Business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan, one of the biggest supporters of Philippine sports, led the list of well-wishers for the London-bound contingent of Filipino athletes to the 2012 Olympics at the official sendoff ceremonies at the Blue Leaf Events Pavilion in McKinley Hill.
“I guess in London 2012, beside the other countries, our contingent is small,” Pangilinan said. “But it’s not a question of numbers but a question of skill and heart.”
He pointed to his alma mater San Beda, whose Red Lions emerged victorious in against Arellano an NCAA game Sunday despite playing with just six players because of suspensions from an off-season incident last year, as an example of heart.
“On our part, we just wish to assure you that we are behind our athletes all the way,” he continued. “So all your efforts in London will be seen and heard by Filipinos both here and globally.”
(InterAKTV is part of InterAksyon.com, the online news site of TV5, which is chaired by Pangilinan.)
The Philippine contingents chef de mission Manny Lopez, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia, Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, and International Olympic Committee representative Frank Elizalde, were among the sports officials who showed in support of the London-bound athletes.
Department of Energy secretary Rene Almendras, Proctor & Gamble Philippines general manager Sumeet Vohra, Bank of the Philippine Islands president and CEO Aurelio Montinola III, and ICTSI chairman and CEO Enrique Razon were also in attendance at the event.
“It took a lot of effort, courage, and determination for them to qualify to become an Olympian,” said Cojuangco. “Whether they win or lose, they will earn the respect of the people that watched them and the people they compete with, that much we can be proud of.”
“In our eyes, you are already winners,” added Vohra. “And we are sure you will make the country proud.”
Almendras, who was present in behalf of President Benigno Aquino III who was scheduled to make an appearance at the ceremony, offered his own words of support to the athletes.
“On a personal note,” he said. “Kayo pong mga atleta na siyang pupunta sa London, ngayon pa lang po panalo na kayo.”
“You can claim as not too many people can claim: you are Olympians.”