Amid the glitches and controversies early on, the just-concluded 30th Southeast Asian Games will definitely go down in history as one of the best sporting shows in the region.
Feel-good stories about every event— 530 in all—in the 56-sport biennial meet were enthusiastically told and re-told by every sports fan, including the heroism of surfer Roger Casugay and the historic win of the men’s volleyball team over powerhouse Thailand in the semis round.
The playing venues that served as prime witness to 11 exciting days of athleticism and bravery from more than 5,000 athletes were another great source of pride for millions of sports-loving Filipinos.
One of them was the enchanting Miguel Romero Polo Field in Calatagan, Batangas.
Surely, Brunei will not forget this polo field since this was where it achieved its biggest sporting triumph so far after ruling polo’s 0-2 goals division at the expense of Malaysia.
Apart from winning the gold medal, Brunei royalties, including Prince Jefri Bolkiah and son Prince Bahar, Princess Azemah and Prince Mateen—children of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah—were all charmed by the world-class playing facility.
They, including Indonesia and Malaysian officials, were one in saying that the Miguel Romero Field will be hard to top in any future SEA Games since it has almost everything.
Indonesian coach Nico Curto even likened the Romero Field to the best Polo field in the world not unlike the well-loved loved Palermo Polo Field in Argentina, saying: “the Miguel Romero polo field is one of the best I have seen in the world”.
Dato Mohammad Moise, president of the Royal Malaysian Polo Association, echoed Curto’s observation, adding that they are looking forward for other tournaments at the Miguel Romero Field after being awed by its world-class facilities especially its now iconic and architectural masterpiece—the Bamboo Pavillion.
“We feel at home here because we have known Mikee (Rep. Mikee Romero) for a couple of years already. We would like to come back and play here again,” added Curto.
For Brunei National Olympic Committee head and Sultan Hassanal’s brother, Prince Sufri Bolkiah said, “winning one of Brunei two gold medals in a world-class facility such as the Miguel Romero facility will be one of the most memorable moments for the whole Bruneians.”
The facility, the ambiance and Romero’s hosting, according to Prince Mateen and Princess Azemah Bolkiah, will now be the standard for future polo events in the SEA Games.
The Philippine team settled for the bronze medal in the 0-2 goals division, but for Romero and company—Tonio Veloso, Noel Vecinal, Jam Eusebio, Santi Juban, Julian Garcia, Franchesca Eusebio and coach Anthony Garcia—the medal glitters like a gold.
“We fell short in our mission but we did our very best,” said Romero. “Good thing we received inspiring words so hopefully we can do better next time.”