WHAT would President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr’s sports program look like?
During the election campaign, the future president and his running mate, future vice-president Sara Duterte-Carpio declared: “Sport has proven that it is and will always be a unifying passion for Filipinos. And our UniTeam will be one with all our athletes in this cause.
Even before the campaign, the future president expressed his sadness at how young people in Mindanao suffered injuries and also suffered psychological stress from the armed conflicts that were part of their daily experience.
He saw that the solution was for young people there “to redirect their attention and actively participate in sports development, physical fitness, social and cultural programs”, noting that Mindanao is already a gold mine of stellar athletes. Olympic athletes like the country’s first gold medalist, Hidilyn Diaz, and boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam and Eumir Marcial are proof of that.
From the way he talks and acts, young Marcos seems to have a healthy and optimistic attitude towards the sport. There is a general feeling that Filipino athletes will be an important part of his government’s platform for unity and progress.
“The Philippine Olympic Committee and all of Philippine sports…have more hope now that our athletes will receive more priority and attention under the leadership of President Marcos,” said POC Chairman Rep. Abraham “Bambol “Tolentino on the day of the inauguration of the PBBM on June 30. .
A contingent of wushu, sepak takraw, jiu-jitsu, judo, kurash, shooting, rowing and gymnastics athletes and coaches were indeed part of the military civic parade during the oath taking . Passing the inaugural platform, the new president smiled, bowed, folded his hands on his chest and said “Salamat”.
Their inclusion in the parade itself speaks volumes about the new president’s relationship with the sporting community.
Sport is his legacy, after all.
From his predecessor, President Rodrigo Duterte, he inherited a sports program and feats not yet achieved by past administrations. The country’s first Olympic gold medal in weightlifting thanks to Hidilyn Diaz is an answered prayer for generations of Filipinos. The number of medals won by the Philippines at the same Tokyo Summer Olympics is the most ever recorded.
The organization of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, led by the Sports Commission of the Philippines, went smoothly and successfully, with the country emerging victorious and owning a spoils of war of 149 medals. gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze.
President Duterte has said he hopes the “golden age” of Philippine sport will continue, well beyond his tenure.
PBBM also inherited a golden sporting legacy from his own father, former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. Although martial law has caused anguish, fear, anxiety and disgust to many, the Filipino sports experienced a boom during this period. The Project: Gintong Alay – the national sports program started in Marcos’ early years, run by FM nephew Michael Keon – has produced highly successful athletes in international competitions.
Athletics stars Lydia De Vega and Isidro Del Prado picked up the honors for the country abroad. The Philippines have consistently dominated SEA Games competitions. Even sports journalism flourished, with local all-sports publications springing up and fanning the flames of Filipino sports madness.
It is now the turn of the second president of Marcos to “make the show”.
One of the areas that still needs to be strengthened is a strong grassroots sports program that will produce the country’s proud and accomplished athletes in the near and distant future. The New Clark City National Athletic Academy, established by Republic Law 11470, is already in place and is expected to produce, develop and implement high quality athletic programs, training and competitive opportunities for student-athletes.
Whoever PBBM appoints as its new sports czar is expected to continue the good stuff and add the flourishes of the new administration.