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Philippines hosting 2019 SEAG in Clark, Zambales, Bulacan

The Philippines intends to hold the 30th SEA Games in Clark, Pampanga and the neighboring provinces of Bulacan and Zambales while showcasing to our Southeast Asian neighbors “the new Philippines.”

Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano, designated as the 2019 SEA Games Organizing Committee chairman, bared this in an interview with the Filipino sportswriters in the sidelines of the semifinals matches of SEAG volleyball competition at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Center here yesterday.

Cayetano is here to cheer the Filipino athletes and have an initial talk with Philippine Olympic Committee President Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. with regards the country’s hosting of the next SEA Games.

The first order is to set up the structure of the organizing group for the country’s fourth hosting of the biennial meet since 1981. Cayetano is excited. “It’s a great opportunity to do three things. Number one is to feature the new Philippines. Number two, is to show Philippine hospitality. And number three, to focus on training and grassroots sports program in the Philippines,” said Cayetano.

“Of course, we want our athletes to win. That’s always the aspirational goal. But since we also represent our country, to see the hospitality, to see the brotherhood, basically what sports stands for, what the Olympics was put together for to see the beauty of the Filipino, and the beauty of the Philippines.

It looks a consensus has been reached to put up a new sports center in the sprawling Clark area in Angeles, Pampanga to make it the main hub of the 2019 Games and training facilities of the Filipino athletes for the other future international events.

“With or without the 2019 hosting, may (there’s) 50 to 100 hectares in New Clark City that was really reserved for sports,” he said. “(It can be a) training center. We always wanted a training center whether or not we are hosting. But we’re listing down what’s feasible within a two-year period because we’re not sure if we can finish it in a year and a half. But most probably we will have the games in November, so we have more than two years.

“I’m looking at both actually, 2019 (SEA Games) and 2020 (Olympics),” he said. “So the next two years, if we can build the facilities needed, but more than that, build our teams, support our teams, support the groups who are supporting grassroots sports programs, then it will be a good launching the next two years. Then sana tuloy-tuloy na (Hopefully, the program continues).”

They’re also looking at Zambales and Bulacan because of its proximity to Clark. “It’s also the request of the participants. They don’t want to take an airplane ride,” Cayetano said.

“It can possibly be extended to some others, but we’re still talking about it. We won’t be a good host if we don’t consult the other countries about the venues,” he added.

In 2005, the Philippines held the games across the country with heavy hostilities in Manila, Cebu and Bacolod.

(N. Beltran, PS)