“Kahiya-hiya ang nagiging performance natin sa mga international competitions [Our performance in international competitions is a shame].”
It is as much a bitter fact as a fair indictment of the woeful, also-ran state of Philippine sports.
The statement was made more than one year ago by Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and between March 2014 when he did so and October 2015, the country has won only one gold medal in a highly competitive environment, thanks to BMX racer Daniel Caluag, in the Asian Games in Inchon, South Korea, last year.
The Asian Games is arguably the only regional tournament in the continent that draws Olympic-caliber athletes, which makes Philippine sports honchos a pathetic bunch when they jump like chimpanzees in extolling first-place winners in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
Not to take anything away from, for example, any 2015 SEA Games winner but even a top-of-the podium finish in this biennial event would not even be enough to send the winner to the round of 16 in, say, the 400 meter hurdles for men in the Rio Olympics next year.
Back then, Marcos even proposed to replace the sub-Cabinet Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) with a Cabinet-level Department of Sports, an idea that is easier said than done, partly because it will run into possible conflict with the Department of Education.
Citing supposedly insufficient push by the government through a sustainable program aimed at guaranteeing the welfare of Filipino athletes when they opt to retire from their sport, the senator vowed to give his “unwavering support” to all proposals that have been and will be filed in the Senate.
That concern will probably please Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga, the “Big Difference” of Philippine basketball, who reportedly is very sick and obviously needs all the financial and moral support that this not-so-grateful nation failed to give him when he could still walk.
It is moot to be talking of such support for Anthony Villanueva, the boxer who gave the Philippines its first silver medal in any sport in the 1960 Tokyo Olympics.
Villanueva passed away early this year—poor, unlamented, wasted, treated like dirt, with Malacanang clueless on who or what the guy did for Philippine sports in his heyday.
We should move on, of course, and perhaps Marcos can start with throwing his backing behind at least three bills in the House of Representatives: one seeking amendments to Republic Act (RA) 6847 or the Philippine Sports Commission Act of 1990, another calling for the creation of a Philippine Boxing Commission (PBC) and still another recommending the establishment of a fitness center in every barangay (village) nationwide.
Sadly, the senator will have to reckon with the rather slow movement of the three House bills.
The measure seeking changes in RA 6847 has been referred to stakeholders only early this year and those on birthing the PBC and establishing the fitness centers have been pending since 2013.
Marcos’ job is to get these important bills move faster.