SENATE sports committee chair Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday led the lighting of the cauldron to signal the start of the torch run for the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games at SM Lanang in Davao City.
Go, during an interview after the event, reiterated the government’s commitment to support Filipino athletes in the upcoming games to bolster their chances of winning medals and in recognition of their hard work in bringing pride to the country through sports.
“Ang gobyerno natin ay full support po sa ating mga atleta. One team tayo! We win as one! Go for the gold,” he said.
“Suportahan na lang po natin ang ating mga atleta. Sabi ko nga kanina sila ang ating mga bida, lalo na mga probinsyano, katulad nitong mga atleta natin from Davao,” Go said, expressing his admiration for the athletes, particularly those from Davao region representing not only the country, but also their hometown.
“I’m so proud of them, at sila po ang magdadala ng ginto para sa ating bansa. We are expecting na makukuha natin ang ginto, maraming ginto and hopefully mag-qualify sila sa Tokyo Olympics at makuha natin ang ating inaasam na gold doon,” he added.
In his message during the event, Go said that the journey of the torch from Davao City to New Clark City in Tarlac is symbolic of uniting the country in support of Filipino athletes as the Philippines will host the regional sporting event for the fourth time in its long history.
“Maraming sinisimbolo ang torch na itatakbo natin mula ngayong araw dito sa Davao, patungong Cebu, patungong Manila, hanggang makarating ito sa New Clark City sa Tarlac. Ang torch run ay isang pagsalubong sa 30th Southeast Asian Games na iho-host ng ating bansa mula November 30 hanggang December 11, 2019,” he said.
Go also stressed that aside from unifying Filipinos to support the national team, the torch run calls for the closer integration and unity among countries in the Southeast Asian region, particularly in terms of sports development.
“Isa rin itong panawagan sa mas maigting na ugnayan at pagkakaisa ng mga bansang kasapi ng Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Sa pamamagitan ng palaro, nagkakaroon tayo ng pagkakataong magtipon at matulungan ang bawat isa na mailabas at malinang ang galing natin sa sports.”
As for the preparation for the Games, Go said that the country is ready to host the festivities in the coming month.
“May mga 85% ready na po tayo. At sa susunod na linggo ay iikot ang house contingent, ‘yung House committee on sports titingnan nila ‘yung mga preparasyon,” Go said, adding that he will also join the ocular inspection of the facilities where the games will be held.
“At ako, bilang chairman sa Senado ay sasama rin po ako, titingnan ko rin po, at sisiguraduhin natin na maayos ang preparasyon. At hindi lang po iyon, ang pinakaimportante po sa amin ni Pangulong Duterte, magamit po ‘yung pera ng gobyerno sa tama up to the last centavo.”
To inspire Filipino athletes to do well in the SEA Games, Go said that additional rewards and incentives may be provided by the President to the competing athletes aside from the incentives that may be given to them as provided by law.
“Mayroon talagang nakalaan na incentive in every gold na napanalunan, silver at saka sa bronze. And aside from that, nakikita nyo naman po noong nakaraang buwan, ay tinanggap po ng ating mahal na pangulo sa Malacañang mismo ‘yung mga limang nanalo ng mga ginto at silver. Additional po ito pwera sa ibinigay ng Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) sa kanila ay nagbigay po ang ating Pangulo to encourage them na talagang to boost their morale na laban lang tayo,” said Go.
Optimistic about the development of sports in the country, Go is hopeful that Filipino athletes will soon become “a force to reckon with” on the international sporting stage.
“We have so many things to look forward to in Philippine sports. There is no doubt that Filipino athletes are at par with the best in the world. Combined with the all-out support that our government is giving them, they are a force to reckon with,” the senator declared.
Go also emphasized that he recently filed Senate Bill (SB) 397 which seeks to create the National Academy of Sports for High School (NASHS), similar to Philippine National High School for the Arts and Philippine Science High School.
The NASHS is proposed to be built in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. The senator is confident that the facility will hone the Filipino youth to become more productive members of society through sports development.
“Dahil malapit ang ipapatayong paaralan sa world-class facilities, mahahasang mabuti ang galing ng mga batang atleta habang nabibigyan sila ng magandang edukasyon,” Go said stating that the NASHS will serve as the premier training center to develop the skills and talents of aspiring athletes while giving them quality high school education.
He also added that through the NASHS, “mas mabilis na nating maabot ang ating pangarap na maibalik ang pagiging sports powerhouse ng Pilipinas sa Asya.”