Athens (Via Globe Telecom),  August 12, 2004  (STAR) By Lito A. Tacujan - – It was through in 20 minutes, the raising of the Philippine flag at the Olympic village, the rites simple and solemn and shared by three other nations.

There are hopes that in this fortnight of the Games, the rites will be repeated and the strains of the national anthem playing in some cavernous Athenian hall.

The Philippine colors fluttered in the light wind in another sweltering summer day in this Greek city, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, formally welcoming the compact RP delegation Tuesday into the fold of the biggest assembly of nations, numbering 202 in all.

Sharing the podium with the nation were the teams from Egypt, Iceland and Bhutan.

Chef de Mission Steve Hontiveros led the 27 other members of the contingent from Manila in the traditional ceremony and gifted Village Mayor John Marros with a Filipino-made embroidered table set and a book on the Olympic Movement in the country written by Philippine Olympic Committee president Celso Dayrit.

In return, Hontiveros, the current chief of the International Bowling Federation (FIQ) and the Philippine Bowling Congress, received an olive branch in a bottle dipped in olive oil.

"Now we go to the business at hand with our athletes doing their best in this world stage of sports and, win or lose, making the nation proud," Hontiveros said.

Dayrit arrived Wednesday in time for the archery event and the opening ceremonies of the 28th edition of the Games which four years ago were on the verge of being scuttled but were saved by what has long been regarded as the Greeks’ last minute heroics.

A cultural presentation of a five-minute modern dance depicting the Olympic motto "Faster, Higher, Stronger" capped the day’s program at the amphitheater beside the International Zone.

The Filipinos wore off-white barong tagalog and deep brown pants for the occasion, the attire they would use for the opening rites Friday at the Olympic Stadium.

Among those who graced the rites were finance officer Benjamin Ramos, administrative officer Carlos Santos Viola, boxing team leader Mayor Mel Lopez,Jr., coaches Ramon Jose Corral, Henry Manalang, Anthony Lozada and Greg Caliwan and swimming official Chito Rivera, Fil-Am tanker Jaclyn Pangilinan and flagbearer Chris Camat.

Two other swimmers — United States-based Miguel Mendoza and Miguel Molina — also attended the ceremony so did Olympic first timers Jethro Dionisio and archer Jazmin Figueroa.

Only the three Filipino taekwondo jins — Donald Geisler, Tshomlee Go and Maria Antoinette Rivera — their coaches Jesus Morales and Korean Kim Hyun, team leader Sung Chung Hong and POC chair Robert Aventajado are the only ones unaccounted in the lean RP team since their events wouldn’t be held until Aug. 26.

The Philippines is to compete in six fronts — boxing, taekwondo, shooting, archery, swimming, and athletics.

The boxers — light flyweight Harry Tañamor, flyweight Violito Payla, welterweight Romeo Brin and middleweight Chris Camat — and the jins are fancied to have fighting chances in their respective discipline and give the country an Olympic medal since being shut out in Sydney four years ago.

Two athletes will start the RP campaign in the event with Figueroa, a wild card entry, going up against the best archers in the world in the 72-arrow ranking round in archery at the Dekelia Complex field close to the Olympic Village Thursday.

She will be among 64 entries seeing action in the event which will determine the placings for the knockout stages. They will shoot 18 arrows in the first three rounds and if the 19-year old student at the University of Makati would survive, she would go into the crucial quarterfinals firing 12 arrows.

Camat is scheduled to go up the ring in the middleweight first round on Saturday. Swimmers Mendoza, Timmy Chua and Molina will also compete in the day.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved