“Nothing to be ashamed of.”
With these inspiring words, ring icon and Senator Manny Pacquiao welcomed the Filipino athletes upon their return after representing the country in the recently concluded 29th Southeast Asian Games held in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
“You have nothing to be ashamed of for in the eyes of our countrymen, I’m sure, and the whole world, you carried the country’s colors and the word Filipino with honor and dignity as we expected you to do, Pacquiao declared.
“You might not have succeeded in bringing home gold medals sports officials have projected you could, but for us who witnessed your winning and losing on television and read in the newspapers, kayo’y umuwing mga bayani, “ he proclaimed
“Bayani sa pagiging instrumento ng pagkakaisa at pagkakaunawaan ng mga bansa at mamamayan na kaanib ng Southeast Asian Games Federation,” the world’s only eight-division champion asserted.
“During the medal awarding ceremonies, when our national anthem was played and our flag was displayed, you stood at the podium with pride knowing you earned the honors for performing under the true spirit of sportsmanship.” the only man in boxing history to climb from a light-flyweight (109-pound) campaigner to super-welterweight (154-pound) and win world titles in all of them, added.
“In the closing ceremony, you, along with competitors from other countries, shed tears of gladness and embraced each other with the thoughts that you all made a few steps for the better international relations among nations,” the former Sarangani congressman said.
The father of a brood of five with former Vice Gov., Jinkee, said these are things that cannot be quantified by medals won in any international competitions. “Of course, there are always those who assessed your performance as a debacle even shameful, etc. ”
He advised the athletes though not to be disturbed with all those diatribes for “they came from those with limited vision on what sports is all about and what it is to be an athlete. Those ignorant of how sports has evolved as the amazing way in bringing all the nations and peoples of the world closer together,” he stressed.
“And that, to me, as an athlete myself, and to all those who understand, is the most important message na dala–dala ninyo sa inyong pag-uwi as winners of medals of new friendships. Winners of gold medals of wisdom gained from competing against and befriending our Southeast Asian neighbors.
Pacquiao emphasized that what happened the past two weeks in Kuala Lumpur was not the fault of the athletes. “May mga pangyayaring dinanas ang ilan sa inyo na hindi maiiwasan. Gaya noong isa na hanggang malapit na kayong umalis ay tinanggal bilang miyembro ng kanyang koponan. Pero lumabas na siya pa ang nanalo ng ating first gold medal. Then there were a few who, in the last minute withdrew for reasons only they knew,” Pacquiao narrated.
“Mayroon tayong isang runner na tumakbo ng apat na beses sa isang araw kaya imbes na manalo sana ng dalawang gold naging isa na lamang. Mayroon ding siguradong gold medalist pero tinanggal ang kanilang sports sa calendar of events,” he continued.
“All these problems could have been given solution months before the Games by the respective NSAs. What I’m trying to say is everything didn’t end in Kuala Lumpur. Hindi natapos ang mundo sa Malaysia. May pagkakataon pa tayong makabangon,” he said.
“Two years from now the Games will be held here. Pagbutihin natin ang preparasyon at naniniwala akong makaba- bawi tayo. MABUHAY ANG ATLETANG PILIPINO!” Pacquiao exclaimed.