OLYMPIAN Michael Christian Martinez was conspicuously absent from the Philippine delegation competing in ice skating in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Philippine Skating Union president Josie Veguillas explained that it was Martinez himself who begged off from participating in the biennial games.
"Gusto niyang magpahinga. Yun ang sinabi niya sa amin," she said. "Ininvite naman namin siyang mag-try out sa nationals kasi yan ang qualification. Eh hindi siya nag-try out."
Martinez won the silver medal back in the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur and was tipped to be the heavy favorite had he competed in the Manila Games.
Rather than dwell on who's not present, Veguillas lauded those who were here as Christopher Caluza and Edrian Paul Celestino finished in the top three after the short program for the men's side on Friday.
"Itong dalawa, nag-try out. Talagang maganda ang performance nila. Talagang pinakita nila na kaya nila," she said.
"We just have to be fair. Di na lang basta porket champion ka two years ago, champion ka pa rin ngayon. Kung di ka nagpa-practice, anong mangyayari, di ba? Yung iba dyan na maski bago lang sila, nagpa-practice sila, so aabutan ka nila."
Caluza and Celestino themselves believe that they are more than capable of flying the flag in SEA Games.
"The results of the past aren't important for this current competition because this is the current, this is the present, and we're just trying to write our own history," said Celestino.
Caluza added: "You know, the past is the past, and I'm with the future. This is the future. And the thing is that past results are never relevant. It's always us that create the results for ourselves."
Veguillas is confident the two can land a podium finish with free skate still slated on Sunday.
"Gumagaling sila eh. Ginagalingan nila, pinag-praktisan nila at kaya nila," she said. "Give them more time. Bago lang sila eh. Nag-start pa lang. Kaya yan."