MANILA, JULY 29, 2008
(STAR) The main bulk of athletes and officials in the 37-member Team Philippines depart for Beijing on Aug. 5, three days before the Olympic Games fires off in glittering rites.

Chef de Mission Monico Puentevella and Olympic attaché Arturo Macapagal head the 27 athletes, coaches and officials taking a Philippine Airlines flight for a four-hour trip to the Chinese capital.

Leaving with the three are athletes Marestella Torres and Henry Dagmil of athletics; Harry Tañamor of boxing; Sheila Mae Perez and Rexel Ryan Fabriga of diving; Daniel Cockley, Ryan Paolo Arabejo, Miguel Molina, James Walsh and Joan Christel Simms of swimming, and Hidilyn Diaz of weighlifting; coaches Patricio Gaspi, Jennifer Chan, Joseph Sy, Juan Enrique Tissert, Zhang Dehu, Jason Calanog, Carlos Brosas, Ramon Solis; press officers Joey Romasanta, Ricardo Yang, Mark Joseph; doctors Martin Camara, Alejandro Pineda and Orson Odulio.

Shooter Eric Ang and archer Mark Javier will be accompanied by coaches James Chua and Jennifer Chan when they depart on July 31, while the taekwondo team made up of athletes Toni Rivero and Tshomlee Go and coaches Raul Samson and Kim Hong Sik will leave on Aug. 11.

The first group going to Beijing is made up of Philippine Olympic Committee treasurer Julian Camacho, administrative official Moying Martelino and administrative assistant Eleanor dela Peña. They are leaving this morning to attend the delegations’ registration meeting scheduled at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Boxing legend Manny Pacquiao and his wife Jinkee will join President Arroyo, First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, POC president Jose Cojuangco, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez, Sen. Gringo Honasan and several others in another PAL flight taking off on Aug. 7.

Pacquiao has been appointed by the President as his special Olympic envoy and will march at the head of Team RP as flag-bearer during the parade of nations.

In its first official act as member of the Olympic family in Beijing, Team RP will participate in the flag-raising rites along with several other nations in the morning of Aug. 4.

According to Martelino, the five Filipinos who are seeing action in wushu, a special event in this Olympiad, will join Ang, Javier, Camacho, and Dela Peña during the brief, simple flag-raising rites to be supervised by Athletes Village mayor Chen Zhili, a senior communist party official.

Amid tight security and shroud of smog, the vast Athletes Village opened last Sunday in a ceremony attended by basketball star Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets and more than 200 other Chinese medal hopefuls.

Home to the athletes up to the closing days of August, the Village is made up of 42 apartment blocks each equipped with high-speed Internet access and containing more than 9,000 bedrooms.

It has a 24-hour restaurants, a clinic, library, shops and sports facilities.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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