SEA  GAMES  TO  BRING  OUT  BEST  IN  US

MANILA, August 17, 2005 
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Jose "Peping" Cojuangco, the Philippine Olympic Committee president and now the man in charge of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee or Philsoc remained confident the country would be able to host a successful Southeast Asian Games despite the organizers being P300 million short in funds and the meet barely 100 days away.

In yesterday’s formal opening of the Philsoc headquarters at the Philippine International Convention Center, Cojuangco said everything will fall into place as the country plays host to the biennial event on Nov. 27 to Dec. 5.

"There is a wrong impression that we’re far behind schedule," he said during an open forum that followed the house blessing of the Philsoc venue that will house the secretariat and all the different committees plus the spacious International Press Center for the SEA Games that would start exactly 102 days from now.

"And that’s wrong," Cojuangco continued, "because I believe that we’re even better and happier kapag gahol na sa oras at kailangan na talaga gawin. Doon lumalabas ang galing nating mga Filipino (When we’re out of time and really need to do it, it brings out the best in us)."

Cojuangco, who recently took over the reins of power at Philsoc from chairman Roberto Pagdanganan, said raising the money shouldn’t be a problem, considering that more private individuals who are both well-off and generous, are willing to lend a helping hand.

Philsoc needs at least P1 billion to plan and stage the Games. Marketing head Boy Santiago yesterday said counting the P300 million that would come from the government, Philsoc has generated P700 million in "cash and barter."

Cojuangco said he just met with Lucio Tan the other day on the possibility that the business tycoon would shell out more for the country’s hosting of the SEA Games. The Lucio Tan Group of Companies is just one of the very few who agreed as golden sponsors (worth P100 million) for the Games.

Among those who have pledged the same support are telecommunications giants PLDT and Globe.

Cojuangco said he is appealing to more "friends" from the private sector to contribute to the national cause and in fact has received a favorable reply from socio-civic leader Boy Saycon.

"I was told by Boy Saycon that he would gather some friends for assistance. We are here appealing for patriotism," said Cojuangco, adding that a number of congressmen have also expressed willingness to help.

"We’re preparing a letter to explain to these congressmen but right now we’re just playing it by ear," said the POC chief who was joined yesterday by Philsoc operating chief Ritchie Garcia and fellow Philippine Sports Commission commissioner Jose Mundo, Philsoc deputy secretary-general Jose Capistrano and those in charge of security, media and the volunteer brigade.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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