BEFORE it was ‘Miracle of 2005’; now it’s ‘Massacre of 2019’.
Winning gold medals in wild abandon in the flatlands, in the sea, and in the mountains, Team Philippines reprised what it achieved 14 years ago in its homesoil, capturing the overall championship in what will go down in the long, rich history of the Southeast Asian Games as the most lopsided ever.
As early as four days ago, the Filipino athletes have clinched the overall crown as they pulled away beyond reach in the gold medal race behind a steady, overpowering performance that saw them strike from San Juan, La Union to Tagaytay City to Metro Manila.
All the opposition could do since Day One was watch the home team celebrate in its own party.
The official coronation takes place tomorrow when the 30th edition concludes in an elaborate night of songs, dances and fireworks at the controversial New Clark City stadium in Capas, Tarlac that served as the main hub of the 12-day sporting showpiece among 11 nations.
“I am very proud of our athletes. They didn’t let us down,” said Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez, who, ironically, was also the country’s chef de mission when the Filipinos first won the title in 2005.
For the nth time, the Filipinos left the opposition to settle for the crumbs practically in all fronts on Monday and bagged 10 more golds as of 6 p.m. as they raised their collection to an eye-popping total of 120 , the most by any overall champion since 1977 when PH joined the sportsfest.
That total is expected to go higher since there’s still one full day of competitions left before the meet , marked by controversies in the days leading to its opening, bring down the curtains tomorrow as athletes and officials gather for one last time for the closing rites.
The rest of the field are too way behind with Indonesia and Vietnam tied for second spot with 65 golds, Singapore running fourth with 26, defending champion Malaysia staying in fifth with 22 and traditional powerhouse Thailand struggling in sixth with only 15.
BIG PUNCH IN BOXING
Local boxing fans got too busy standing up as the national tri-color was raised and the national anthem was sung a number of times as the boxing team did what was expected of them—win and win big.
Three boxers—light-fly Josie Gabuco, fly Roger Ladon and light-fly Carlo Paalam—triumphed in a big night in boxing where the local team is highly expected to deliver a big punch.
Gabuco reasserted her supremacy in the region by beating Endang of Indonesia via unanimous decision, winning for the fifth straight time as she established herself as the finest ever to grace the division.
Ladon scored a breakthrough gold medal win after beating Yaodam Ammarit on points while Paalam kicked off the winning spree by the Filipinos by outpointing Indonesian Kornelis Langu in a fightback from shame two years ago in Kula Lumpur.
Paalam was the lone Filipino boxer who didn’t win a medal of any color the last time.
The day’s most-talked-about winner was Lim.
It’s because she’s the daughter of PBA great Samboy Lim, who returned to the sport after resting for four years to focus on her academics at the University of the Philippines where she finished her degree in mathematics.
Her return to the game she dearly loves was worth it for Lim, who isn’t just a great karateka. She’s also great in her academics, graduating summa cum laude at the UP College of Science.
In the finals, Lim defeated Ceyco Zefanya in a hard-fought duel, 2-1, in the women’s -61 kilogram division to give her team its second gold after Junnu Tsukii triumphed in the women’s -50kg earlier last week.
“Karate has always been in my heart po, and 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines, how special is that, ‘di ba,” said Lim, drawing a lot of local sportswriters who knew she’s a good copy being a daughter of an iconic basketball player.
She was dedicating the gold to her dad, who won a gold medal in the 1985 SEA Games as member of the basketball team.
“Summa cum laude for mom, SEA Games gold for dad,” beamed Lim. To even come close to him (Samboy), to be compared to him and mom, it’s so big for me. Today is so special for me,” Lim said.
113th GOLD MEDAL
To the esports team went the honor of giving the country the record-tying 113th gold after its victory in the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang that capped a grueling climb from the lower bracket of the playoffs.
Sibol, the team’s moniker, beat Indonesia in a hotly-contested match that ended deep into the night on Sunday, 3-2, to gift first victory in this sport which made its debut in the regional games.
There was also something special to celebrate out there in the Parade Grounds inside Subic as a husband and wife tandem ended the country’s gold medal drought in the ancient sport of archery.
Displaying nerves of steel, Paul Marton and his wife, Rachelle Anne, beat the Vietnamese pair of Van Duy Nguyen and Kiew Oanh Chao by the slimmest of margins, 148-147, in the mixed team compound category.
The last time Team PH won a gold came in 2013 edition in Myanmar courtesy of the men’s compound team.
The baseball squad did its share, too, as it blasted Thailand, 15-2, in a one-sided final inside The Villages in Clark to mark the third time that the country had won the event included in the calendar of events again chiefly because the Filipinos are certain to win.
“The whole team is deserving of this gold medal,” said Philippine Amateur Baseball Association president Chito Loyzaga. “They sacrificed, prepared and trained hard for this tournamernt. We are proud of their accomplishment”.
Even the lesser-known sport of wakeboarding contributed to the country’s cause in Day 8.
Jhondi Wallace won the men’s wakeskate open, getting 70.33 points while Susan Larsson topped the women’s open with 61 points to raise the team’s haul to six golds, a big improvement from its previous showing which saw it take only one in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.
The Laus Group Convention Center in San Fenando, Pampanga became the site of the country’s blitzkrieg in the combat sport of jiu-jitsu.
Living up to her lofty billing, Merggie Ochoa defeated Le Daof Vietnam to win the women’s-45k kg title in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Carlo Pena downed Indonesian Rengga Richard in the men’s side of the same division and Dean Roxas whipped Benjamin Chia in the finals of the -85 kgs for the three wins.