Speech hailing PH’s Olympic medalists

Today, I join my colleagues and the entire nation in honoring our Olympic medalists: Hidilyn Diaz, who brought home the gold, Nesthy Petecio (silver), Carlo Paalam (silver), and Eumir Marcial (bronze), and for this historic record haul.

As I’ve said before, these athletes, these medalists did not get their Olympic medals by the stroke of luck. It was grueling hard work, prioritizing training, early mornings, forgetting their love lives, maybe even compromising family responsibilities. These are sacrifices that they made for over a decade to get to where they are today, to bring pride and honor to our country.

These are the struggles that they dealt with and will continue to deal with in the years to come as they continue to represent us.

As I’ve said, when they walked onto the Olympic floor, onto the stadium, that medal was already hung over their necks because of the years of practice and training and sacrifices that they have made.

Let me quickly start by commending 23-year-old Carlo Paalam, who grew up in Cagayan de Oro City, and started training in 2009 as a young boy to help his family live a better life. Salamat sa ginawa mo para sa ating bansa, ipagpatuloy mo ito, Carlo.

And then, 25-year-old Eumir Marcial, who also started boxing at a very young age, with his father as his first trainer, becoming one of Asia’s most highly regarded young boxers. Salamat sa binigay mong karangalan sa ating lahat.

And now, Mr. President, I would like to bring a women’s…a gender perspective, to my short speech. Mr. President, our Filipina athletes have come a long way. Obviously, the whole nation rejoiced when Hidilyn brought home the gold medal, the first gold medal of our country, brought home by a woman.

But let me give a little bit of history. I personally got interested when and how women started competing in the highest level because as a runner in college, I would always tune in, as a young kid, I was already tuning in to the Olympics. And when I was a varsity player in college, and a runner already, I found out that it was only in the 1984 Olympics that there was a category for (women’s marathon).

So basically, the first (women long-distance runners) joined the Olympics only in 1984. And at that time, that was shocking to me because women were running, they have been competing. But the Olympics only recognized women as serious long-distance runners in 1984.

So I decided to research about boxing and weightlifting, the sports where our women athletes also brought home the medal. And Mr. President, this is quite interesting.

When our silver medalist, 29-year-old Nesthy Petecio, made the lineup for the women’s national boxing team at 15 years old, boxing wasn’t even recognized for women in the Olympics yet. So can you imagine that? Sumubo siya, maybe knowing or not really knowing, kasi at that age, laban ka lang, pero if things did not change, there would not even be women boxers in the Olympics. Well this changed in 2012, only 9 years ago. So Nesthy Petecio is really a history in the making kasi wala pang 10 years na nagko-compete ang mga kababaihan in boxing at the highest level in the Olympics.

Now what about weightlifting? Consider this. When Hidilyn was born, weightlifting for women was not yet a sport in the Olympics. Pang-lalaki lang. You will notice that… from my research, it appears that anything that is extremely strenuous, so obviously, including long-distance running, weightlifting, and boxing – women were regarded as too frail to compete. So in the sport of weightlifting, it was only in the year 2000 that it became an Olympic sport open to women. And from what I know, Hidilyn started training when she was 10, so she was training around 2001. And that was just one year since the Olympics recognized women as weightlifters.

So it’s interesting how far we have come, how our Filipina athletes have led the way in promoting their sports at the Olympic level and bringing recognition to women athletes. Mr. President, our women athletes face a lot of obstacles. Sometimes, more than men, many times, more than men. Precisely because even at the highest level, their participation was not even recognized until lately. And as I had said in my earlier speech when we also honored the athletes, I can just imagine, even in my sport as a runner, there are questions and criticisms on how a woman would engage in that sport. What more for these athletes, who are breaking down barriers, who are cracking the glass ceiling by competing in a sport that is traditionally known to be the sports of men?

So they represent the future of women in this country, not just in sports, but in all aspects of women’s lives. I have always been a believer that men and women must work together in order for us to have a better country. And this is already a significant breakthrough, to see that 2 out of our 4 medalists are women.

And even in the lineup of our Olympians, quite a number of them are women. So I’d like to end by honoring all the athletes who represented us in the Olympics.

And before that, Mr. President, I would like to point out that I know my colleagues and I are of one view that we want to continue to support the athletes.

As we approach the budget season, let’s remember that if there was any glimmer of hope during this pandemic, if there was any light at the never-ending darkness of the COVID tunnel, it was our Olympians. We suspended the session to watch the Olympians compete, to watch them live. They brought us hope, they brought us joy for a few minutes in time, we forgot our misery of living in this time of COVID.

I hope that we remember that, their feats, the joy they brought us during the budget season. I hope that we can provide the kind of support that has been shown after the medals were brought home. I hope that we can provide this kind of funding in the budget so that these athletes can continue training and doing what they do best: bringing hope and honor to our country. God bless you. Mabuhay po kayong mga medalists natin, mabuhay po lahat ng Olympians, at pati po ang coaches and trainers.

I forgot, I need to add one more thing. Unfortunately, wala tayong Paralympics participant that brought home a medal. However, I’d like to honor their participation as well. They also need more support because it’s even harder for them, given their disabilities. And I’d like to point out, in RA 10699, which I think was authored by our Chairman of the Committee on Finance, Sen. Sonny… This is the ‘National Athletes and Coaches Benefits and Incentives Act.’ His honor accepted my amendment, which was to make the cash award that we give our Paralympic participants the same as our regularly-abled athletes. This is so important, Mr. President, because as I was going through the news, I found out that in the US, it’s the first Paralympics that they will be giving equal amount to their Paralympians. Nauna pa tayo. So once in a while, actually naman pagdating sa policy, mabilis tayo mauna. It’s really the implementation where we’re a little bit slow. So I hope the next time we honor our Olympians, may kasama na rinh Paralympians. And I hope we can get the support of our colleagues when we review the budget and literally put our money where our mouth is. Ipakita natin kung gaano natin sila kamahal, kung gaano natin nirerespeto ang propesyon nila.

Thank you again and God bless our Filipino athletes. Thank you, Mr. President. #


Nat’l Academy of Sports: Dream comes true for Filipino athletes

Statement welcoming the signing of the National Academy of Sports Act

By Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Principal author and co-sponsor, RA 11470

Ten years after I first filed the Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS) bill, it is now a law! Republic Act No. 11470, renamed as the National Academy of Sports, was signed into law by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte today.

I thank our President and all my colleagues in the Senate and House who made significant contributions to this law and for making this a reality.

I have always believed that sports can transform lives and uplift communities. As a former student-athlete and national team player for volleyball, this measure is close to my heart, and has been part of my advocacy for a decade. I remember filing my first version of this proposal back in 2010, based on an idea shared by Fr. Carmelo “Tito” Caluag. Then a member of the House of Representatives, Senator Sonny Angara also filed a similar bill in the Bigger House.

Over the years, I have visited national training centers and high schools for sports in other countries. These centers have allowed their young student-athletes to pursue their passion in sports, get the training they need, and still stay in school. We have so much talent all over the country, but for many student-athletes, it has always been a choice – to study or to train. Now they can have both!

With the enactment of this law, we are a step closer towards building a better future for millions of young Filipinos who have the potential to excel both in sports and in life. They can now receive world-class training while pursuing their academic education. The COVID-19 pandemic may have changed much of the way we live, but it will just be a matter of time that our athletes will be back training in full force.

This law will certainly open more doors for our youth, including opportunities for college scholarships and the chance to represent our country. But beyond this is the opportunity to build their character and teach them values like hard work and discipline through sports, which will prepare them for a brighter future ahead. These young athletes will bring honor to their families and hometowns, and will become our next generation of homegrown heroes!

The National Academy of Sports will be instrumental in cultivating national pride. Training with the best in the country will elevate our young athletes’ level of  performance in regional and international sports competitions. This will enable us to build on our recent victory in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. The foundation has been laid; the time has come to build a nation of winners. And we will continue to win as one! #

Senator Pia S. Cayetano trains with female members of the Philippine Heptathlon Team at the indoor track facility of the New Clark City Athletic Stadium.
Senator Pia Cayetano was one of the earliest supporters of the country’s budding national gymnastics program that produced Carlos Yulo, the most bemedalled Filipino athlete of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
With world-class pole-vaulter EJ Obiena, one of the Philippines’ gold medal hopefuls for the Tokyo Olympic games, which have been moved to July 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bukidnon’s pride heptathlete Sarah Dequinan and long-distance runner Christine Hallasgo personify the wealth of athletic potential among the Filipino youth, especially in the provinces.
The National Academy of Sports will rise at the sprawling New Clark City complex in Capas, Tarlac. File photo of Senator Pia Cayetano with triathlete John Chicano, who won the Philippines’ first gold at the 2019 SEA Games, and officials and partners of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) led by Chair Vince Dizon at the world-class New Clark City Aquatics Center.
Serving for Philippine sports then and now: Former national volleyball player-turned-lawyer-and-senator Pia Cayetano credits her sports training for her discipline and character.
Working with House and Senate colleagues at the bicameral conference committee meeting on the National Academy of Sports bill.

Pia on SEA Games triumph: ‘We won as one!’

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. #

Senator Pia S. Cayetano hugs her younger brother, House Speaker and PHISGOC Chair Alan Peter Cayetano, following the closing ceremony on Wednesday night (December 11) that capped the country’s successful staging of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

Pinoy athletes all praises for New Clark City sports facilities


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. #

SEA Games women’s marathon gold medalist Christine Hallasgo: “Masaya po ako na meron na tayong [world-class sports facilities] sa Pilipinas… malaking tulong po siya sa aming mga atleta.”
With SEA Games pole vault gold medalist EJ Obiena and his father and coach, Emerson Obiena, a former national athlete who also won medals for the Philippines in pole vault.

PH hosting of SEA Games an “amazing decision”

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.)
Francis ‘Nino’ Alcantara and Jeson Patrombon would eventually take the SEA Games gold in men’s tennis doubles.
“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 comforting members of the U-22 Azkals after the team narrowly made the semi-finals in men’s football.
At the victory ceremonies topped by Carlos Edriel Yulo, who bagged a total of 2 golds and 5 silvers in men’s gymnastics.

Pia: “We should persevere to build a nation of champions”

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.#

Senator and triathlete Pia Cayetano trains with members of the Philippine national triathlon pool at the Athletics Stadium in New Clark City.
Senator Pia Cayetano trains with members of the national heptathlon team at the indoor warm-up track of the New Clark City Athletics Stadium.


Pia: Let’s build a nation of winners!

Co-sponsorship speech of Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Senate Bill No. 1086, establishing a Philippine High School for Sports

Mr. President,

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.

Senator Manny Pacquiao is the only boxer in history to win world titles in eight different weight divisions.

The Senate President, Philippine National Team in bowling, garnered gold several times, and currently is a golf enthusiast who still continues to win tournaments.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III was a 7-time member of the Philippine bowling team. He competed twice in the World Cup and was an international gold medalist in ten pin bowling.

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. 

Senate Majority Leader Migz Zubiri was a world Arnis champion.

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.

Senator Joel Villanueva played for the UST Growling Tigers champion team and the Phllippine national basketball team.

And then Senator Sonny Angara, who is part of the Senate Defenders – that is the official name of our basketball team. 

Senator Sonny Angara plays for the Senate Defenders. The team actively competes in inter-government agency basketball tournaments, such as the UNTV Cup.

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.

A known supporter of sports in Davao City and national athletes, Senator Bong Go was part of the Muntinlupa Cagers’ roster in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).

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. 

Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan was a track athlete and volleyball player for the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons.

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. 

Young Senator Ralph Recto played football, swimming and taekwondo. His current sport: Boxing.

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. 

The principal sponsor of SBN 1086, Senator Win Gatchalian, played basketball in high school at Grace Christian School and in college at Boston University.

And yours truly, a UP Maroon and National Team Player for Volleyball as well.

Senator Pia Cayetano was part of the last UP Lady Maroons squad to win a UAAP championship. She also played for the Philippine National Women’s Volleyball Team.

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. 

Construction of New Clark City Athletics Stadium started in 2018.

Fast forward, not even two years later. This is the New Clark City today….

The New Clark City Athletic Stadium. (September 6, 2019)

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.

Thank you. #

Senator Pia Cayetano delivers her co-sponsorship speech of the bill seeking to establish a Philippine High School for Sports. She showed throwback photos of senators competing in their favorite/chosen sports – to the delight of her colleagues.

Pia sees Philippine Sports High School rising in New Clark City

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.#

We win as one: House Speaker Alan Cayetano, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) Vince Dizon, and Senator Pia Cayetano at the New Clark City Aquatics Center. The newly built facility recently got accreditation from Fédération internationale de natation (FINA), the international federation recognized by the International Olympic Committee for administering international competition in water sports.
Senator Pia S. Cayetano, who once donned the national tri-colors for volleyball, running with athletes at the brand new Athletics Stadium in New Clark City.

Second batch of bills filed to advance PH development goals

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. #