The Sorry State of Philippine Sports

The infamous "Splash Brothers". Screen grabs from Sports Singapore.

One of the most anticipated sports event in this region, the 28th SEA Games in Singapore, had been recently concluded. And despite the previous forecasts for the Philippines; that we might land in the third or fourth place overall, our teams came up with relatively paltry results in the region: we landed sixth of the eleven competing Southeast Asian countries. Ahead of us in the rankings are Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

This biennial event also became memorable because of the infamous viral video of Pinoy divers John Elmerson Fabriga and John David Pahoyo. The two divers became internet sensations because of their cringe-worthy flops during the men’s single diving events, where they scored zeros in the men’s 3-meter springboard competition last week. Both divers claimed that they only had four days to practice for the event.

The infamous "Splash Brothers". Screen grabs from Sports Singapore.
The infamous “Splash Brothers”. Screen grabs from Sports Singapore.

Sure, our cagers and boxers maintained dominance in the region, but in other fields we’re not as good as we think we are. We fell short of our predictions of 50 gold medals; and instead, came up with only 29 golds. It goes to show how little support our athletes are getting for their trainings. Those two Johns are no exception.

No wonder we don’t get a shot for those colored medals in the past four straight Olympics. In fact, our last best Olympic showing was 90 years ago in the Los Angeles Games where we bagged three medals. And now, the question remains: How can we revive Philippine sports?

More than just a self-loathing, I believe that the Philippine government had been ignoring the cry of our athletes for quite a long time already. The last time we had a president who took sports seriously was FVR.

While this country should have tapped on the huge potential of our Filipino athletes, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Olympic Committee seemed not to be doing their job of helping this become a reality. Rumors of mismanagement and power struggles between heads of the PSC, POC, and of NSA (National Sports Association) have been widespread for years now. Talk aboutpalakasan.

One of our very few Olympic medals: This one is from 1964.
One of our very few Olympic medals: This one is from 1964.

I had the chance of talking to last year’s bronze medalist in the Asian Games for taekwondo, Mary Anjelay Pelaez. She told me that her fellow athletes need international exposures and better facilities in order to effectively compete with our Asian neighbors. She revealed to me that up to this day, our athletes are still allowed to train at the dilapidated 86-year old Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

The blog author with Filipina jin and Asian Games bronze medalist, Mary Anjelay Pelaez. Photo taken in 2014.
The blog author with Filipina jin and Asian Games bronze medalist, Mary Anjelay Pelaez. Photo taken in 2014.

Anjelay’s observation is correct; in fact, our country devotes a measly sum for sports development. To check some figures, Singapore’s annual budget for sports is about 7 billion pesos – the PSC, on the other hand, allocates only 750 million annually.

Sports is a wonderful thing; it has the power to inspire individuals and uplift them from their current situation. It is an organized and competitive physical activity requiring fair play, will power, and unity. All those last three qualities this developing country greatly needs.

As for the not-so-satisfying rank in the Southeast Asia, it’s not enough to just require our athletes to bag the gold medals without adequate support and funding from the government. Our athletes need nutrition, physical and mental conditioning, among others.

We’ve been talking a lot about Filipino Pride, it’s high time to back that huge braggadocio up. Are we waiting for Timor-Leste to finally catch up with us?

(A repost of the blog entry on the recent Philippine performance at the 28th SEA Games originally posted at the PoliTikalon Blog:

About politikalonblogger

JR Lopez Gonzales is a political and socio-commentary blogger from Mindanao since 2009. He earned his Bachelor of Laws degree from the Mindanao State University while he earned his BA Political Science degree from MSU-IIT with flying colors in 2009. He blogs at He writes a column at the US-based website, The Global Filipino. He has written for ABS-CBN News,CNN iReport, Rappler, and GMA News among others. His Twitter is @JRJRGon; and his YouTube Channel is at
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