of what has been described as the “biggest” SEA Games to date.
“I cannot be any prouder. If I was an athlete, wala na akong hihingin pa,” the former national volleyball athlete and UAAP champion said.
“I thank the volunteers, the organizers, including my brother, Alan, and his team,” Cayetano said, referring to her younger brother, House Speaker and Philippine SEA Games Organizational Committee (PHISGOC) Chair Alan Peter Cayetano.
“I think they did an amazing job. People from the audience and our guests from other countries were all telling me na pang world-class talaga,” she shared in an ambush interview on the sidelines of the event.
Cayetano stressed that the Philippines’ claiming of the overall championship was made possible by the government’s readiness to invest in sports development, particularly in building new world-class facilities in New Clark City; refurbishing old ones such as the 84-year-old Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila and the Philsports Arena in Pasig City; and showcasing other areas for sports tourism, including Subic and Clark in Central Luzon, La Union in Northern Luzon, and Biñan City and Tagaytay City in Southern Tagalog, among others.
In addition, she noted that more support was given by the government to Filipino athletes in terms of subsidies, training, exposure, and cash rewards and recognition, particularly from President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
“That’s really what we want: to give our athletes world-class facilities; show the whole world that the Philippines has arrived; and that we can elevate whatever we do to the next highest level,” she said.
Meanwhile, the senator likewise welcomed the positive feedback from the next SEA Games host, Vietnam, whose sports officials were reported to have told media that it would be a challenge for them to duplicate the quality and magnitude of this year’s hosting.
“Sabi naman ni Alan, he’s even willing to go [to Vietnam] and share whatever knowledge he has gained. Though this [hosting] was not easy, and it’s never perfect, we still won as one,” Cayetano stressed.
“Ang pananaw ni Alan dito ay magtulong-tulong tayo. Kanya-kanya tayong strength and we want to help our neighbor and friend [Vietnam] to also have a successful hosting of the 31st SEA Games in 2021,” she concluded. #
This sums up what two Filipino athletes who won gold in the ongoing Southeast Asian (SEA) Games think about the country’s newly built sports facilities in New Clark City (NCC) in Capas, Tarlac.
Olympics-bound pole vaulter EJ Obiena and long-distance runner Christine Hallasgo were all praises for the sprawling sports complex, which is hosting athletics and swimming events in the biennial games that will run until Wednesday, December 11. It will also be the venue for the closing ceremonies of what has been described as the biggest SEA Games to date.
Inside the complex sits the 14,000-meter Athletics Stadium, which has been given Class 1 Certification by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
The NCC sports complex likewise features the 2,000-seating capacity Aquatics Center, which has likewise been certified by the world aquatics governing body, Fédération Internationale De Natation (FINA) as fully compliant with global standards.
Meanwhile, athletes from the 11-nation games are also being given proper accommodations at the 2,100-bed Athletes’ Village.
“Masaya po ako na meron na po tayong [world-class sports facilities] sa Pilipinas kasi malaking tulong po siya sa aming mga atleta,” said women’s marathon gold medalist Hallasgo in a Facebook video posted by former national athlete and now Senator Pia Cayetano.
“Ang mga facilities, lalong lalo na ang [track] oval, ang standard niya ay parang sa ibang bansa. Nakaka-inspire po mag-training kapag ang mga ginagamit namin na equipment ay world-class,” she added.
Men’s pole vault gold medalist and new SEA Games record holder EJ Obiena also had great things to say about the country’s new sports facilities.
“First time ko pong makakita ng indoor track in Southeast Asia… It’s really a pride and honor to have these facilities in the country,” he said in the same video posted by Cayetano.
Obiena, who is set to represent the country in the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has had the opportunity to train with the best coaches in modern sports facilities in Europe.
When asked how well our own facilities compared with the stadiums he trained and competed in abroad, Obiena replied: “It’s world-class, like the best I’ve seen and played in in Europe. Now I can tell my friends to come and train with me!”
Cayetano, for her part, stressed the importance of sustaining government support for all Filipino athletes beyond this year’s hosting of the SEA Games.
“People forget that you are athletes 365 days a year. All-out support is really required all year round. Now, you have these training grounds available for you throughout the year,” she told Obiena and Hallasgo.
“I commit to you that I will continue to work with our decision-makers to find more ways to support our country’s athletes. Personally, that would also be a dream come true for me,” added Cayetano, who herself is a former national volleyball player.
The senator is among the authors and co-sponsors of Senate Bill No. 1086 or the ‘Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS) Act,’ which seeks to establish a national academy for sports in the country that can train talented young athletes in their respective sports while still allowing them to pursue other educational tracks.
“We need to insist that sports is a priority [and] send a strong message to decision-makers, including my fellow legislators, [to] support our athletes and put in the funding… I hope that our fellow Filipinos also rally behind this initiative because I am such a believer of sports changing lives,” Cayetano stressed. #
Take it from former national volleyball player and Senator Pia Cayetano – the Philippines made an “amazing decision” to host the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games this year as it gave national athletes the chance to shine in their own country before their fellow Filipinos.
The senator has often been seen watching the games from the audience stands, cheering for Filipino athletes in various sports competitions, including football, gymnastics, and recently, tennis, where she watched the Filipino duo of Francis Niño Alcantara and Jeson Patrombon overwhelm their Indonesian counterparts in the men’s doubles quarterfinals on Thursday.
(Note: Alcantara and Patrombon would eventually win the gold medal in the all-Filipino men’s doubles finals which pitted them against the tandem of Treat Huey and Ruben Gonzales, Jr.)
“I am really making an effort to go to as many [SEA Games events] as I can. I have known Niño [Alcantara] since he was a teenager [and when] he wasn’t even in college yet,” shared Cayetano, who once played for the national women’s volleyball team and the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons squad that won the UAAP title during the 1982-1983 season.
The senator expressed her elation over the remarkable performances of Filipino athletes during this year’s SEA Games, earning for the country a total of 155 medals as of Friday afternoon.
As a former student-athlete, Cayetano stressed the need for government to continue providing proper funding and support for the development of Philippine sports and our athletes’ training for regional and international competitions.
“These are hard-earned gold, silver, and bronze medals that our athletes were able to earn [in the SEA Games]. And I hope that the funding and support continue even in the next SEA Games that will not be held here in the Philippines,” she stressed.
Asked about her thoughts on the country’s hosting of the biggest SEA Games to date, the senator said: “The people will see for themselves that we made an amazing decision to host it here. I’d like to believe that this is a legacy that we will leave behind.”
In the Senate, Cayetano authored and co-sponsored Senate Bill No. 1086 or the ‘Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS) Act,’ which seeks to establish a national academy for sports in the country that can train talented young athletes in their respective sports while still allowing them to pursue other educational tracks. #
Sen. Pia Cayetano’s statement on gov’t funding for the 30th SEA Games
My brother Alan Peter Cayetano, who is currently the Speaker of the House, took on the job as Chair of the organizing committee of the Southeast Asian Games when he was still DFA Secretary. He did not have to, but he did it because he believed that our athletes should have a chance to shine in our own country and the SEA Games.
Last Tuesday, he voluntarily appeared before the Senate, something which any Speaker of the House has never done before. He set aside protocol because he believed it was more important to shed light on the credibility of the SEA Games preparation. Thus, his appearance as a resource person during the Senate’s deliberation of the budget of the Philippine Sports Commission in connection with the SEA Games.
He explained how the government, through the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), took on the task of building a world-class Sports Stadium that is now in New Clark City. It has a competition track oval with all the bleachers around it. Outside the stadium there is a warm-up track and inside the stadium is another short track for the final warm-up.
This Sports Stadium has been the training ground of the men’s triathlon and the national track and field team.
When we first brought the national track team there, I ran with them. Some of them were crying and saying that they never dreamed of seeing something like this ever built for them. The Rizal Memorial Stadium is 84 years old!
There is also the internationally certified Aquatics Center, with a main competition 10-lane, 50-meter pool; a 50-meter, 8-lane warm-up pool; and a dive pool.
All of these are requirements to get a Class 1 certification. This means we can now host events here for our athletes as qualifiers for the big international events.
Apart from having world-class sports facilities, the New Clark City has also been the home of our triathletes for the past months. The Athletes’ Village located in the NCC are like spartan hotels.
In the Senate, we are in the process of passing a law creating the Philippine High School for Sports that will also be housed in the New Clark City.
This entire complex is designed by Budji Royal. The cauldron, which is something other countries have also put up, is an artistic creation of National Artist Francisco Mañosa. It is cheaper than the cauldrons made by Singapore and Malaysia, the last two SEA Games hosts. In fact, as Speaker Alan mentioned, we are spending much less than these two countries did for the hosting of the events.
Also, it bears pointing out that as a responsible member of the world community, we host and participate in many international events such as the hosting of the 2015 APEC and the ASEAN’s 50th anniversary in 2017. Both cost billions of pesos. Yet it was clear to us that there were tangible and intangible benefits that our country could derive from such events.
The SEA Games will deliver as much and more. Fifty (50) years hence, our athletes and young people will continue to enjoy these facilities.
When it comes to the training budget, that is different from the construction and hosting. That is the lookout of Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the various National Sports Associations (NSA). They receive funding from the national government and PAGCOR. There are also contributions from the private sector, which is common in many countries.
As a former national athlete, I know that it is not cheap to train! Aside from training with good coaches and training facilities, our elite athletes need nutritious food supplements, strength and conditioning coaches, sports psychologists, nutritionists, physical therapists, and more! And we cannot sacrifice our athletes’ training/living needs.
I have my own issues with PSC and some NSAs on the funding of athletes’ training, but I have unceasingly pushed and intervened for athletes over the years and remain committed to doing this, including grassroots programs I’ve done throughout the years through my Gabriel’s Symphony Foundation and Pinay in Action initiatives.
As Speaker of the House, Alan also wants to spread grassroots programs and construct more sports facilities all over the country.
We will make this happen. Just like a champion is not made overnight, we will persevere and build a nation of champions.#
Co-sponsorship speech of Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Senate Bill No. 1086, establishing a Philippine High School for Sports
This is a happy day for me because I drafted and filed this bill 9 years ago. I was so much younger then and ran so much faster. But so did the presiding officer.
It is no secret that I am a believer in sports, and I believe that sports can change lives. I am proud to be a member of a Senate where majority of the members include sports in their lives:
Needless to say, Sen. Manny Pacquaio is considered as one of the greatest professional boxers of all time.
The Senate President, Philippine National Team in bowling, garnered gold several times, and currently is a golf enthusiast who still continues to win tournaments.
Our Majority Floor Leader, Migz, National Champion and 1989 World Champion. I saw the video and I wish we could play it. But please interpellate me later on so I can play that World Championship… the winning moves. I think a few kilos lighter.
And then we have our “never say die” basketball players. Sen. Joel Villanueva, a UST Growling Tigers UAAP champion 1994-1995 and Philippine national team.
And then Senator Sonny Angara, who is part of the Senate Defenders – that is the official name of our basketball team.
Sen. Bong Go, who brings serious professionalism to the games that he plays with the likes of my brother. He was part of the roster of the Muntinlupa Cagers in the Maharlika Basketball League, a pro league started by Sen. Manny Pacquiao.
Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, my batch mate in UP, we were both UP volleyball Maroons. And he was also a track and field runner – a track runner.
Next is Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, I approached him to ask for a picture. That is actually not his main sport but that is his current sport. Correct? Am I correct? But his sport as a young athlete included soccer, swimming, and taekwondo.
So again, please interpellate me so that I can put the pictures – the appropriate pictures of Sen. Recto while I am defending this bill.
And then our main sponsor, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian. That was the… I actually failed to get the full description, but the picture speaks for itself.
And yours truly, a UP Maroon and National Team Player for Volleyball as well.
Anyway, so now that I have put you all in a better mood, the sad reality we face. Mr. President, is that many of our young athletes who show talent are usually forced to choose between an education and sports. That window where they can shine as an athlete is not open for a long time. They must take advantage of that moment in time. And if they miss it, the moment is gone.
Because of that, some choose to give up schooling, others give up their sports. Those who give up schooling take a huge risk. Betting on sports alone for your future is a shot in the dark. Not everyone gets to be a Manny Pacquiao. After their moment in the lime light, without an education, they have little to fall back on.
I’d like to share another story, which is the story of many athletes today. One of my lawyers, Joei Gana-Teves – she made it to the Philippine volleyball youth team. But her teacher did not believe in sports and considered her absent every time she attended practices and threatened to fail her when she had to leave for one week to participate in the Asian youth games.
She then made a choice to go to the games and was very much impressed but at the same time saddened that other countries like Singapore and Malaysia, had a national sports high school where they were able to study and do the sport they love at the same time.
But this need not happen, Mr. President.
In countries that take sports seriously, they start at a young age. Those who show talent are given the chance to train with the best coaches and with equally talented and driven athletes. They are able to do that because they have sports centers all over the country and they have sports schools – high schools and universities. National sports schools and universities.
I had the privilege of visiting some of these sports high schools in Germany and Spain. The young athletes were able to focus on their sport but at the same time continue their studies.
Fast forward, and obviously, Senator Bong Go and I have the same source. We both have visited New Clark City. This was very early in 2018, when we did some groundbreaking. This is the initial stages of the construction.
Fast forward, not even two years later. This is the New Clark City today….
This aerial photo was actually taken from Gretchen Ho. I borrowed that from her. If you look at the main circle, that is the stadium, and the track in the middle is the main track. You will wonder, why is there another track on the upper right side. Well that is the practice track, the warm up track. That is required to have that Class 1 certification.
And, if you look at the next picture I am about to show, so this is the picture of the actual track and stadium, the next picture. Okay, the one on the right is an actual requirement also to get that Class 1 certification. It is an 80-meter indoor track where you warm up just before your event is called. So you have those two warm up tracks in addition to the main track. That is air-conditioned by the way.
I happened to visit a few weeks ago, and those are national track athletes that I was running with.
This is the swimming pool. Take note, that is an 8-lane, 50-meter pool. But that is just the warm up pool. The main pool is 10 lanes and has a bigger capacity. And then on the right side is the diving pool. So together, this is also a world-class certified aqua center, the only one in the country.
This is the dormitories, the same photo that Sen. Go showed you. We actually have the national triathlon team and the national track and field team living in these quarters now. And pretty soon, this will be the home of the Southeast Asian Games athletes who will come here to participate in December.
New Clark City is a sustainable city that will house our athletes for the SEA Games. And this is also where this sports school will be built.
It is envisioned that the students will have access to vocational, sports, and academic tracks so that each of them can still fulfill their own dreams.
Mr. President, Senate Bill 506, which I filed, is considered in this Committee Report. However, my version, Mr. President, specifically has a provision that says that the track will not be limited to sports. Because there are athletes who dream to be other things, to be more than athletes. They can be an athlete and they can have other professions as well.
Just because I am only familiar with the UP graduates, I use them as an example. Mr. President, UP has produced, among others, two summa cum laude graduates, one with a BS in Math, summa cum laude, and another one with a BS in Sports Science who went on and is currently in her third year in med school with PGH UP College of Manila. They did this while being in the varsity of UP. The BS Math major was a Judo player, and the other one was a volleyball player.
Assuming that there was a high school for sports when they were younger, it would have been really sad if we limited them to a sports program, because clearly, they had the ability and the desire to do something else as well.
And that is why we are also pushing for programs beyond sports to be offered for Senior High here. Mr. President, I call on your support dear colleagues. Let us help make these individual dreams come true and at the same time build a nation of winners.
Senator Pia S. Cayetano now sees her long-time vision for the country to have its own sports academy moving closer to reality with the near completion of the New Clark City (NCC) sports complex in Capas, Tarlac.
At a press conference held Friday at the newly built NCC Aquatics Center, Cayetano said the sprawling complex could very well host the country’s first Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS) that would train young, aspiring athletes for the national pool.
“My dream ever since is for our athletes to be housed in, not just a dorm, but a family-run residential area kung saan may mga mag-aalaga sa kanila. And within these premises are the sports facilities that they would need to train in,” shared Cayetano, a former member of the national volleyball team and principal author of Senate Bill No. 506 seeking to establish the PHSS.
“Now we have the opportunity – with the way the Sports Complex has been planned – for that to become a reality,” she added.
The NCC is a flagship project of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), which forms part of the Duterte administration’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.
Phase 1A of the NCC project involves a 40-hectare Sports Complex that will serve as the main hub of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, which the country will host this year.
The complex consists of world-class sports facilities, including an Athletics Stadium, an Aquatics Center, as well as an Athletes’ Village.
“If you have a facility where [promising] student-athletes can be students and athletes at the same time, then that’s a win-win solution for building the future for these kids. They can excel in their craft, which is sports, pero hindi pa rin nila mapapabayaan ang education nila,” she explained.
On the other hand, the senator stressed that it takes more than just investing in infrastructure to fully promote sports development among young Filipinos.
“What I feel is key here is not just the availability of the facilities, but the [overall] vision. Without the desire to see the benefit of investing in our youth or giving them this kind of facility, the right food, the right nutrition, and mentoring, our vision will not be a reality,” she stressed.
“But with a government that really believes in molding the youth, in giving them a future, then I feel it can really happen,” Cayetano added.
In his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Rodrigo Duterte said he would support the move to create a national academy for sports for high school students.#
Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Monday (July 8) filed ten more bills in the Senate to support the Duterte administration’s efforts in attaining the country’s sustainable development goals.
The returning senator said her second batch of bills reinforces her vision of helping the country meet its targets in line with the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 and the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In pursuit of Goal 3 of the SDGs, which is to ensure healthy lives and promote the wellbeing for all, Cayetano is pushing for programs to provide better healthcare services and facilities to Filipinos, particularly on reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health.
These include three bills seeking to provide one midwife in every barangay; establish specialty centers in government hospitals and medical centers; and the promotion of Folic Acid food fortification and supplementation.
Furthermore, the senator filed measures aimed at upholding the country’s commitment to Goal 13 of the SDGs, which is to implement policies towards climate change mitigation.
Among these is the bill establishing the Department of Disaster Resilience, which will become the country’s primary agency in charge of responding to disasters and mitigating its impacts.
Other pro-environmental bills filed by Cayetano include the proposed ‘Sustainable Forest Management Act,’ which provides for the conservation of the country’s forest lands and resources; and the ‘Bicycle Act of 2019,’ which proposes to recognize bicycles as an alternative and sustainable mode of transportation.
Apart from these, Cayetano is pushing for the ‘Tulong Puhunan’ bill to institutionalize nationwide microfinance programs for the development of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs). This is in line with Goal 8 of the SDGs – to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all. The measure is also inspired by the success of the Presyo Trabaho Kita (PTK) program, a brainchild of the senator’s brother, Taguig Representative Alan Cayetano, which helps provide seed capital to people’s organizations across different sectors nationwide.
“Let this be a testament of our continued commitment to achieve the collective aspirations of Filipinos, as embodied in the government’s ‘Ambisyon Natin 2040’ vision, where every family enjoys ‘Matatag, Maginhawa, at Panatag na Buhay,’” the senator stressed.
Cayetano likewise filed pro-youth and -family measures during the second week, including the Magna Carta of Student-Athletes; Increasing the Maximum Value of the Family Home; as well as an Act Instituting Absolute Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage in the Philippines.
“My objective is to keep championing the rights and welfare of every member of the family. This has been my fight ever since. Hopefully, with the help of our colleagues in Congress, our legislative action plans can help us attain our shared vision for a better country,” the senator concluded. #
Senatorial aspirant Pia S. Cayetano is urging local government officials and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) leaders to promote year-round sports programs in their respective communities, to encourage Filipino students to stay in school.
In a radio interview in the “Home of the Champions” General Santos City on Tuesday, Cayetano stressed the importance of sports in providing more opportunities for the youth to be productive and to develop their discipline.
“Having year-round sports programs for the youth can really help our kids stay and excel in school. For me, the kind of discipline that they learn from sports is beneficial to their growth and development,” she said.
The congresswoman added that sports activities are a good way to motivate young Filipinos to keep coming to school, which would in turn reduce the number of out-of-school youths and student dropouts in the country.
She then called on Filipino parents and teachers to keep encouraging their kids to harness their energy in sports and apply the same in their studies.
Cayetano was a varsity volleyball player during her college days, and was even recruited to play for the Philippine Women’s Volleyball Team. When she became a senator, she authored laws that provide benefits to young athletes, one of which is the Student-Athlete Protection Act (Republic Act 10676). Meanwhile, Cayetano also urged local officials and SK leaders to give assistance to the families of out-of-school youths in order to ensure that the kids are properly guided to continue their studies and have a better future.
“One of the most common causes of children dropping out from schools is usually problems in their homes. Kaya nananawagan ako sa mga leaders natin on the ground na tulungan ang mga pamilyang ito para matuloy sa pag-aaral ang mga anak nila and make something of their lives,” Cayetano stressed. #
LAKESHORE, TAGUIG CITY – House Deputy Speaker and sports advocate Pia S. Cayetano is encouraging young Filipinos from different provinces to volunteer and take part in the Philippines’ hosting of the 30th South East Asian (SEA) Games.
The Philippine South East Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), in cooperation with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), launched its Volunteers Program on Friday (April 11) to mobilize youth volunteers for the region’s premiere multi-sport event.
Cayetano said local communities play an important role in ensuring the success of the country’s hosting of the SEA Games from November 30 to December 10 2019.
“Once the organizing committees finalize all the venues for the games, we need each community within that area to volunteer, especially the youth,” she stressed.
“On a macro scale, the Philippines will be the host; but on a micro scale, we need to harness our local communities so that we can really win as one,” she added. The Taguig congresswoman said engaging local communities for the 30th SEA Games could also boost local tourism in their respective areas. Moreover, she said it opens opportunities to showcase what the Philippines has to offer to the region and the world, apart from being the home of talented athletes.
“There’s a lot of time for us to invite and really organize local volunteers. Regardless of your background, there is a role for you to play in this year’s SEA Games,” Cayetano said.
”On my part, I’d like to lead by example because as a former student-athlete, I know how it feels to win, to lose, to wake up early, and to put in my best efforts in making my country proud,” she added.
Cayetano, who is running for re-election in the coming Senatorial polls, played for the Philippine Women’s Volleyball Team when she was in college. At the launch of the volunteers program, Cayetano was seen interacting with volleyball stars Alyssa Valdez and Fille Cainglet Cayetano, as well as national athletes and sports personalities.
Cayetano is a known advocate of sports and the youth sector in Congress, having passed laws that give benefits to young Filipino athletes like the Student-Athletes Protection Act (Republic Act 10676). #