ANGELES. — Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Bambol Tolentino was the least surprised at the strong opening-day showing of the country’s campaigners in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
After all, as the former sports director of the Philippine SEA Game Organizing Committee, Tolentino masterminded the selection of the 56 sports and 530 events being played in the Games.
At the end of Day 1 action last Sunday, the hosts were proudly perched on top of the overall medal standings with 20 gold, 10 silver and five bronze medals, with the Vietnamese a distant second (5-12-7) and Malaysia third (4-1-2).
“Expected ko na ‘yan,” the amiable Tagaytay congressman said with a satisfied smile on the sidelines of the arnis event at the Angeles University Foundation gym here.
The ethnic combat sport was a major contributor to Team Philippines’ sizzling start in the first full day of the Games.
With Tolentino and Sen. Migz Zubiri, the Philippine Eskrima and Kali Federation president, watching, the local arnis warriors marked their golden return to the SEA Games by winning five of the eight mints at stake.
While triathlon kick-started the Philippine campaign with a sweep of the men’s and women’s events in Subic, dancesport provided majority of the gold medal production.
Showing flair, pizzazz and precision, Filipino dancers struck a gold mine, waltzing away with 10 of the 13 gold medals up for grabs that wowed the crowd at the Royce Hotel inside the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.
There were a lot of notable individual exploits, too, among them world gymnastics champion Carlos Edriel Yulo, who lived up to expectations by romping off with the men’s all-around title in his SEA Games debut at the restored Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Willowy wushu bet Agatha Chyrztenzen Wong remained the undisputed taijiiquan (taichi) queen in taolu (forms), handily retaining her title.
Often ignored and overlooked, the national sepak takraw squad also had its day in the sun, winning the men’s and women’s hoops mints.
“Just wait and see how these golden performances will snowball,” Tolentino said, confident the Philippines is on the way to regaining the overall championship it last won in the 2005 Games.