IN good or bad weather, Team Philippines is having fun in its own party.
On a day when the country got battered by Typhoon Tisoy, Filipino athletes continued bamboozling the opposition and moved in a strong position to win the overall championship just three days into the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
As heavy rains kept pelting outside, there was a deluge of gold medals for the host contingent inside the World Trade Center in Pasay City, Angeles University Foundation in Angeles City and at the old Rizal coliseum in Vito Cruz as the wushu and arnis teams and world champ Carlos Yulo made Day 3 something to remember.
Team PH also struck in other fronts as it raised its gold medal tally practically beyond reach of the 10 other competing nations, enough to earn a congrulatory message from Philippine Sports Commission chair and chef de mission Butch Ramirez.
“After almost three days of intense competitions, and with Team Philippines performing magnificently in the face of world-class foes, I would like to send my message of congratulations to all who fought valiantly to uphold national pride. You are all winners to us,” said Ramirez.
“We are riding on this positive wave and continue to hope that we can sustain this good performance,” he added.
As of 6 p.m. yesterday, Team PH has garnered 46 gold, 26 silver and 17 bronze medals, a proverbial mile ahead of Vietnam ( 20-26-23) and third running Malaysia (12-2-11) as it continued to regain respect after falling from grace in the last 10 years.
Dusk had fallen when Yulo sent his adoring fans erupt in jubilation inside the iconic venue as he clinched his second gold after dominating the floor exercise with 14.700 points in the final of his pet event.
So magnificent was Yulo, winner of the men’s individual all-around final on Sunday, in his performance that he made his five others rivals including defending champion and countryman Reyland Capellan appear like they were in the wrong tournament.
Veteran Divine Wally was divine as he dominated Vietnam’s Thi Chinh Nguyen in the women’s 48-kilogram division of the wushu hostilities, kicking off the five-gold medal run as the wushu bets emerged the winningest local group for the day with six golds.
Jessie Aligaga (men’s 48-kgs), Arnel Mandal (men’s 52-kgs), Francisco Solis (men’s 56-kgs), and Clemente Tabugara, Jr (men’s 65-kgs) proved too good for their respective rivals to round out the Filipino winners in wushu.
Feasting on the lowly opposition as expected, the arnis team ended its campaign by winning two more golds to finish with 12, the most by any local squad thus far in the 11-nation, 12-day sporting showpiece.
Crisamuel Delfin and Mary Alin Adequer combined poise and aggression in their respective routines to emerge triumphant in the anyo (form) non-traditional arnis competitions as the arnisadors dominated in a sport where only three or four other countries took part.
Clad in an Igorot warrior costume, Delfin wielded a pair of traditional swords and swished his way to a score of 9.87 points in an impressive routine that drew loud cheers from local fans at the Angeles University Foundation.
Talking to reporters after the triumph, Delfin, 25, said he really worked long and hard to get this victory, ending a long wait to have his favorite sport return to the SEA Games.
Like Delfin, Aldeguer wore an Igorot-inspired costume as she did her routine, finishing with 9.64 points to live up to high expectations to deliver in an event where she’s the queen in local tournaments like the Palarong Pambansa.
In a show of force in the sport which was last staged in 2005, the arnisadors won 14 of the 20 golds that went up for grabs, two more than what their coaches and officials had predicted to take.
Over at the World Trade Center, a pretty lady named Agatha Wong was wowing everyone.
Wong collected her second gold in three days, winning the women’s taolu taijian in wushu to join the long list of Filipino multiple medallists in this biennial meet that found its schedule yesterday severely affected by Typhoon Tisoy.
Performing fourth in a field of nine, the beauteous Wong garnered a score of 9.65 for her routine to move on top of the leaderboard and had to endure long, nervous moments before she could flash that winning smile.
Wong saw herself being challenged by veteran Tran Tri Minh Huyen of Vietnam and Lackkar Basma of Brunei, who took the floor later in the program. To Wong’s jubilation, both fell short, with Huyen scoring only 9.63 and Basma submitting 9.62.
“I’ve been through so much and I’m very grateful to get this opportunity,” said Wong, who only came in second in the same event two years ago in Kuala Lumpur. “I’m still trying to think if I really won.”
Over in Clark, the Cebuana Lhuillier-backed Blu Boys and Blu Girls continued their steady march towards the titles in softball where they are held in high esteem.
The Blu Boys peppered two Indonesian pitchers for 11 hits en route to a 7-3 win, its second in the men’s division. As powerful were the Blu Girls, who routed Indonesia, 11-1, for a similar 2-0 win-loss record.
Like the softball teams, the billiards squad was doing well, too.
Carlo Biado and Johann Chua kicked off their bid in the men’s 9-ball doubles competitions on a winning note, beating Malaysians Kok Jken Yung and Muhammad Almie of Malaysia, 9-2, at the start of the elimination round at the Manila Hotel Tent.
A few hours later, Jeffrey Ignacio and Warren Kiamko defeated the Malaysian pair of Darryl Soo Yew and Ibrahim Amir, 9-3, to join Biado and Chua in the winning column.
In Kuala Lumpur, the Filipinos won two golds, including one by Biado in the 9-ball singles, one silver and two bronzes.
“We struggled with our breaks early but we managed to get it done. We had a good game,” said Chua.
Team PH’s showing in other fronts was as bad as the weather.
The bowling team disappointed, with Liza del Rosario finishing only eighth in the women’s singles with only 1213 pinfalls, way, way off the gold medal winning score of 1372 by Singapore’s New Hui Fen.
The other local bets in the event—Alexis Sy (1203 pins), Bea Hernandez (1100) and Lara Posadas-Wong (1089)— landed in 11th, 17th and 19th, respectively.
Meanwhile, several sports have been postponed to a later date due to Typhoon Tisoy, according to an advisory issued by the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc).