TEAM Philippines basks in the glory of its stirring triumph in the 30th Southeast Asian Games when it is feted with the highest honor by the Philippine Sportswriters Association in special rites tonight at the Centennial Hall of the Manila Hotel.
Bannered by world champion and double gold winner Carlos Yulo, women’s world boxing champion Nesthy Petecio, and Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, the Philippine contingent is the recipient of the coveted Athlete of the Year award, leading a huge cast of sports stars and personalities who will be recognized during the rites backed by SMC.
Top sports officials led by Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez, Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, International Olympic Committee representative to the country Mikee Cojuangco Jaworski, and Deputy House Speaker and NorthPort team owner Mikee Romero join the country’s oldest media organization in paying tribute to the men and women who did the country proud in their respective fields last year.
Many-time world champion Efren “Bata” Reyes, a member of the national delegation to the SEA Games at 65 years old, will be the special guest speaker in the gala night presented by the PSC, Milo, and Cignal TV. The legendary pool icon will also be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
A record medal haul of 149 gold, 117 silvers, and 121 bronze medals helped the Philippines win the overall title of the biennial meet just for the second time in its 42 years of participation in the Games, a collective effort that gained Team Philippines the nod as recipient of the prestigious Athlete of the Year trophy in the two-hour program also supported by the Philippine Basketball Association, AirAsia, and Rain or Shine.
Citations will be given to all gold medal winners in the SEA Games, making up the bulk of the close to 200 awardees comprising the 2019 honor roll list.
Also invited to the annual event to be hosted by broadcaster Sev Sarmenta and Rizza Diaz is House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee.
Yulo, who earned a berth to the Tokyo Olympics after becoming the first Filipino and male gymnast from Southeast Asia to win a gold in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, will also be bestowed the President’s Award, while Ramirez will be honored with the Executive of the Year for serving as chef de mission of Team Philippines in the SEA Games.
The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines headed by Ricky Vargas will receive the National Sports Association of the Year award, while special awards will be given to Thirdy Ravena and Jack Danielle Animam (Mr. and Ms. Basketball), Bryan Bagunas and Sisi Rondina (Mr. and Ms. Volleyball), Bianca Pagdanganan (Ms. Golf), Stephan Schrock (Mr. Football), and the first Coach of the Year to multi-titled women’s mentor Patrick Aquino.
Milo Junior Athletes of the Year awards will be handed out to the quartet of Alex Eala, Daniela Dela Pisa, Miguel Barreto, and Daniel Quizon, while the Philippine men’s 3×3 basketball team will be recognized with the Chooks-To-Go Fan Favorite award.
Diaz and Petecio banner the list of major awardees that also include Tokyo Olympic qualifier and Asian Athletics Championships gold winner Ernest John Obiena, world boxing champions Jerwin Ancajas and Johnriel Casimero, five-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, five-time Philippine Cup champ San Miguel Beer, undefeated six-time UAAP women’s basketball title holder NU Bulldogs, golfers Juvic Pagunsan, Princess Superal, and Aidric Chan, and Horse of the Year Union Bell.
Swimmers Micaela Jasmine Mojdeh and Marc Bryant Dula join Eala and six others as recipients of the Tony Siddayao awards, named after the late Manila Standard sports editor Tony Siddayao, acknowledged as the dean of Philippine sportswriting, and given out to young and promising athletes aged 17-below.
Also to be remembered with a prayer and a minute of silence are dearly departed athletes, officials, and friends of the PSA.