FROM faraway San Juan, La Union to Subic, Zambales to Tagaytay City, the Philippine tri-color flapped in the cold, strong winds.
On another day to remember for Team Philippines, the windsurfing, women’s softball, skateboarding, muay thai, women’s golf and rowing teams delivered the goods as Filipino athletes broke the 100-gold medal barrier in the 30th SEA Games that’s coming to an end.
The windsurfers ruled the waters of the western town of San Juan, winning a pair of gold medals courtesy of lifesaver Roger Casogay in the men’s longboarding category and Nilbie Blancada in the women’s class of the same event to kick off the victory binge on Day 8 of the 12-day sporting showpiece among 11 nations.
Over in Subic, Melcah Jen Caballero struck again, this time winning the lightweight women’s scull event in an amazing followup to her victory in the lightweight double sculls in partnership with close friend Joanne Delgado.
The great Blu Girls gave the host another cause for celebration, blanking Indonesia, 8-0, in a one-sided title clash inside The Villages in Subic to finish the tournament unbeaten and extend their magnificent reign to almost two decades in women’s softball.
The twinkill highly expected of the softball squads went down the drain after the Blu Boys took a 1-6 loss at the hands of Singapore and settled for the silver, which came as a shock given the Filipinos’ pedigree in the sport.
After staying in the shadows of Margielyn Didal in the past few days, Cristina Means finally made it to the gold medal column with a victory in the Park finals where she scored 11.20 to hold off Indonesia’s Nyimas Cinta (10.76).
Later in the afternoon, it was the turn of Jericho Francisco, Jr. to flash the winning smile in skateboarding competitions in cool Tagyatay City as he ruled the men’s park gold against 10 others, giving the team a total of five wins.
The muay thai and women’s golf squads ended the afternoon hostilities with something special to contribute.
Dominant as ever, the Filipino strikers won a couple of golds through Ariel Lampacan and Philip Delarmino in muay thai inside the Subic Exhibition Center in Angeles City, while the women’s crew spearheaded by pro-bound Bianca Pagdanganan won the women’s team golf event to round out the PH victors as of presstime.
Following the avalanche of victories for the day, Team PH broke the century mark in gold medals won with 101 as of 6 p.m. as it sustained its torrid charge even if the overall title was already in the bag as early as two days ago.
For the record, People’s Journal has declared the Philippines overall winner last Wednesday, well ahead of everybody.
Staying in second place—way, way off the Philippines—is Indonesia which has 64 golds, followed by Vietnam with 54, Thailand with 51, Singapore with 39 and reigning overall titlist Malaysia with 37.
Basking in the Blu Girls’ triumph was coach Randy Dizer, who said this latest achievement of the team “was the easiest, the sweetest and the biggest because we played in front of our countrymen.”
“It was just sad we didn’t make a double celebration,” Dizer added.
The 23-year-old Caballero finished with a winning time of 7:50.89, easily beating her closest rivals from Thailand and Indonesia as her sport finally made big headway in the regional sportsfest after staying in the backseat for a long time.
“I gave it my best shot because this is my final event. I dedicate this to my parents,” said Caballero, who trained for sometime in China as part of her buildup for this SEA Games.
But the gold that came like a manna from heaven was that of Casugay, the victory being the first ever for the country in the long, history of the regional sportsfest.
It didn’t come easily, though.
Racing against countryman Jay-R Esquivel, Casugay suffered a broken board early in the heat, allowing the former to pull away in points. But aboard a spare, Casugay quickly recovered and closed the heat with a win over his fellow La Union surfer.
On Sunday morning, the new toast of windsurfing had battled Indonesian Arip Nurhidayat in a rematch of their Friday ride which was postponed when the Indonesian surfing leash snapped.
Casugay had to come to the aid of a rival in distress in a heroic deed that earned prominent spot in a lot of Indonesian newspapers.