A grand opening ceremony for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, officially known as the 30th Southeast Asian Games was held at Philippine Arena on Saturday night, November 30.
This year’s host country, the Philippines, put on a dazzling welcome party with world-class song and dance performances to mark the return of the Southeast Asian Games to its shores, welcoming close to 10,000 athletes and officials from the 11 participating countries to the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
President Rodrigo Duterte himself announced the start of the Games as he formally declared the meet open, with officials vowing to put on the biggest SEA Games in its long 61-year history, both in terms of sports to be staged and participation.
This is the country’s fourth hosting of the SEA Games and the first opening rites to be staged indoors. The show unfolded in 4 suites after Lani Misalucha led the singing of the Philippine National Anthem.
The two-hour ceremony highlights the rich Filipino culture, both the traditional and contemporary through song numbers featuring the best of traditional Pinoy music and OPM songs, and a tribute to the songs of the late ‘Master Rapper’ Francis Magalona. Great folk dance performances, Philippine textile-inspired backdrops, and traditional costumes.
The parade of athletes is the moment when the 11 member countries paraded during the traditional march past of nations. The style was reminiscent of a Santacruzan parade with past Filipina beauty pageant titleholders serving as each country’s muses. 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach served as the muse for the Filipino athletes and officials.
The entrance of the Philippine team draw the loudest cheers as the athletes walked down in their white barong Tagalogs designed by Francis Libiran. Their parade was done with the background music of Hotdogs’ 1976 hit song “Manila.”
The strong Filipino delegation with about 1,400 in numbers was led by flag bearers Margielyn Didal, Eumir Marcial, Meggie Ochoa, and Kiyomi Watanabe, while other delegates waved their miniature Philippine flags.
Pinoy sports legend like Lydia De Vega, Bong Coo, Paeng Nepomuceno, Efren ‘Bata’Reyes, Olympic silver medalist Mansueto Velasco, and Alvin Patrimonio, Eric Buhain, and Akiko Thomson grace at the opening ceremonies and carried the SEA Games Federation flag with them.
Softball’s Francesca Altamonte led the oath of sportsmanship for athletes, while esports official Darren Vitug did the oath for the officials.
House Speaker and Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) chairman Alan Cayetano gave his speech and welcomed the guests followed by Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino.
President Duterte, who sat beside Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei then officially declared the opening of the Games. “I declared open the Southeast Asian Games for the 30th time, celebrating the Games of Southeast Asia. Mabuhay kayong lahat,” he said.
Multi-awarded stage actor Robert Sena later serenaded the delegates with a revised rendition of the first-ever Metropop winning song ‘Kay Ganda ng Ating Musika,’ Black Eyed Peas rapper Apl.de.ap also performed his hit song ‘Bebot.’
To formalize the start of the games, Pinoy boxing legend Manny Pacquiao joined hands with women’s world champion Nesthy Petecio in a pre-taped event of the symbolic lighting of the 10-meter, P55 million cauldron at the New Clark City. It was shown on the massive digital screen at the Philippine Arena.