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The problem with Philippine

After the Philippine delegation returned from its fourth Olympics in a row with no medals,
Rappler searches for answers to the sorry state of sports
MANILA, Philippines - The Olympics have come and gone and yet again, the Philippines has failed to
rank among the world's best.
For the fourth Olympics in a row, Filipino athletes were unable to take home a medal of any color for the
country, the last having been boxer Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco who won a silver in Atlanta in 1996.
In over 20 Olympic Games since 1924, the Philippines has won a dismal 9 medals -- 2 silvers and 7
bronzes. This record is only one medal more than the record 8 medals won by the Philippines' neighboring
country Thailand in one Olympics.
Only in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics did the country win more than one medal in the Games. In LA, the
Philippines won 3 bronze medals in 3 different sports -- athletics, boxing and swimming.
Exactly 90 years later, the LA Games is still the most successful Olympics the country has ever had, with
the state of sports in the Philippines having appeared to worsen rather than improve over the decades.
In the 2005 Southeast Asian Games, the Philippines came out on top, besting its 10 other neighbors and
bagging 281 medals. By 2011, the Philippines finished a dismal 6th of 11, with its measly 169-medal haul.
So what is the matter with Philippine sports?
No vision
Filipinos love sports.
The whole country joins Manny Pacquiao when he gets in the ring. The Philippines fell in love with football
quickly and hard when the Azkals came along. And there is a basketball court in practically every
barangay across the nation.
We aren't short on passion, and neither do we lack talent. So what is it that is making us fail so miserably?
Just two days after the end of the Games, Sen Francis Pangilinan pushed for a review of the effectiveness
and efficiency of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).
The PSC is the government's funding arm primarily tasked with helping the development of amateur
sports in the country, while the POC is a private, non-government related organization recognized by the
International Olympic Committee as the sole agency in the Philippines responsible for athletes competing
in the Olympics and other international competitions.

Then PSC chairman Phillip Ella Juico has since said that Ramos instructed the PSC to pull out all stops to back the Philippine Olympic team. We must prepare our athletes for the pressure of competing on a global scale and do all that we can to provide them the necessary tools and skills to ensure victory."Representing the country is a huge undertaking. There's no effort to develop these. which has shown in the Philippine team's results at international competitions. a sports lover and practicioner." Effort. who knows sports just isn't a priority of the country. training. he's not a sportsman. emphasized the need for a holistic approach to athlete preparation that would make them competitive in the world stage." said Nathanielsz. "With all due respect to President Aquino. "Our athletes. vision Nathanielsz. Food. said Nathanielsz. The lack of it from the government is the main problem. we lack nutrition." he told Rappler. signed Executive Orders 63 and 64 that mandated the creation of Physical. he pointed to the need for proper diet and psychological readiness -." Pangilinan said in a statement. comes from vision. Sports analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz agrees with Pangilinan. who has been covering Philippine sports since 1963. Ramos. Not since Fidel V. Presidents after Ramos have put little emphasis on sports. Fitness and Sports Development Councils (PFSDC) to promote physical education and sports programs and competitions on a national scale. Aside from the right training. Ramos has there been a president that has given much attention on sports. he maintained. There are certain minimum standards that we must always strive to achieve if we want the rest of the world to take us seriously in sports. The nation shows no hesitation in pointing their fingers at one direction when it comes to the country's failure in sports: most feel the government is to blame. we lack physical and mental conditioning. "How can you be mentally strong if you're not physically strong? We don't have training facilities. "Sending delegates to international competition is akin to sending diplomats to foreign countries. It was also during his term that the Philippines last won an Olympic medal." he added. . "He's not athletic." Not a priority PSC chairman Ricardo Garcia knows that the present administration does not rank sports on the top of its list.all of which work together to enhance performance.

Accusations of mishandled funds and power struggles between heads of NSAs. NOT ENOUGH. energy that will have much more priority than sports. Although Singapore is not a major world player in sports. it also marked the first time it took home a medal in two consecutive Olympics. Singapore sent 23 athletes to compete in 9 different sports. Questionable leadership The lack of government prioritization appears to perpetuate yet another problem: destructive politics among sports agencies.” he said in a Philippine Star interview. according to the Singapore government website. In London 2012. A recent clash illustrates the problem perfectly. the recent investment of the government in sports has paid off. it was far from enough. which resulted in NSAs having to face the court. the country nabbed its second Olympic medal in history. According to Garcia. The lack of attention given to sports is evident in the negligible budget the government allots for athletic development. PSC was given P400 million.“Any form of advice that will come from the PSC will come out as negative. after the former failed to report to the PSC and liquidate millions of pesos in advances. Singapore did not only double their medal count from 2008 after winning 2 bronze medals also in women's table tennis. Singapore has a population of 5 million while the Philippines is a country of 90 million. In the 2008 Beijing Olympics. because right now our government has more pressing problems. like housing. President Benigno Aquino III attended the opening ceremonies of Palarong Pambansa but government support for sports is far from enough. when the women's table tennis team took home the silver. Singapore received a total budget of P7. In comparison. the PSC and the POC have been widespread for years. In 2011. NSA chiefs butted heads with ex-PSC chairman Harry Angping. security.4 billion for sports alone in 2011. which has opened up a controversial POC-PSC partnership. The POC allegedly led a movement to take Angping out of power and put Garcia in position. Not long ago. Still. more than double 2010's dismal budget of P154 million. budget proposals from the country's 53 national sports associations (NSA) that year alone reached P600 million. its first as an independent nation after 48 years. . compared to the Philippines' 11-man delegation in 8 sports despite having 18 times more people.

Garcia himself has also reportedly admitted he became chairman because of POC chief Peping Cojuangco. where swimmers also enjoy strong support from the government and good coaches.or perhaps chosen to turn a blind eye -. they come out with excellent programs and ideas until one month from today when it all subsides then we're all back to politics -. he said. then back to PSC -. 2011. He cited the need for new leaders with fresh ideas. even if you do make it a priority." Athletes' woes Athletes themselves agree that there is still much that the government and sports agencies have left to do. It's he said he would. the PSC and the POC. the problem is it boils down to leadership. August 9. He emphasized that it doesn't take a couple of years to build an Olympian. while his co-swimmer . Taken by Den Victoria. NSAs. Accountability. They use political names. "[After the Olympics]." He added. As dirty as politics are in sports. private sector and the athlete.on holding anyone accountable. And the administration has failed -. A member of the Philippine Dragon Boat Team that competed in Tampa. elections of POC. "There is politics in sports and it's very strong. numerous NSAs have still not been able to adequately liquidate financial assistance they received from the government. and that the country should start planning longterm if it was serious about succeeding in sports. "It's true when they say there's no space for politics in sports. the worst part is this: athletes have been caught in the middle of such disputes. "At the end of the day. they use their own clout to stay in office. if someone felt they could do a better job than him -. Who can execute it better? It takes a whole community to do that -.elections of new NSA heads. as was the case with the Philippine Dragonboat Team controversy..and suggested a sort of revamp.Today. with some being deprived of financial support or being barred from competing in international competitions. and there should be more of it among sports leaders in the NSAs. government. starts on top. Olympic swimmer Jessie Lacuña told Rappler he wishes the country had facilities like those of Singapore.and I bet you that's what's going to happen. it's leadership.." Vargas refused to mention names but said he wished that leaders had the decency to resign when needed -." Vargas said. NO SUPPORT.POC. We should be accountable for what we do. told Rappler that one of the major problems pulling sports down is leadership and widespread politics. and said that blaming NSAs completely for the failure of their athletes misses the larger picture. "We're all saying the same things." he said. Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) president Ricky Vargas. PSC. they [the leadership] use the same political savvy to stay in office. who heads what many believe is the most successful NSA in the country.

Swimmer Jessie Lacuña expressed his wishes that the state of Philippine sports would improve. various politicians have shown an interest in prioritizing sports. pushed to abolish the PSC under Senate Bill 3092. that it has been a difficult journey because of the country's limited resources." Looking for change Beyond the sorry state of sports in the nation." he said. he told Rappler he is working closely with the PSC and know that athletes need better nutrition including vitamins and supplements. In an email. "We are trying to make the most out of what we got. WISHING FOR MORE. the country's biggest amateur sports competition. but I think we should build up more centers like the sports facilities in Laguna.Jasmine Alkhaldi admitted before going to London. what needs change is the lack of government support. he stressed that rather than a review of the POC and PSC tenets. POC president Cojuangco. What they propose is always for change but they never mention what kind of change is necessary. Sports is not only winning of medals but also an integral part of growing our citizens properly. . and a training center where athletes can be quartered. Trillanes wants the head of the sports department to have a cabinet member position. Sen Antonio Trillanes IV. the good news is that some government officials are aware of the problem. "What is needed to be revised is the value that the government will give to sport. who has been in his position for almost 8 years. Angelica De Josef of WVRAA competes barefoot at the Palarong Pambansa 2012. I hope we can finally make a decision on what we want to do with our sports. where you can train and go to school so you can focus on sport. In June. as close to the President as possible. to help prioritize sports development and influence his decisions. He also looks to create an Amateur Sports Development Bureau committed to grassroots initiatives and another bureau to focus on athletes' training for international meets. chairman of the Senate Committee for Sports. is aware there is still much to be done. Aside from Pangilinan." she said. citing the lack of budget allotted to sports. However. The importance that we will give to it in respect to our way of life. "Like in every international competition that we participate in we have these so called 'experts' criticizing our performance without giving any positive suggestions. which seeks to create the Department of Sports. fed and supervised by coaches. and appears to have had enough. NO SHOES. Team Dexter Palaro Coverage 2012.

" she said. have also continued to throw their support behind a bill that aims to construct a Philippine High School for Sports (PHSS). Private funding So far. . maraming makakatapos sa college (I believe that if we truly prioritize sportsm many will be veered away from drugs. there are so many more youths to help and we can be competitive internationally. the PSC selected 10 sports to focus on and fund: archery. even if basketball is not part of the 10 disciplines given government priority. athletics. because of its popularity and the passion of Filipinos towards it.Triathlete and Sen Pia Cayetano as well as Aurora Rep Sonny Angara. FOCUS ON ARCHERY. it can survive. one thing that Aquino has implemented in the field of sports is focus on disciplines that Filipinos excel in and are most likely to produce Olympic champions. weightlifting. citing the Azkals as the perfect example. as it should. boxing. According to Reyes. bowling. Angara is one of 28 co-authors of the bill that is close to becoming a law. billiards. Chot Reyes.' Given the directive to choose. most experts agree this is the best solution given the country's limited resources. Cayetano told Rappler that she cannot really say she has seen significant improvements in sports since Aquino took power. he encouraged sports heads to look at private sectors and find funding elsewhere. Archery is one of the ten sports the government has chosen to focus on. wrestling and wushu. While it is ideal that the government financially backs sports development in the country. which will offer outstanding student-athletes scholarships and athletic and academic development. swimming. He has committed P200 million to what is coined the 'focus sports policy. and that even without government support. "Naninwala ako na kung talagang bigyan nating pansin and sports. maraming malalayo sa drugs. "I think it is high time that government starts seriously supporting sports programs." she said. taekwondo. The men's Philippine basketball team coach. he said. But he also insisted that other sports could work towards achieving the same status. During Aquino's 2012 State of the Nation Address. a sport's popularity or lack of funding should not be a detriment in an NSA's desire to develop it. many will finish college). While it sacrifices other sports somewhat. Reyes knows that basketball is a different beast altogether. said he thinks it is a good idea. "If we just had a better plan for this." Cayetano also admitted that the government lacks vision on where it wants to see sports go.

no heroes welcome. after the Philippine Football Federation looked for outside . pointing to the quick development of the previously ignored sport of largely due to his agency's individual efforts in developing grassroots programs. Vargas agreed with Reyes. He said their 3-year-old grassroots efforts. he said. recruited players and built up their program.Rappler. Azkals wave the Philippine flag after their game against LA Galaxy in front of a packed stadium. Politicians and sports leaders understand the need for a clearer vision for sports -. Now."For the other sports. Pinoy pride When the Philippine Olympic delegation came home to the Philippines. do your job. and increased funding. brought in a new manager. They know what's wrong. my thinking is. will they do it? ." he said. one that will continue unless the administration decides to prioritize sports development." he said. don't just complain. saying that part of ABAP's success -.the importance of grassroots initiatives. "The NSAs who get their act together and get their job done are able to do wonders for their sport. This lack of praise is telling of the minimal value given to sports by the Philippine government. but the question is. largely funded by private sectors. 2011. no celebration. They know political bickering is dragging down the ability of sports to progress. and that athletes are suffering. accountability. Rupert Ambil. new institutions to focus on athletic development.which has been named NSA of the year several times -. were responsible for producing the 2012 Philippine Olympic team's biggest name: Mark Anthony Barriga. PINOY PRIDE. they know what to do. most Filipinos did not even know they were back. football is a sport many private entities are eager to finance. December 3. There was no fanfare.