The opening ceremonies are something to watch out for, highlighted by an awesome stage with traditional Philippine textiles as backdrop.
Let the (SEA) Games begin!
CONVERSATIONS - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - November 24, 2019 - 12:00am

Time for the Philippines to shine, never mind the dark cloud being whipped up by people who can’t wait to dampen the spirit of the sports-loving populace who may be cheering (but voices are so far not audible) for the country’s hosting of the 30th SEA Games from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.                                        

But first, let’s listen to portions of the beautiful song titled We Win As One composed by theater director Floy Quintos (lyrics) and National Artist for Music Ryan “Mr. C” Cayabyab (melody), sung by Lea Salonga in the video:

We stand today opponents

We strive to bring home pride

And yet our power when combined

Is a force to change the world

Our nations share a common dream

Our roots are old and new

Our stories joyful echoing of bonds

Forged too strong and true

Together we’re a universe

We are a future world

Yes we compete but the greatest feat is

When we win as one

We win as one unconquered

We win as one

Unbowed we share a single promise

We win as one

Yes we compete but the greatest feat is

When we win as one

The song embodies the common idealism and dream of the 11 countries participating in the games (in alphabetical order) ­— Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Timor-Leste, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam, represented by more than 7,000 athletes who will compete in 56 sporting events (athletics at the New Clark City in Tarlac, surfing in La Union, and others in Laguna and Tagaytay).

“It’s a nice song,” noted Mr. C. “We compete but when we win, we win as one. Kapag nanalo ang isa sa atin, dala na tayong lahat. Kalaban sa competition pero kapag nanalo, panalo tayong lahat.”

Mr. C and Floy (creative director) are in-charge of the grand opening ceremonies slated for Saturday, Nov. 30, at the Philippine Arena (with a capacity of 55,000) in Sta. Maria, Bulacan, together with Libby-Hyland of FiveCurrents (overall director who did the London Olympics); FiveCurrents president Scott Givens (producer); Simon Francis (TV director, one of the best broadcast directors); Nikko Rivera and Jimmy Antiporda (musical arrangers); Eloisa Matias (music producer); Eric Pineda, Mitoy Sta. Ana and Maxi Cinco (costumes); and Video Sonic and Stage Craft International, Inc. (staging).

Aside from Mr. C, two other National Artists were involved in the SEA Games preparation, Ramon Obusan (Dance) and the late Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa (Architecture) who created the cauldron (his last creation) on top of a 50-meter-tall structure in front of the New Clark City.

Said Floy, “We use Filipino talents to create the whole production. It’s a good time not only for Asia but for the world to watch our country’s creative talents. Our group makes sure that the broadcast quality is world-class. We are working with a new system…every shot is time-coded. We are thinking television so every detail will be captured by the cameras installed around the venue. Not to disparage our local TV cameramen who would take a look at everything two days before the event and say, ‘O, sige, we’ll cover it’ but they don’t usually get the whole narrative.”   

According to Floy, the foreign production team is meticulous about the details.

“For example, during the Singkil Dance, they were asking why the female dancer isn’t looking at her partner, and we informed them that it’s not proper in Islamic culture. They are very respectful of the Philippine culture. The voiceover will be done in English and Filipino. The pacing will be fast. There will be no spiels between the numbers.”

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte is expected to appear onstage with his grandchildren while Lani Misalucha is singing the Philippine National Anthem.

The opening ceremonies are composed of four suites, as follows:

• Suite 1: Ugat. It traces the sources of the country’s lakas (strength) and physicality showcased in a breathtaking Obusan-created dance production that included members of such tribes as the Bagobo and Kalinga, and Animist peoples of Mindanao and Cordillera, the Islamic peoples of Mindanao, the pre-hispanic Bisayans as well as the more popular Lowland Catholic tradition. Mr. C’s Kyrie Eleison (from the musical Misa) will serve as soundtrack. The LED Wall will show a bamboo forest made of Philippine traditional textiles.

• Suite 2: Dangal. This will be the Filipino fiesta portion that will usher the Parade of Colors. The athletes will enter the venue, go up the stage and take their respective positions. 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach will be the Philippine Team’s muse and other Philippine beauties (Miss International, Miss World, Miss Earth, et al) for the 10 other countries.

• Suite 3: Sigla. This will show the Bayanihan Spirit with a duet of Minamahal Kita by Aicelle Santos and Christian Bautista as soundtrack. A Nipa Hut will collapse and the scene will segue to the streets of Manila featuring hip-hop dancers (courtesy of Dexter Santos of the musical Ang Huling El Bimbo fame). This is a tribute to Francis Magalona whose songs will be performed by his son Elmo (Man From Manila), Iñigo Pascual (Mga Kababayan Ko) and KZ Tandingan (Tayo’y Mga Pinoy).

• Suite 4: Pagkakaisa. The SEA Games anthem We Win As One will be performed by, Lani Misalucha, Robert Seña, Aicelle Santos, Anna Fegi, Christian Bautista, KZ Tandingan, Jed Madela, the TNT Boys, Iñigo Pascual and Elmo Magalona. (Note: Lea Salonga will not be performing. She’s in Singapore for the staging of Sweeney Todd.)

To follow is the lighting of the cauldron by Manny Pacquiao, which will be beamed from the New Clark City to the Philippine Arena.

Pres. Duterte is again expected to appear to declare the games open.

(Note: Arnel Pineda and with the Black Eyed Peas will perform during the closing ceremonies on Dec. 11.)

(E-mail reactions at For more updates, photos and videos, visit or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.)



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