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:


  1. I don’t want to be over critical of the failure of others.

    Sports is all about competition & achieving excellence not Mediocrity, Sympathy or awa. So why send/assign somebody who obviously has no skill, consistency, or not fit for the job required? palakasan or padrino system, Filipino Pride and Mediocrity is reason why we are stagnant.

    I’m aware that sharing or showing the video like the Mamasapano massacre, are distasteful or inappropriate.
    But if you think deeply, we need to show it to rectify the problem and improve things. It’s actually show we care and merely concern that something is not right in our sports or society. As citizen & tax payer, its better to voice out our protest or disapproval than show Apathy or not care/ no reaction to wrong doings and bad things.

    For me I can’t blame how people reacted. Maybe they felt ASHAMED being represented by an INCOMPETENT athlete or CHEATED why or how did this guy qualified and our government spent money on him. Again palakasan or padrino system at pwede na yan.

    Problems in Sports is a clear reflection of our Government, Politics, Society and our Leaders (both private or public).

    1. Puro PUSO wala na UTAK. Parang Smart Gilas or Sympathy Vote kay Cory, PNoy, sunod si Grace Poe o Ramon Revilla o Jinggoy Estrada. Mahilig kase Pinoy sa Drama at Teleserye.

    2. “Pwede na yan! (That will do!) – This kind of thinking makes us content with mediocrity. Whenever we say pwede na yan, we’re saying I’m ok with so-so products & services, I’m ok with low quality or mediocre output. We all deserve better than that from ourselves & from others. ”

    “Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius”- Arthur Conan Doyle

    Sino ang nag-training, nagpadala at namili ng mga ipapadala sa SEAG
    Our government was responsible for sending him and wasting our hard earn (30% tax) money.

    Just observe, all our problems transportation, corruption, stupid & unqualified government officials are somehow LINK to each other.
    Bulok na athlete
    Bulok na Presidente
    Bulok na Government
    Bulok na Politico
    Bulok na Congress
    Bulok na Leaders
    Bulok na MRT
    Bulok na Internet speed
    Bulok na transportation
    Bulok na Airport
    Bulok na Public Service

    Awards & recognitions in Sports Competition or any award giving body are meant to encourage all people to strive for excellence (to be strong, intellectual/genius) NOT spread hypocrisy, Sympathy or awa (avoid being weak, dumb/stupid).

    Our SEAG athlete serve as ROLE models to people especially our youth. They need to be winners, show positive things and not be loser or weak.

  2. We have athletes with great potentials but are wasted because of poor guidance and financial support. And though I would like to deny the fact that a common “snatcher” can run faster than our sprinters, I have seen so much of them in my life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.