The spirit and festivity of the Southeast Asian Games returned to Tagaytay City on a cool and breezy Monday morning with athletes and sports and foreign dignitaries taking turns at celebrating the Torch Relay for Cambodia’s hosting of the Games’ 32nd edition in May.
From Cambodia’s Tourism Minister Hor Sarun to Cambodian Ambassador to the Philippines Phan Peuv, the torch was passed on to Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, who’s back as mayor of Tagaytay City, which in 2019 hosted the cycling and skateboarding competitions of the 30th SEA Games.
“We warmly welcome the SEA Games Torch which is now celebrating Cambodia’s first-time hosting of the games,” Tolentino said. “Just like in our SEA Games hosting in 2019, we value this celebration not only for sports but for peace and camaraderie in the region.”
The Torch Relay began on De los Reyes Avenue in front of the Tagaytay City BMX and Skate Park, traversed Mahogany Road and back to the same Start/Finish area via Isaac Tolentino Avenue.
Athletes in cycling, taekwondo, football, kickboxing and boxing carried the torch along with Philippine Paralymic Committee head Mike Barredo and Commissioner Walter Torres of the Philippine Sports Commission.
Chito Loyzaga, Team Philippines’ chef de mission to the Cambodia SEA Games, then carried the torch at the penultimate 14th station before the Cambodian delegation completed the ceremony to festive music provided by the Tagaytay City drum and bugle band.
The Cambodia SEA Games are set May 5 to 17 with the country fielding a slightly reduced delegation composed of 840 athletes competing in 608 events in 38 sports.
Cambodia’s motto for the Games “Live in Peace” jives with Tolentino’s outlook on the regional event.
“Everybody will be competing for medal, but that’s secondary. Building friendship among Southeast Asian nations is the primary objective of the Games,” Tolentino added.
Cambodia kicked off the Torch Relay last Wednesday at the World Heritage Site Angkor Wat in Siem Reap and passed on the flame to last year’s host Vietnam.
After the Philippines, the torch will travel to Brunei, Timor Leste, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos before returning to Cambodia on April 27.
The torch is 75 cms tall and weights slightly over one kilo. The top of the torch was designed to reflect the symbol of Romdoul, the Kingdom of Cambodia national flower and it’s plated with gold color to show that the Kingdom of Cambodia and it’s people has risen to the top.