SUBIC  BAY FREEPORT, November 24, 2005 
(STAR) By Bebot Sison Jr. - The SEA Games torch relay reached this former American military base Tuesday as its cross-country journey nears its end with only four days to go before the Games unfold at the Luneta Grandstand.

In a stirring affair participated in by officials of Olongapo City, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the local community, the symbolic flame was lit here to formally signal the start of the Games in this satellie venue.

Eleven Filipino athletes took the symbolic torch from Olongapo City and then lit up 11 key areas in Subic, which represented the 11 countries participating in the SEA Games. The athletes were met by 11 SBMA officials and 11 investors.

Aside from the officials and investors, 11 pairs of Aeta natives from Subic and 44 children dressed in national costumes of the participating countries were present in the affair .

Coming from Olongapo City, Mayor James "Bong" Gordon passed the torch to SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza, who in turn handed it to archery gold medal hopeful Jennifer Chan.

Chan then started the torch relay, carrying the flame from the Freeport’s main gate to the next destination, where another athlete took it.

The symbolic flame passed through the other key sites until it reached the Remy Field here, where SBMA Chairman Feliciano Salonga received it.

The activity culminated when Salonga passed the torch to Athens Olympics veteran Jasmin Figueroa, who lighted the SEA Games urn after running around the SBMA Oval.

Pacquiao leads RP athletes in Luneta rites By Abac Cordero The Philippine Star 11/24/2005

They just can’t do it without Manny Pacquiao.

In a last-minute decision, the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee has made the RP boxing sensation part of the RP contingent for the Games’ opening ceremony this Sunday at the Quirino Grandstand.

Pacquiao, easily the most popular Filipino athlete here and abroad, will actually be the spearhead of the RP delegation, according to Lito Nadal, the executive producer of the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies.

Right behind the official Philippine placard-bearer will be Pacquiao who will march, smiling and waving to the crowd, in between two beauties — actress Angel "Darna" Locsin and newly-crowned Miss International Precious Lara Quigaman.

Like the rest of the members of the RP delegation, they will wear a Muslim-inspired Barong Tagalog, dark pants and black shoes.

Closely behind will be equestrienne Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, the official flag-bearer of the RP delegation. The 12 sports ambassadors from the Philippines, led by four-time World Cup bowling champion Paeng Nepomuceno, come next.

Then it’s First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, the chef-de-mission, followed by the country’s top sports officials led by Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose Cojuangco and Philippine Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez.

The hundreds of Filipino athletes will come in marching. There are 743 athletes representing the Philippines in the Games, but some of them won’t be around for the opening, since they’re already competing somewhere in Cebu, Bacolod or Los Baños.

Passing through the stands, the members of the RP delegation will face right to acknowledge the presence of President Arroyo and the cheers from the crowd, estimated to be close to 100,000.

Athens Olympics veteran Maria Antoinette Rivero will carry the SEA Games torch during the ceremony.

A dress rehearsal is scheduled tomorrow and on Saturday at the Quirino Grandstand of the Luneta.

Fund lack hounds Bacolod; GMA urged to release P50M The Philippine Star 11/24/2005

BACOLOD CITY–Rep. Monico Puentevella is banking on the commitment of President Arroyo to release the balance of P50 million from the government’s share of P300 million today to ease operational problems in the holding of the 23rd Southeast Asian Games here.

Puentevella, chairman of the Bacolod SEAG Organizing Committee, met with Arroyo yesterday in Manila to brief her on the financial difficulties being encountered by local organizing committees. Together with the Philippine SEAG Organizing Committee, the Bacolod solon will meet her again today to facilitate the immediate release of the additional fund.

"She (Arroyo) is hands on. I am optimistic that she will give the balance of P50 million to Philsoc," Puentevella said, adding that the additional fund will enable them to move better in their operations.

He, however, could not say how much of the P50 million will be allocated for Bacolod.

PNP chief Arturo Lomibao, meanwhile, has agreed to take care of the food and gasoline needs of the police assigned to provide security at the venues and as escorts to the athletes and officials pending the release of the funds.

BaSoc has been bugged by a barrage of complaints mainly on volunteers’ allowances, food and uniforms and the transportation of athletes, which have diverted the attention of the public from the events of the biennial games. — Antonieta Lopez

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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