ALYSSA Valdez was named as the country’s flag bearer for the coming Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
The volleyball superstar from Ateneo will lead the 578-strong Philippine delegation during the traditional march past of nations in the opening ceremony of the biennial meet to be held on June 5.
Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas Inc. (LVPI) president Joey Romasanta hailed Valdez’s appointment as flag bearer by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), saying she deserves the position for being considered as the face of Philippine sports today.
But just how huge an honor is being the country’s flag bearer in a multi-sport event? A quick look at the short list below would reveal Filipino sports legends had at one time or another been chosen to carry the Philippine flag during their prime.
5. Eric Buhain
At 18 years old, he carried the country’s tricolors during the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Following the stint, the multi-titled swimmer went on to have a colorful career, the highlight of which came three years after when he won seven gold medals in the 1991 Southeast Asian Games, where he was named as Male Athlete of the meet.
He later became chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
4. Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes
The billiard sensation was given the honor of carrying the Philippine flag in the 1999 Brunei SEA Games, a watered down version of the biennial meet as only 21 sports were played during the time. He, however, failed to win a gold during the event, but later made up for it when he crowned himself king of the World Pool Championship.
3. Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski
After winning a gold medal in the 2002 Asian Games, the equestrienne got the distinction of carrying the flag when the Philippines hosted the 2005 SEA Games where she went on to win a gold in the team event of the showjumping competition. She also served as the country’s flag bearer in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, the last time a lady athlete carried the Philippine tricolors prior to Valdez’s appointment.
2. Rafael ‘Paeng’ Nepomunceno
A four-time World Cup champion, the lefty bowler was also a three-time Philippine flag bearer. He first played the role during the 1994 Asian Games in Hiroshima, Japan, where he won a silver medal. Paeng reprised the role during the 1997 Southeast Asian Games in Jakarta and the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Qatar.
1. Manny Pacquiao
The boxing superstar never competed in an international amateur competition but was given the opportunity to carry the national tricolors in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. No less than President Arroyo appointed Pacquiao as the country’s flag bearer in the Games even though he was not part of the pocket Philippine delegation. Multi-titled swimmer Miguel Molina had earlier been appointed as PH flag bearer, but the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) had a change of heart when Olympic officials gave the country the green light to allow Pacquiao to take on the position.