As Manganang gender issue is settled, Palou looks back on what could've been

Mar 17, 2021
PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

AFTER several reports from Indonesian media made its rounds online — confirming that former women's national team star Aprilia Manganang identified as an intersex male post-retirement — former LVPI secretary-general Ricky Palou looked back on the sequence of events that unfolded after the Philippine team's stint in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games.

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"That was the Singapore SEA Games. I was disappointed during that tournament. We went there, I actually filed a protest against that player. I wanted to have that player do a gender test," Palou said on Tuesday's Philippine Sportswriters Association forum.

He added that they had even paid a $500 protest fee during the said event. He claimed, however, that it was then-president Joey Romasanta who refused to dig deeper.

"I don't know why. For some reason or another, Joey Romasanta did not want to pursue the gender test. Him being the head of the delegation, he did not pursue this," he continued.

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Contacted for comment, Romasanta told SPIN Life that, contrary to what Palou had said, the LVPI raised the concern to the organizing board. However, it was already midway through the competition and the board had already approved Indonesia's roster, he added.

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Speaking during the 2015 SEA Games, the Indonesia-born Manganang told reporters that the planned protest was nothing new to her, and that it reportedly "fired her up, it gave her more spirit to play."

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The Philippines, bannered by Alyssa Valdez, Dindin Santiago, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Aby Marano, and Jia Morado only settled for fifth place during that time.

Palou said that, in his opinion, the team would have finished better if Manganang had been prohibited from playing.

"I personally feel if that person did not play, we would have made it to the semifinals. I'm not saying we could beat them, but we could [have] at least [gotten] a bronze," Palou said.

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Romasanta said that, for his part, he only wanted the best for the Philippine team.

Manganang retired in 2020 and is now part of the Indonesian military. Their gender identity was only made clear last week. The Indonesian Olympic Committee is currently deliberating on what's to be done regarding their past achievements with the national team.

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    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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