MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines will stage the golf competition on a satellite basis at the 5th Asean School Games to be hosted by Vietnam in June and the Department of Education intends to tap a major sponsor to mobilize resources for the staging of the high school tournament to involve a maximum of seven countries.
The Asean School Games is an annual event supervised by the Asean Schools Sports Council and in 2009, was transformed from a single-sport, satellite affair into an Olympic-like conclave. The countries that participate in the Games are Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines. In four stagings so far, the Philippines has claimed only a single gold medal out of 482 at stake with the basketball team of San Beda Taytay reaping the honor in Singapore in 2011. The San Beda team was composed of Francis Abarcar, Van Abatayo, Limuel Patenio, Antonio Bonsubre, Jr., Ranbill Tongco, Boden Miranda, Louis Macapayag, Mikhail Tee, Arvin Tolentino, Francis Munsayac, Daryl Nazareno and Gideon Babilonia.
The Philippines has never hosted the Asean School Games but will take its turn next year. The hosts have been Thailand in 2009, Malaysia in 2010, Singapore in 2011 and Indonesia last year. Hanoi will host this year but begged off from staging golf because of lack of facilities. There are five compulsory sports in the Games calendar – athletics, swimming, badminton, golf and pencak silat. Other sports to be played in Vietnam are basketball, volleyball, table tennis, tennis, gymnastics and sepak takraw. The sports strictly for boys are sepak takraw and pencak silat while the other sports will be for boys and girls.
DepEd Undersecretary Rizalino Rivera attended an organization meeting of the Games in Singapore last November and was asked by Vietnam if the Philippines could stage golf in this year’s competition on a satellite basis. Rivera phoned DepEd Secretary Br. Armin Luistro, FSC, long distance for clearance during the meeting and received approval to accept the invitation. ICTSI is reportedly being eyed as a major sponsor for the golf tournament with participation by the country’s junior parbusters. An initial meeting was recently held with Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines president Luigi Tabuena and DepEd officials to discuss plans for the satellite event.
The Philippines is at the bottom of the standings after four Asean School Games with a total of only 11 medals – one gold, four silvers and six bronzes. Brunei is next to last with 17 medals, eight silvers and nine bronzes. Thailand is at the top of the ladder with 171 gold of 438 total medals. Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam follow in the standings in that order.
“It’s a very challenging competition,” said Cesar Abalon, head of DepEd’s Schools Sports Events and Activities unit. “Our athletes are at a disadvantage because we send high school students who are 16 years old on the average. High school students of other countries are older and they’re often national junior athletes. Most of the athletes we send are medalists of the Palarong Pambansa.”
In 2010, Ever Bilena Cosmetics, Inc. sponsored the girls basketball team that represented the country at the Games in Malaysia. This year, the company owned by former PBL chairman Dioceldo Sy is offering to sponsor the girls basketball team to Vietnam. Sy, godfather of the Lady Bulldogs senior women’s basketball team, is also offering to provide NU scholarships to the Mythical First Five of girls basketball at the Palarong Pambansa in Dumaguete on April 21-27.
The other day, NU senior women’s basketball team manager Johnson Martinez and coach Patrick Aquino met with Abalon and his deputy Francis de la Cruz at the DepEd head office to formalize the offer of scholarships.
“We offered scholarships to the Mythical First Five of girls basketball at the Palaro in 2011,” said Martinez. “Three accepted and they are now playing with the NU senior team. One of them Gemma Miranda became the UAAP Rookie of the Year. The other two are Afril Bernardino and Janet Sison. We are hoping to revive the scholarship program and also sponsor the girls basketball team to the Asean School Games just like we did through Ever Bilena in 2010.”
Aquino said if the DepEd approves, the girls team to represent the country in Vietnam will be composed of outstanding players of the coming Palaro and other recruits from Metro Manila high schools. Martinez said Ever Bilena will study the possibility of sponsoring the girls basketball tournament in this year’s Palaro.