FOREIGN trips and training factored in dancesport making a big difference in the country’s campaign to regain the overall title of the Southeast Asian Games.
All medal winners admitted their sojourn abroad as well as the help extended by two foreign coaches aided the national team in delivering the country’s first 10 golds in the recently-concluded biennial meet.
That gold rush eventually paved the way for the Filipinos to win the SEA Games overall title anew after 14 years.
“Sobrang laking bagay nun. Nandun kami (foreign trips), mag-stay kami doon two to three weeks, pagbalik namin feeling namin ibang tao na kami,” said Ana Leonila Nualla, who together with regular partner, Sean Mischa Aranar, bagged three gold medals in standard tango, viennese waltz, and five dance steps.
“And it’s very, very helpful for us.”
The pair along with fellow gold winners Mark Jayson Gayon and Mary Joy Reginen, Wilbert Aunzo and Pearl Marie Caneda, and Michael Angelo Marquez and Stephanie Zabalo were honored Thursday by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Dancesport Council of the Philippines (DSCPI) at the Rizal Park Hotel for their SEA Games golden feat.
Like Aranar and Nualla, Aunzo and Caneda likewise won three gold medals by topping the latin samba, chacha, and rumba.
In all, out of the 13 golds at stake, only three slipped out of the Filipino dancers' hands. They also won two silver medals.
All dancers trained in Italy and Lithuania and had a chance working with Polish coach Alina Nowak, a certified world dancesport champion, and Alexander Melnikov, a Russian dancesport athlete and adjucator.
“Lahat kami pumunta sa Italy for two weeks and lahat yun naging malaki ang effect sa amin,” said the 27-year-old Nualla. “Para sa amin talaga, ito yung malaking bagay kung bakit kami nakapag-uwi ng golds para sa Pilipinas.”
“Sa history ng federation namin, first time lang na nangyari na masuportahan kami na mag-training sa Europe,” added Aranar.
The foreign stint wouldn’t be possible without the backing of PAGCOR, according to DSCPI president Rebecca ‘Becky’ Garcia.
“All of our four couples who dominated the dancesport’s standard and latin categories benefitted from PAGCOR’s aid. We were able to send them to Italy to attend a rigid dance training as part of their preparations for the SEA Games,” said Garcia during the victory party.
“We could have not done this without PAGCOR.”
Andrea Domingo, PAGCOR chairman and CEO who herself is a dancesport enthusiast, added that investing in the Filipino athletes is something that the state-run gaming agency takes pride.
“Whenever we support our athletes, we also give our country a chance to shine internationally,” she said. “Our direct assistance to these dancers was spent wisely on training with the best coaches abroad, who further imparted their dance acumen to promising proteges.”
All medalists in the 30th SEA Games will receive cash incentives from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), which receives monthly remittances from PAGCOR.
Domingo said since taking over PAGCOR, the agency has remitted close to P6 billion to the PSC.