NEW CLARK CITY – The 30th Southeast Asian Games came to a close on Wednesday night with a grand party complete with fireworks, celebrating the host’s return to supremacy in the region’s biggest sporting spectacle.
The New Clark City Stadium rocked as a crowd of 15,000 were on hand to witness Team Philippines officially hailed as the overall champion of what would go down as the biggest and richest hosting ever of the biennial meet.
Two weeks of intense competitions had the host living up to this SEA Games’ slogan of ‘winning as one,’ netting a record number of 149 gold medals, 117 silvers, and 121 bronzes in 56 sports.
Team Philippines chef de mission William ‘Butch’ Ramirez along with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, representing President Duterte, and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino celebrated with the rest of the Filipino contingent after the country regained the overall title it last won 14 years ago.
“All your hard work and achievement produced more than just medals,” Ramirez, also the chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), said in a statement. “It lifted the spirit of a nation hungry for inspiration and hope. It awakened the spirit of patriotism.”
Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) head Allan Peter Cayetano later lauded the entire Filipino people for making the hosting — to the tune of P6 billion — a success despite the many controversies that plagued it along the way.
“This year, Christmas has come early. We Southeast Asians, we Filipinos have shown the world that we can do it. At hindi lang natin kaya, we did it with world-class quality,” he said in his closing speech.
“We also celebrate with all the athletes. Each and every athlete, thank you for coming to the Philippines. Thank you for your sportsmanship. Coaches, trainers, athletes, thank you.”
The grand show that ran for two hours, indeed, had a touch of world class.
Journey vocalist Arnel Pineda opened the lively program with a medley of rock songs before Grammy award-winning group Black Eyed Peas closed the party with a mini-concert that had the crowd on its feet.
The American hip hop group brought the party with a rousing set of "Let's Get It Started," "Boom Boom Pow," "RITMO (Bad Boys For Life)," "Pump It," "Just Can't Get Enough," "Bebot," "The APL Song," "The Time," and "Where Is The Love?"
The newest member of the group, Filipina singer Jessica Reynoso, who now goes by the name J Reysoul, filled in the Fergie parts of the group's hit parade.
Gold medal winning surfer Roger Casugay stood as flag bearer and led the way for the newly crowned champions during the final march past of the 11-nation members.
Also serving as one of the program’s highlights was the formal turnover of the SEA Games flag to next host Vietnam, which will stage the meet in Hanoi from November 21 to December 2, 2021.
Colorful fireworks lighted the skies of Capas, Tarlac as the program was coming to an end before the fire on the pricey P50 million cauldron was extinguished symbolizing the close of the 2019 Games.