Pres. Duterte to grace 30th SEA Games opening at PHL Arena after bilateral meet with Brunei’s Sultan Bolkiah

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte answers queries from the members of the media after leading the awarding ceremony for the 2019 Model Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Family of the Year Award (MOFYA) at the Malacañan Palace on November 28, 2019. VALERIE ESCALERA/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO


(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte is set to attend the 30th Southeast Asian Games opening later today, Saturday, Nov. 30, at the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena at the Ciudad de Victoria in Bocaue, Bulacan.

But before going to the the SEA Games opener, he is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Brunei leader Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah whose son, Prince Abdul Mateen, and daughter, Princess Azemah, are members of Brunei’s polo team competing in the SEA Games.

The Sultan’s nephew, Faiq Jefri Bolkiah, is also the captain of Brunei’s men’s football squad.

Bolkiah is also expected to attend the SEA Games opening to show support for the regional sports event.

(File photo) This handout photo released on October 17, 2016 by the Brunei Informations Department shows Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (R) and Philippiness President Rodrigo Duterte (2nd L) walking together during Duterte’s official welcoming ceremony at the Istana Nurul Iman in Brunei. / AFP PHOTO / Brunei Informations Department / STR /

The closed-door meeting between President Duterte and Sultan Bolkiah will be held in Malacanang.

President Duterte will then proceed to the Philippine Arena, dubbed as the world’s largest mixed-use indoor theater,  where the best of Philippine culture will be showcased through spectacular performances at the historic opening of the 30th Southeast Asian Games

-We Win as One-

With the theme, “We Win as One,” the SEA Games opener is a production of magnificent proportions with the collaboration of the Philippine team and a foreign group — the Emmy-award winning live content creator FiveCurrents.

They will be directing and supervising the production numbers of various Philippine artists, production companies, youth groups and different organizations that will highlight the Filipino spirit of “Bayanihan.”

It is a performance meant to inspire, and serve as a proud moment for all Filipinos around the world once again, according to organizers.

The opening ceremonies at the Philippine Arena will also be the first-ever indoor opening event for SEA Games.  For the first time, state-of-the-art digital technology will be used, according to Ramon “Tats” Suzara, chief operating officer of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC).

“These are new technologies that never happened before. Lahat ng opening ceremonies natin dati puro outdoor so this will be the first time that we will be doing this indoors in the history of the SEA Games,” Suzara said.

“And we are doing a digital-type of opening ceremony,” he added as another unique feature of the 30th SEA Games opening ceremonies at the Philippine Arena.

The presentation of Filipino culture at its best will be led and supervised by the Philippine team-up of Palanca award-winning writer Floy Quintos and national artist for music maestro Ryan Cayabyab, collaborating with Libby Hyland of FiveCurrents who has had experience in various opening ceremonies of international sports events.

While organizers are keeping close to their chests, surprises to be shown at the Philippine Arena, they said this has something to do with the lighting of the SEA Games cauldron located miles away in Capas, Tarlac.

Courtesy 2019 SEA Games Facebook page

Organizers advised those who would want to watch the SEA Games opening ceremonies to avail of the P2P or Point to Point buses going to the Philippine Arena.

The spectators should be there before 3 p.m., as the area is expected to be locked down between 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. for President Duterte’s arrival.

-Duterte orders distribution of free tickets for most of SEA Games events-
President Duterte has also ordered that tickets for most of the SEA Games events be made available to the public for free.

Only the games for basketball, volleyball, and football where Philippine team is playing would not be provided free since the tickets for these have already been sold out, according to PHISGOC chairperson and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

At saka gusto mo man na ilibre lahat, saan mo ilagay? Pero ‘yung iba alam mo ang Pilipino, kawawa naman ‘yung walang pera. Gusto ko tabla. Kung sino lang ‘yung may tiyaga magtindig doon para maghintay ‘pag open ng gates. Basta do it with discipline,” he said in a recent interview with media.

Cayetano said that “upon instructions of the President,” PHISGOC will be releasing 10,000 tickets to the public.

-Duterte assures through probe of SEA Games snafus-

President Duterte also apologized for whatever inconveniences encountered by ASEAN athletes as he assured the public of a thorough investigation on reported snafus in the first few days of the preparation for the country’s hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which started when the foreign athletes started arriving in the country.

“I’m really apologizing for the country… they (other nations) should know while they are still here that the government is not happy,” Duterte said in an interview that aired Friday.

“You cannot just cast away all those — the discomfort, the sufferings of the athletes, sleeping on the floors, getting hungry,” he added. “To the countries that sent them here, it’s a big deal.”

The President said he may have to form a task force composed of retired Commission on Audit (COA) auditors, lawyers, and prosecutors for the investigation, in a recent interview with the media.

“If I have to investigate, I will take in people who have retired from the COA and some lawyers, some prosecutors. ‘Yung iba, ‘yung mga fraternity brothers ko,” the President said.

He also said that Cayetano would have to answer to problems that the hosting is currently facing, noting however that he is sure the PHISGOC chair is not involved in corruption.

The President pointed out that “lack of foresight” of the organizing team may have contributed to the predicament that the country’s hosting is facing.

If he had options, he said he would have designated former military officials to act as planners to handle the events.

“They are better organizers because the entire Armed Forces is one big organization and they are trained to be structural in thinking,” the President said of the military officials.

-Incentives for PHL athletes-

But he said that for now, all Filipinos should unite in supporting the country’s athletes competing in the games.

President Duterte said he would give incentives to Filipino athletes who will win medals in the SEA Games.

The SEA Games will be held from November 30 to December 11.