MANILA, August 17, 2005 
(STAR) The 100-day countdown before the 23rd Southeast Asian Games formally begins today, with a nationwide relay of the SEAG flame highlighting the events leading to the biennial meet.

The Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Philsoc) has drawn up several activities in and around the country within the coming months to perk up the public’s awareness on the Nov. 27 to Dec. 5 hosting of the Games.

The publicity stunts include the torch relay that begins in Vietnam, site of the last SEA Games in 2003, and passes through major cities around the country, a caravan run and a signature campaign to be initiated by popular energy drink Milo.

Philsoc has already made an arrangement with government corporations such as the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), Landbank, among others, to include the SEA Games hosting as part of their respective advertising operations.

A similar agreement has also been reached with the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcasters ng Pilipinas (KBP) to allow airtime on the playing of the SEA Games jingle.

Likewise, commercial ads featuring former SEA Games champions in the likes of Eric Buhain, Lydia de Vega and Paeng Nepomuceno, are also in the works, with some of the athletes themselves to be asked to appear in person in some mall and school tours being put up by Philsoc.

Commemorative plates will also be made available to all local government units, earnings to be gained from it will be used to further augment the country’s hosting budget.

Apart from it, streamers will be put up in the country’s major thoroughfares and car stickers to be given free to the public.

Will RP eclipse ‘Miracle of ’91?’ By Joaquin Henson The Philippine Star 08/19/2005

(Editor’s note: The STAR is coming out with SEAG reports and updates as the country starts its 100-day countdown to the 23rd staging of the Games.)

The Philippines has never won the overall title in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and it fell a gold medal shy of tying Indonesia for top honors in 1991 when Manila hosted the 16th edition of the biennial competitions.

The records show that host nations topped the medal standings in six of the last 10 stagings of the SEA Games. Malaysia took the overall plum for the first time when it hosted the 21st Games in 2001. And Vietnam also won the overall championship for the first time when it hosted the 22nd Games two years ago.

This year marks the Philippines’ turn to host and hopes are high that it will follow in the footsteps of Malaysia and Vietnam to bag the overall crown. Surely, the mission won’t be easy.

But with the Philippines expected to field close to 900 athletes vying for 441 gold medals in 41 sports, the betting is the hometown advantage will be the X-factor in propelling the locals to victory.

It will only be the third SEA Games that the Philippines is hosting.

The first was in 1981 when the Philippines placed third behind Indonesia and Thailand. A close examination of the stakes in 18 sports revealed that the Philippines, in fact, garnered the most medals of all with 187, broken down into 55 golds, 55 silvers and 77 bronzes. Indonesia hauled in 184 with 85 golds, 73 silvers and 26 bronzes while Thailand claimed 148 with 62 golds, 45 silvers and 41 bronzes.

The second was in 1991 when the Philippines nearly upstaged Indonesia in a miracle performance. There were over 3,700 athletes from seven nations who battled for honors in 28 sports and the hosts almost emerged on top of the heap. Indonesia was a gold up, 91-90, entering the final day of competitions and two gold medals were on the line in the men’s and women’s marathon. A sweep would assure the Philippines of the overall title.

As it turned out, national record holder Herman Suizo bagged the gold in the men’s marathon to even the count in the overall standings. The decider was in the ladies’ marathon. Former barefoot wonder Arsenia Sagaray was the Philippines’ bet but she dropped out of contention near the homestretch, clearing the way for Indonesia’s Maria Lawalata to retain the title and break the tie. When the smoke cleared, it was Indonesia on top of the ladder with 92 golds and the Philippines was a whisker away with 91.

Still, it was the Philippines’ worthiest SEA Games performance ever, collecting a total of 239 medals, 18 more than third-placer Thailand. An added feather in the hosts’ cap was swimmer Eric Buhain being named the SEA Games best male athlete for capturing six golds. Buhain later became the Philippine Sports Commission chairman and is now the Games and Amusements Board chairman.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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