CAPAS, Tarlac: The Philippines regained the title King of Southeast Asia for harvesting the most number of medals in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, the biggest edition in history.

Home advantage proved golden for the Filipino athletes who hauled 149 gold, 117 silver and 119 bronze medals.

UNTIL THE NEXT GAMES Fireworks light up the New Clark City Stadium where athletes and spectators gathered for the last time to mark the closure of the 30th Southeast Asian Games. PHOTO BY ROGER RAÑADA

The previous best for the country was a total of 112 golds achieved when it hosted the games in 2005, followed by 91 in 1991 — also in Manila.

This year’s performance was the best since the country joined the SEA Games in 1977.

Vietnam, the next host in 2021, placed second with a medal tally of 98-85-105 followed by Thailand (92-103-123), Indonesia (72-84-111), Malaysia (55-58-71), Singapore (53-46-68), Myanmar (4-18-51), Cambodia (4-6-36), Brunei (2-5-6), Laos (1-5-28) and Timor-Leste (0-1-5).

Arnis, the national martial art and sport, delivered the most number of gold medals — 14. Olympics-bound Carlos Edriel Yulo emerged as the most bemedalled athlete with seven medals.

Filipino arnisadors racked a total of 14 gold, four silver, and two bronze medals and emerged as the best performing national sports association.

The Philippine athletics team duplicated its 11-gold feat in the 1983 edition to cap off an impressive 11-8-8 showing at the New Clark City Athletics Stadium in Capas, Tarlac.

The country grooved its way to 10 gold medals while taekwondo grabbed eight golds, boxing and wushu with seven golds each, skateboarding with six, on top of a six-gold sweep in the obstacle course.

Triathlon and duathlon combined delivered four golds, jiujitsu, five golds, billiards, four golds,and kickboxing, cycling, eSports, judo, muay thai, rowing, sailing, and soft tennis delivered three golds each.

The basketball-crazy nation also bagged all golds up for grabs as the Gilas Pilipinas finished with four golds, sweeping the 3 by 3 and 5 by 5, both in men and women’s events.

First Filipino gymnastic world champion Yulo showed a prelude to his Olympic stint after flexing two golds and five silvers.

“It is a happy day for the Philippine Sports Commission, Team Philippines and the country as we celebrate our return to SEAG supremacy. We all worked hard for this. The Philippine Olympic Committee, national sports associations, the organizing committee, the government, the private sector, and the Filipino people all came together to show our team that they have the whole nation behind them. Salamat po sa lahat,” said Philippine Sports Commission Chairman and Chef de Mission William Ramirez.

“I am overwhelmed by the performance of our athletes in the 30th SEA Games. They showed us that with proper support and encouragement, they will deliver. I am proud that they proved that my faith in them was well-placed. But this is just the beginning,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino.

“These Games are not only about medals. It is about character, resilience, love for one another and shoring up the faith of the person next to you,” Ramirez said.

By virtue of Republic Act 10699, winners of the SEA Games are set to receive P300,000, P150,000 and P60,000, respectively for gold, silver and bronze medalists.

On top of the reward, the President is expected to give out additional incentives of P250,000 for gold, P150,000 for silver and P100,000 for bronze winners.