Filipino athletes return home from SEA Games

Despite their failure to ace the competition, Filipino athletes who took part in the 24th Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in Thailand might still get a bonus from Jose Miguel Arroyo, the husband of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Cerge Remonde, head of the Presidential Management Staff, on Saturday hinted that those who garnered gold medals would likely get a bigger bonus.

“I am sure that the First Gentleman would take care of our Filipino athletes. He has been taking care of them especially ang nagbigay ng honor sa ating bansa sa SEA Games (those who gave honor to the country in the SEA Games),” Remonde said on government-run dzRB radio.

As this developed, the Philippine athletes returned to the country at 5 a.m. Saturday, many of them wearing the gold medals they won from SEAG.

QTV on Saturday reported that basketball coach Junel Baculi told his players, who won the gold medals in men’s basketball, to be “humble in victory.”

“(We’re) very happy, very fulfilled. Naghirap ang mga players para sa bayan natin (Our players gave their all for the country), we prepared more than seven or eight months,” said Baculi.

Members of the women’s basketball team, along with the country’s boxing team, also returned before dawn Saturday.

Nakikipag-sparring kami sa lalaki, marami akong injury na natanggap bago nakamit ang tagumpay na ito (I sparred with the men and was injured before I earned this victory),” said Annie Albania, women’s flyweight champ.

But Albania admitted she had mixed feelings over her victory at the SEAG. She said she was saddened over the questionable officiating at the expense of other Filipino boxers.

Some of the boxers walked out of their matches during the games in Thailand.

Masaya na malungkot dahil kasamahan ko hindi fair ang ginawa nilang scoring (I feel happy and sad because I felt the officiating was not fair),” she said.

The Philippines ended sixth in the SEAG, failing to duplicate its feat in 2005. Manila hosted the 2005 Games.

When Philippine athletes left for Thailand last December 5, William Ramirez, chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission said the Philippines hoped for a repeat of its 2005 showing.

In the 2005 games, the Philippines had 113 gold medals, 84 silver and 94 bronze medals for a total of 291.

Thailand was second with 87 golds, 78 silvers, and 118 bronzes for a total of 283.

This year’s games, from December 6 to 15, had the theme “Spirit, Friendship and Celebrations,” and featured some 436 events in at least 43 sports.

However, the Philippine stint this year was marred with walkouts over alleged questionable officiating.

Ironically, Thai officials made similar accusations against the Philippines when the Philippines hosted the SEAG in 2005. – GMANews.TV

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