Filipinas, mabuhay ka!
AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman (The Philippine Star) - December 2, 2019 - 12:00am

The Filipinos will show the world how resilient they are in everything. As the athletes arrived last week, the SEA Games organizing committee had some issues but the day after, the yin became the yang and we recovered. The very hospitality-driven Pinoys saved the day by turning positive and focusing on the big event. Local folks started to help. The bayanihan phenomenon was at its peak. As the saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going!” Yes, we are back on track and ready to go!

Hats off to the creative geniuses who mounted the grand opening ceremony: Palanca-award winning writer Floy Quintos, National Artist for Music and Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, a US-based, Emmy-award winning live content creator Five Currents, and Filipino companies, Video Sonic and Stage Craft International, Inc.

The all-Filipino lineup of performers led by acclaimed singers Lani Misalucha, Christian Bautista, Aicelle Santos, Jed Madela, Elmo Magalona, KZ Tandingan, Inigo Pascual, the TNT Boys, Ana Fegi, Robert Sena and international rap artist Apl d Ap was indeed a showcase of Filipino talent at its best.

The elaborately choreographed production numbers by the country’s premier folk dance company, the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group with sets and costumes made by top Filipino visual artists and designers was a powerful statement of our creativity and artistry. Hundreds of students from at least 12 different schools and colleges in Metro Manila showed precision and superb synchronization in their performances. I am sure everybody was in awe as they watched the SEA Games 2019 Opening Ceremony unfold. And to top it all 11 local beauty title holders led by Ms. Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach was truly a sight to behold.

On the preparation, Floy Quintos the Creative Director of the program said, “We used 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 made sure that the broadcast quality is world-class. We worked with a new system…every shot was time-coded. We were thinking television so every detail was captured by the cameras installed around the venue. Not to disparage our local TV cameramen who looked at everything two days before the event, but don’t usually get the whole narrative.” Quintos also mentioned that the foreign production team was meticulous about the details.

The opening ceremony was 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) served as soundtrack. The LED wall showed a bamboo forest made of Philippine traditional textiles.

Suite 2: Dangal. This is the Filipino fiesta portion that ushered the Parade of Colors. The athletes entered the venue, and took their respective positions on stage. 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach was 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 showed the Bayanihan Spirit with a duet of Minamahal Kita by Aicelle Santos and Christian Bautista as soundtrack. A Nipa Hut collapsed and the scene segued 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 were performed by his son Elmo (Man from Manila), Iñigo Pascual (Mga Kababayan Ko) and KZ Tandingan (Tayo’y Mga Pinoy).

And finally, Suite 4: Pagkakaisa. The SEA Games anthem We Win as One was performed by, Lani Misalucha, Robert Seña, Aicelle Santos, Anna Fegi, Christian Bautista, KZ Tandingan, Jed Madela, the TNT Boys, Iñigo Pascual and Elmo Magalona. By the way, Lea Salonga who recorded the theme song of SEA Games 2019 couldn’t perform on the day of the Opening Ceremony because the schedule coincided with her performance in Singapore of the stage musical hit Sweeney Todd. No, don’t listen to fake news! She did not snub the event. She respectfully apologized for her absence.

The song Manila, Manila brought the house down as the Filipino athletes entered the stage. The crowd of more than 20,000 at the Philippine Arena went wild. The dancing nun, happy security guards, waving president, clapping sultan, smiling people, singing crowd and the jubilant athletes truly embodied the spirit of the Pinoys. It was such a candid moment, a sight to behold for our foreign guests to witness. Surely, the Filipino athletes got a super boost.

 Indeed, the show presented the enduring aspects of Philippine traditional and contemporary culture. Director Floy Quintos’ aim was to show how aspects of culture reflect the energy, physical dexterity and competitive spirit of the Filipino. The opening ceremony was truly a spectacle in itself.

It’s time for the Philippines to shine. We must go all out in supporting our athletes in their games. It’s not about us. It’s about them. And for our visitors, we welcome you to our beautiful country. Let’s enjoy this experience – the cultures, the people, the games and the exchanges. Good luck and go get that gold! We win as one.

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 to 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 conquered. 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. (SEA Games 2019 theme song).

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