After mishaps, SEA Games redemption comes in grand opening ceremonies
BOCAUE, Philippines – The problems that earlier troubled the 2019 Southeast Asian Games were somehow forgotten after the country put on a grand show in the opening ceremonies on Saturday, November 30.
A luxurious spectacle wowed the crowd at the Philippine Arena here in Bulacan as a gigantic backdrop showing Philippine-inspired textile glowed as performers clad in colorful costumes danced.
The opening ceremonies celebrated Filipinos with Elmo Magalona, KZ Tandingan, and Iñigo Pascual singing hits by OPM legend Francis Magalona such as Mga Kababayan, Man from Manila, and Tayo'y Mga Pinoy.
Black Eyes Peas' Apl.de.Ap then took centerstage and performed Bebot before collaborating with Anna Fegi, Lani Misalucha, Christian Bautista, Aicelle Santos, Jed Madela, and the TNT Boys for We Win as One.
Composed by National Artist Ryan Cayabyab and Floy Quintos, We Win as One will serve as the SEA Games' theme song through 11 days of sporting action.
It felt like a trip down memory lane when 8 of the Philippines' greatest sporting icons graced the ceremonies and carried the Southeast Asian Games Federation flag, leaving the audience in awe as they walked.
Lydia de Vega and Paeng Nepomuceno led the momentous march followed by Eric Buhain, Akiko Thomson, Alvin Patrimonio, Onyok Velasco, Efren "Bata" Reyes, and Bong Coo.
The highlight of the opening ceremonies, though, was the athletes' parade as the delegation of each of the 11 participating nations reveled in the cheers of tens of thousands of fans.
Hosts Philippines – led by flagbearers Margielyn Didal, Ernest Obiena, Meggie Ochoa, Eumir Marcial, and Kiyomi Watanabe – came in last and looked like it brought its entire battalion with the largest contingent in the parade.
It was a display of unity for the Philippines, which is seeking its first overall title since it hosted the regional meet 14 years ago.
The Filipinos' entrance was marked by Hotdog's 1970s hit Manila – the song so catchy and infectious that even President Rodrigo Duterte clapped and waved his hands while Brunei sultan Hassanal Bolkiah stood beside him.
Capping off the night was the lighting of the controversial cauldron located at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac with boxing champions Manny Pacquiao and Nesthy Petecio serving as torchbearers. The segment, though, was pretaped during a supposedly test-run event last Tuesday, November 26.
The opening ceremonies drew praises from netizens, days after the Philippines' hosting was plagued by issues on food, transportion, accommodation, and unfinished venues.
Now, the focus shifts on the games and on whether the country will come out on top. – Rappler.com