BEFORE tonight’s opening, the multi-venue setup of the Southeast Asian Games presented an interesting conundrum to SEA Games observers. The much-vaunted cauldron (the lighting of which is a venerable SEA Games tradition) is located at the sports hub of New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. The opening ceremony would be held at the Philippine Arena — almost 90 kilometers away.
“It’s the first time that the SEA Games [opening ceremony] will be held indoors,” Phisgoc chief operating officer Ramon ‘Tats’ Suzara explained to reporters last week. “But simultaneously we’re doing [the] cauldron in New Clark City live. So dalawa yan.”
Tonight, they finally unveiled how they would pull it off.
Torchbearers Manny Pacquaio and SEA Games boxing contender Nesthy Petecio lit up the New Clark City cauldron. Fireworks were then set off above the venue at Capas, Tarlac to celebrate the opening ceremony.
Both spectators and reporters in the area were not allowed to witness the cauldron lighting, which was taped for broadcast. As early as this afternoon, security and organizers locked down the premises and asked people to return the next day.
Meanwhile, at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, the end cap of the opening ceremony was the final song number of the performers. They sang the SEA Games 2019 theme song “We Win As One.”
For the TV broadcast on ABS-CBN, the two separate segments were spliced together into one rousing conclusion for the opening ceremony. A short sequence of Pacquiao, Petecio, and the fireworks were shown near the end of the "We Win As One" segment, before cutting back to the Philippine Arena to finish the event.
The opening ceremony at the Philippine Arena was produced and directed by noted playwright Floy Quintos and US-based events organizer FiveCurrents.
Both President Duterte and Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah were in the audience at the Bocaue venue. Duterte formally opened the games after the traditional march of athletes.