The Philippines is once again a force to reckon with in the South East Asian sports arena. We languished in 5th to 7th place in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games from 2007 till 2017. This, after lording over the field in 2005. This time, there is joy, there is euphoria, there is a renewed sense of pride in being a Filipino; more so, in being a Philippine athlete.
But with all the accolades, the good news the Philippine contingent received, the recently-concluded SEA Games also gave further evidence of the extent of damage Peping Cojuangco had inflicted on Philippine Sports. There were 4 sports that cried foul over Peping’s meddling from 2009 onwards. These were Dragon Boating, Bowling, Volleyball and Table Tennis. (Please read: Justice and Freedom for Philippine Sports.) To this day, all 4 disenfranchised sports bodies have not been reinstated. In the recent SEA Games, none of the 4 National Sporting Associations (NSAs) that Peping propped up in these sports could deliver a single gold.
In Dragonboating, the self-proclaimed world champions Philippine Canoe Kayak Dragonboat Federation (PCKDF), could only muster 2 bronzes despite the homecourt advantage. Promising at least 5 golds after their ‘triumphant’ world-champion stint in the USA, the PCKDF grasped for more excuses to justify their non-performance. It will be recalled that the team had enumerated a long list of alibis in the past Asian and SEA Games: from a false start, to the use of boats unfavorable to them, to lack of funds to bring in an extra steersman, to lack of time to acclimatize with the local conditions, etc. This time, the alibi is a divine wind blowing specifically against the Philippine lane We wonder what else they can think of next.
With the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF) at the helm before, the Philippines’ paddlers used to be a dominant force in this sport, coming up with 2 legitimate world records in 2009. No thanks to Peping’s immoral meddling, dragonboating in the Philippines has reached rock-bottom, even resulting in the untimely death of 7 paddlers a few months back due to a large extent to its lackadaisical control. (Please read: The Travails of Philippine Dragon Boating.)
The same holds true for bowling. The newly-minted Philippine Bowling Federation (PBF) occupied the last place as it could only muster 1 silver and 1 bronze despite a clear familiarity of the lanes, plus the home fans cheering. It will be recalled that the country used to dominate this sport as late as a decade ago. (Please read: Philippine Bowling Cries For Justice.) The removal of the Philippine Bowling Congress (PBC), and its eventual replacement by the PBF; the disunity engendered leading to the factionalism among the major bowling associations; all these have resulted in the miserable results in the medal race.
In volleyball, Peping would not allow the disfavored Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF) from joining foreign competitions for a while. All this changed when he replaced the PVF with a Liga ng Volleyball sa Pilipinas Inc (LVPI). Suddenly, our volleybelles were now getting more attention from our sports leaders. (Please read: The Rape of Philippine Volleyball.) Still, the period of neglect has disadvantaged the country’s volleyball players, as they tried to catch up with a vastly improved field spearheaded by the Thais. While it is encouraging to note our players’ 1 silver, 2 bronze result in the 2019 SEA Games, the fact that they cannot compete outside the country is frustrating. The international volleyball body (FIVB) continues to recognize the PVF, and this disqualifies the LVPI from joining the Asian Volleyball Federation (AVF). This disqualification will hamper the further development of our players.
This is precisely the same situation in Dragon Boating, where our PCKDF paddlers can only compete in International Canoe Federation-sanctioned tournaments. While PCKDF teams have been lording it over a clearly non-competitive canoeing community in the International Canoe Federation (ICF), they can only face the toughest heavyweight crews representing the more competitive International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) in the South East Asian or Asian Games. This is why last year, the PCKDF could not come up with a single medal in the Asian Games, and yet dominate the ICF-sponsored ‘World Championship’ in the next month.
In Table Tennis, the Philippines was also mired in the cellar, with just 1 bronze to show out of 4 events. Table Tennis is supposed to be another sport where we Filipinos can excel in. It’s a pity that sports politics has kept the players divided and the field underdeveloped. (Please read: How Peping Annexed Philippine Table Tennis.)
With the SEA Games over, the time is right to correct these misdeeds perpetrated by the previous POC leadership on our athletes. For more than a decade, our athletes have been at the mercy of sports leaders who have nothing but their own benefit in mind. It is time to change. It is time for Reforms.
Reform Philippine Sports will champion not just the cause of these 4 unjustly disenfranchised NSAs. It will champion the cause of all Philippine athletes, individually or collectively. To our athletes, we are here to help, should you need assistance; or if you have ideas that you feel can propel us to a better sports environment. To the Filipino people, join us and support us as we try to bring justice, unity and professionalism to the Philippine sporting world. Enough of sports politics. Enough of the bata-bata system. Enough of corrupt practices.
Let us join hands to make our country proud. Let us work together for a stronger Filipino youth. Let us teach our children proper conduct through professionalism in sports, espousing the correct values of teamwork, fair play and true sportsmanship. This should never be about our own personal aggrandizement. This should always be about our athletes, our people, our future. Only through this can we start hoping for a better Philippines ahead for our children.
Cover photo courtesy of: Inquirer Sports. Other photos courtesy of: CNN Indonesia, Eagle News, Bombo Radyo News, CNN Philippines, MB Sports, Inquirer Sports, The Strait Times, The Summit Express, The Summit World, ABS-CBN Sports, Rappler, Philippine News Agency and Video Toggle.