Filipinos felt as sense of pride as the 30th South East Asian Games unveiled at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan on November 30, 2019.
Thousands filled the venue of the event that marked the start of the country’s fourth hosting of the biennial multi-sport meet. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah graced the momentous occasion.
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The day before, Friday, November 29, the ticket- selling outlet was swamped with last-minute buyers wanting to purchase tickets for good seats to the hottest show in town.
The Opening Ceremonies produced by the Ceremonies and Cultural Events Division of the Philippine SEA Games Organizational Committee (PHISGOC), with US-based live ceremonies creator FiveCurrents, and local production technology companies Video Sonic and Stage Craft International Inc., proved to be a very rousing uninterrupted 90 minutes of spectacle and entertainment.
The program was also a virtual showcase of the best singing voices of the land, with Lani Misalucha giving an acapella rendition of the Philippine National Anthem; Robert Seña singing a welcome song for the foreign guests to the tune of “Kay Ganda Ang Ating Musika;” Aicelle Santos and Christian Bautista in duet of the Tagalog love song, “Minamahal Kita,” young singers Iñigo Pascual, Elmo Magalona and KZ Tandingan in a hiphop medley of “Mga Kababayan Ko,” “Man From Manila,” and “Tayo’y Mga Pinoy,” respectively; and Filipino-American rap artist apl.d.ap crooning his hit “Bebot.” Anna Fegi, Jed Madela, and the TNT Boys joined all of them in a rousing finale of the SEA Games 2019 theme song “We Win As One” popularized by Lea Salonga.
Filipino tradition was evident all throughout, from the pre-Hispanic Baybayin script that served as visual content linking the four segments of the production, to the Bayanihan-style nipa hut that opened to reveal street dancers inside, and the Filipina beauty queens who served as muses of each of the 11 Southeast Asian nations taking part in the games.
The parade of national athletes was easily a crowd favorite because of the presence of the beauty pageant titlists. Miss Intercontinental 2018 Karen Gallman was the muse of Brunei Darussalam; Miss Multinational 2018 Sophia Senoron, muse of Cambodia; Miss World 2013 Megan Young, muse of Indonesia; Ms. Eco Tourism 2018 Cynthia Thomalia, muse of Laos; Miss International 2006 Lara Quigaman, muse of Malaysia; Miss Earth 2017 Karen Ibasco, muse of Myanmar; Miss Earth 2014 Jamie Herrel, muse of Singapore; Miss Earth 2015 Angelia Ong, muse of Thailand; Miss Tourism 2017 Jannie Alipoon, muse of Timor Leste; Miss Asia Pacific International 2018 Sharifa Akeel, muse of Vietnam; and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, muse of the Philippines.
Legends in Philippine sports sprinter Lydia de Vega, swimmer Eric Buhain, swimmer Akiko Thompson, basketball cager Alvin Patrimonio, boxer Onyok Velasco, billiards player Efren “Bata” Reyes and bowlers Paeng Nepomuceno and Bong Coo were tasked to carry the SEA Games federation flag; and their appearance was met by cheers and heartfelt applause from the enthusiastic audience.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared the games open and the ceremonies was capped with the lighting of the cauldron in New Clark City by boxers champ Manny Pacquiao and Nesthy Petecio.
The Opening Ceremonies will not be complete without the hundreds of students from different schools and universities who danced in elaborately choreographed numbers. They include students from Centro Escolar University- Manila, Technological University of the Philippines, Universidad de Manila, University of the East – Manila, Lakandula High School, Mga Anak ni Inang Daigdig Dance Troupe, Technological University of the Philippines, First City Providential College, Villamor High School, Parañaque National High School, Mariano Marcos Memorial High School, UPeeps and VPeepzHiphop and cheer dancers from the Far Eastern University. The traditional dances were supervised by the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group.
Credits are also in order to the production team that included Palanca Award-winning writer, Floy Quintos who served as Creative Director, National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab who created the music, PHISGOC Director for Ceremonies and Cultural Events Mike Aguilar, FiveCurrents’ Creative Director Libby Hyland; FiveCurrents’ president, producer Scott Givens; director Simon Francis; musical arrangers Nikko Rivera and Jimmy Antiporda; music producer Eloisa Matias; costume designers Eric Pineda, Mitoy Sta. Ana and Maxi Cinco; choreographers Dexter Santos and Cherry Villanueva, Opening and Closing Ceremonies Manager Alou Almaden.
All in all, the 30th South East Asian Games 2019 Opening Ceremonies was a fitting beginning and a truly proud moment for the Filipino nation.