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"There can be no price tag for Filipino pride, and the opening ceremonies proved it."


Dazzling is perhaps the best way to describe the opening ceremonies of the 30th Southeast Asian Games held last Sunday at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

One would have to forgive the organizers for such an extravaganza that lifted the national spirit and re-kindled pride of race and place, given the criticisms of the past days from people both well-meaning and mean.

There can be no price tag for Filipino pride, and the opening ceremonies proved it.

Still I thought the use of “Manila,” that famous Hotdog band signature song for the entire long march of the Philippine contingent would have been more appropriate if it was conjoined into a medley with other non-English and non-Tagalog songs. When the march started with “Manila,” I half-guessed that the musical director would segue into other recognizable Pinoy music.

The melody of Pamulinawen could have been rearranged to match the beat of Manila as opening song (that would have made Ilocanos happy, even Bong-bong); “Dandansoy,” which is originally a melancholy tune could have likewise been recrafted into a bouncy tune (which would be familiar to Senator Frank Drilon’s ears); why even “Sarung Bangui” to purse a smile into VP Leni’s lips, after what she has gone through in the past weeks.

And then as finale, how about Yoyoy Villame’s “Magellan?” Bisaya kaayo.

But then again, that would have been a reminder to Speaker Alan, the Phisgoc chair, about 1521, the year the Spanish came to our shores, only to have their chieftain, Hernando de Magalhaes, or Magellan to us all, slain by our original hero, Lapu-lapu of Mactan.

But would Alan have disapproved, because 15-21 is something he’d rather not put to mind? I’m sure the sportsman in Alan would have approved.

But then again I am not a musician, not in any way. I do love the music of the Hotdog, which is the beat and mixed patois of my generation, so how am I to judge musical artistry?

I speak only of political correctness for a nation of tribes—the Ilokano, the Bisaya, the Bikol, the Ilonggo, the Tagalog and even the different tribes of our Muslim brothers and the indigenous people.

But that’s probably Monday morning quarter-backing, and deemed as reacting to Mayor Inday Sara’s reaction to “Manila” nga wala’y Bisaya.

Still, while having the same goosebumps as Senator Ping Lacson tweeted when our athletes came marching in, I really thought “Manila” could have been medleyed with other lilting songs considering how long the march of our contingent was.

“Manila” may have made Yorme Isko happy, he with his mantra of “where Manila goes, the nation follows.” But obviously, President Digong did not mind, as he was carried away by the beat and the tune, and was seen swaying and clapping along.

Still and all, our congratulations to Speaker Alan, POC Chair Bambol Tolentino and PSC Chair Butch Ramirez. It was a great show. It was well worth the cost. It made us all proud.

* * *

Which brings me to the New Clark City sports stadium and aquatic center, which I saw sometime in July when the facilities were about 80 percent finished, along with senators Lacson and Honasan (before he was minted as DICT secretary). We were all impressed not only at the edifices but likewise the speed with which the projects were implemented, courtesy of our good friend Vince Dizon, the BCDA president and CEO.

I felt sad when brickbats were thrown at the project and the processes by which such monumental edifices were accomplished at such atypical speed. Indeed, atypical in a country where bureaucratic procedures almost always delay implementing good projects.

I know Vince Dizon does not deserve the brickbats; he deserves commendation. In time the people will thank him for what he has achieved.

For the world-class facilities are not mere “trophy” projects for President Duterte to be remembered by. They are part of a more ambitious endeavor…that of creating a new city where in the not-too-distant future the national government should be relocated. 

And world-class sports facilities along with a grand river park would be needed in a “green” and environmentally-balanced city. What Vince began is only part of the shared vision of a well-planned city that would make us all proud, and would constitute a great part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s legacy.

When Gustave Eiffel built the Tour d’Eiffel for the 1899 World Fair at the Champ de Mars in Paris, he was roundly criticized even by the artistic community for a “steel monstrosity.” Parliamentarians decried the cost of the tower as well.

I need not say more. What is Paris without the “monstrosity” that was eventually named after its creator?

Mañosa’s cauldron will never be a symbol of either country or Clark, and Dizon’s quickly-built sports and housing facilities, while world-class, cannot be compared to the landmark that the Eiffel Tower has become, but when the New Clark City is completed, along with its “green-ness” and balanced eco-system, the Filipino people will say “wow!” with concomitant pride.

Then the “trophy” project will be trophy no more, but, in the words of a former president, Diosdado P. Macapagal, a true “stone for the edifice” that is building a nation for the future.

Topics: Lito Banayo , Trophy , 30th Southeast Asian Games , SEA Games , SEAG , Mayor Sara Duterte , New Clark City , Phisgoc chairman Alan Peter Cayetano
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