“Our slogan is very simple – ‘We win as one!’ Magkakasama tayo sa hirap at ginhawa. We don’t want our athletes to feel alone. We are together, we are supporting you.”
Senator Pia S. Cayetano had this message for Filipino athletes competing in the upcoming 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which the Philippines will host from November 30 to December 11.
In a media interview at the New Clark City (NCC) sports complex in Capas, Tarlac, Cayetano stressed the importance of making national athletes feel that they are fully supported by government and the Filipino people.
A member of the Philippine women’s volleyball team when she was in college, Cayetano visited over the weekend the newly built facilities of the sprawling sports complex, which would serve as the main hub for the 30th SEA Games.
The senator also got to swim at the main pool of the Aquatics Center and run at the track oval of the Athletics Stadium, together with members of the Philippine triathlon team and training pool. Both facilities meet the standards of international governing bodies, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA).
“Naging national athlete din ako, sa volleyball. Tandang-tanda ko pa, sa Rizal Stadium (in Manila) kami natutulog at gumigising around 4:30 to 5 am to run. Some of us, including myself, still have classes. So we have to have our training very early,” the senator recalled.
“The fact that we were going to represent our country, honor na ‘yun. Pero iba pa rin ang inspiration na makatakbo ka [in a world-class facility like this]. So here I am, decades after that opportunity to represent our country. When I see these facilities, I am so happy for our present generation of athletes,” she added.
Cayetano said that athletes trained in the proper environment have been proven to perform better. “Our athletes will be able to train and focus in the next few months in an inspired manner; in a way that they feel na suportado sila ng gobyerno, suportado sila ng mga Pilipino.”
The NCC is a flagship project of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA). The complex consists of internationally accredited sports facilities like the Athletics Stadium, Aquatics Center, as well as an Athletes’ Village.
The senator believes that the key to building a strong pool of athletes lies not just in providing the right facilities, but also the right vision and support.
“Without the vision, wala lahat ng sinabi ko. But with our President who really believes in molding the youth, in giving them a future, then I feel it can really happen.”
Cayetano also cited the importance of support that would come from the private sector and local communities.
“If you are in the private sector at gusto mong mag-donate ng oras at resources mo, there are so many ways to support our athletes. Even the local communities, kasama po doon. Kaya lahat ng development dito [in NCC], very involved po ang local government ng buong Central Luzon,” noted Cayetano.
“Ang importante, buhos ng support. Kasi the end-goal should not just be the SEA Games – may Asian Games pa, at may Olympics pa.”
“And I want to take this opportunity to highlight our very first Filipino athlete to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and that is no other than our pole-vaulter, EJ [Ernest John] Obiena. His feat was recently accomplished in Italy. Congratulations sa ‘yo, EJ, isa kang inspirasyon!” she concluded. #