A unifying divisive Games!

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    JUST when you thought the opening ceremonies of the 30th SouthEast Asian Games had ushered in a period of unity with everyone (except the most rabid anti-PRRD folks) singing praises for the program, the peace and tranquility is shattered by – of all people – Davao City Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio, who complains that the song “Manila” wasn’t appropriate as an entrance song for the Philippine delegation.

    Never mind that, per reports, His Excellency Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Philippines, swayed to the music as it was playing to herald the entrance of the local sports heroes.

    Mayora Sara’s comment elicited assents and dissent, with some friends of mine taking opposite sides accompanied by accusations of “parochial thinking” and “imperialism.” Some agreed, to some extent, that Manila IS NOT the Philippines, so why use that song?

    Furthermore, since the opening rights were held in Bocaue, Bulacan – wasn’t there a song that went “Bocaue, Bocaue, I keep coming back to Bocaue?”

    I have to admit I was reading as many comments and counter-comments that I could read in a day with much amusement.

    Maybe they could have played “Pilipinas Kong Mahal?” But that wouldn’t match with a happy bunch of athletes marching in.

    The most appropriate song to encompass Philippine-ness would have been “Lupang Hinirang,” which by the way IS a march, BUT it would have meant that everyone would have had to stand at attention and no one would have moved at all; even the athletes would have remained backstage, unmoving, until the end of the song. Purpose of an entrance hymn defeated.

    Some helpful (naughty?) netizens were suggesting the “Aparri hanggang Jolo” jingle of “Eat Bulaga.” But there are hidden problems therein as well. You see, Tawi-Tawi might have objected because they are still part of our territory to the south of Jolo, and yet were excluded from the song. Now we don’t wanna provoke hostilities there, do we?

    Same with the folks of Batanes – who live north of Aparri: in pique the people of Batanes could opt to secede and join up with Taiwan. Or China. (Or even Hong Kong?)

    I noticed that even my good friend, former UP Student Council chairman and now member of the UP Board of Regents Atty Angelo “Jijil” Jimenez has joined the fray, siding with Mayora Sara on the inappropriateness of the song “Manila.” That’s when I felt that this was no laughing matter; once someone like Jijil chimes in, you know that the issue you were just about to brush aside is something worth sitting up straight for and taking note of.

    Even as the medals started to pour in – Carlos Yulo’s two gold medals were most inspiring for me as I contemplate trying out for the “gymnastics for geriatrics” – there were still news spreading that one had to be careful about in an age of fake news.

    There was one story about the cauldron not being kept lit throughout the Games; that story died away apparently because it was inaccurate or fake. The other cauldron-centric ado was about the way it was lit in the first place – not live the way we are used to with runners entering the arena carrying the live flame and some designated VIP ascending the stairs to get to the place where the cauldron will be lit. I am not sure how it was done but was the cauldron pre-lit by Senator-Champ Manny Pacquiao a day previously and the whole event taped and then shown on the giant screen at the Philippine Arena?

    Point is: there are no hard and fast rules about how a cauldron is lit. There are practices and traditions but no hard and fast rules. Those who cannot find anything right with the PRRD administration will make a big fuss about this, while those who cannot find anything wrong about the PRRD administration will defend to death the “break in tradition.” Me? I am more interested in whether the monies were properly spent and how we maintain the facilities (yes, the cauldron included) once the last athlete has gone home and displayed his medal –or retired his jersey.

    That’s why I argue: next time we host a major sporting event – and the Asian Games would be a great idea – let’s build or fix the sporting venues in or around our state universities and build the athletes’ quarters there. You can convert the quarters into much needed dormitories for the students, while the sports facilities would be used no end for physical education classes and for the training of varsity teams. And no, I am not particularly referring to building the sports facilities in UP Diliman; but since you my dear reader thought about it then why not? UP still has enough land for this anyway.

    As the 30th SEA Games enters its last weekend with the Philippines still atop the leaderboard both in terms of gold medal haul and total medal haul, let us celebrate the fact that our organizers were hailed for the “Best Organized SEA Games ever.” Now, even this citation has caused a firestorm of comment on social media – which leaves me with the thought that this must be the most unifying divisive Games in history!

    It all goes back to the Original Sin, you see. (Check my column last December 2, Monday!)

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