PHILIPPINE athletes bound for the 2017 Southeast Asian Games were honored in a send-off ceremony on Thursday night and urged to fight for flag and country.
Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose 'Peping' Cojuangco and Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez led the well-wishers to hundreds of athletes before they leave for Kuala Lumpur in batches starting on Friday.
Cojuangco and Ramirez encouraged the athletes to show fight and offer their effort to the country.
"When you go out there, don't forget, we are Filipinos. We are sportsmen, you have full of guts to win the competition," said Cojuangco during the send-off at the Center for International Trade and Missions-Department of Trade and Industry in Pasay City.
"It's not only about the gold. It's not only about the score. It's the way you fight, and you fight there, you bring every Filipino in the boxing ring or in the track oval. That's the spirit of the Filipino," Ramirez said.
Ramirez also mentioned several Filipino sports legends that he hopes will serve as inspiration to the current athletes.
"You are the heart and soul of the country," said Ramirez.
Gymnastics president Cynthia Carrion, the delegation's chief of mission, also expressed confidence that the Philippines is capable of winning the 50 gold medals that she earlier predicted.
The Philippines is looking to surpass its sixth-place showing in the previous edition of the SEA Games two years ago in Singapore where it collected 29 gold medals.
Leading the athletes and coaches that attended the ceremony was Kirstie Elaine Alora of taekwondo, the country's flag bearer in the opening rites of the SEA Games on August 19 at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.
Also present were the celebrated Gilas Pilipinas squad led by Kiefer Ravena and Kobe Paras, former world billiards champion Rubilen Amit, Olympian boxer Charly Suarez, and bowling legend and national coach Paeng Nepomuceno.'
Performances led by National Youth Commission chairman Aiza Seguerra livened up the rites.