Nothing is new, really, Palawan. As expected, the 2018 Asiad Games was dominated by regional powerhouse China. As of this writing, The Great Wall leads the pack with 127 gold medals setting the pace by a wide margin against its nearest and cross-sea rival Japan which is good for 72 gold goodies. At a distant third, is South Korea with 48 gold medals to date.
What sets these traditional powerhouses apart? Their sports programs are oiled up by science and discipline, starting the selection process of athletes right from the formative years. The farming of athletes starts young, to the point of even housing teenaged athletes away from the general population to monitor their training and nutrition. To cut a long story short, they never run out of world beaters because of the system that they put in place.
Discipline will never be compromised such as the case when Japan suspended 4 of their national basketball players who violated team policy by partying in the streets of Jakarta. They played the rest of the tournament with only eight players in the line up. Our programs need to mirror the same stringent policies and system that the Asian powers have enabled if we want to realize our dream to excel in the world of sports.
All was not lost in our country’s Asiad stint. Gold medal favorite weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz did not disappoint by winning the country’s first gold medal in this year’s edition. A testimony that her triumphs in previous international tournaments were no fluke. Golf and Skateboarding yielded golds as well. Two gold medals from golf care of LK Go, Bianca Pagdanganan and Yuka Saso proved to be the highest yield of our country on any sports discipline this year. Margielyn Didal also scored gold in a relatively new event in skateboarding.
Speaking of girl power, my daughter, a varsity high school swimmer representing Miriam College high school participated in the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (WNCAA). A testimony that our girls are poised to make a stamp in the sporting world in years to come.
Team Sports in the Asiad
The more popular team sports such as basketball and volleyball didn’t fair well, but the Gilas basketball team was good enough to finish 5th, a better placing from last Asiad’s performance. Corporate backing helped basketball and volleyball but it takes a little bit more cooperation from local sporting bodies to ensure only the best athletes represent us in international events. The PBA, for example, should not restrict player participation to one selection per team. Personally, when it comes to national pride, it’s in the country’s best interest to field the best players we can offer to give us a chance to land a podium finish.
The new PPUR Festival
Lastly, and not related to sports, on a cultural note… Palawan, let us all prepare ourselves for this year’s bigger and better Puerto Princesa Underground River Festival Foundation, which will be known hereon as “Araw ng Subaraw,” an annual event that will be recognized nationally and globally week-long festivity culminating on the actual day of the celebration on November 11, 2018 highlighted by a bio-diversity themed grand parade and street dance that, we assure you, will match similar well known national events and festivals. Kudos to Honorable Mayor Lucilo Bayron, the Puerto Princesa Underground River Administration, the PPUR Festival Foundation and all private and public partnerships that contributed to make our very own festival a bigger, grander spectacle. So spread the word, Palawan. Mark the week of November 3-11, 2018!
(The writer is a senior leader of the only Business Process Outsourcing company in Puerto Princesa. He also is the current Puerto Princesa Underground River Festival Foundation President. Watch out for this year’s, bigger and grander festivities promoting bio-diversity and our heritage sites)