MANILA, Philippines -- For Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman and chef de mission William "Butch" Ramirez, there is more to celebrate in the 30th Southeast Asian Games than the golden haul of Filipino athletes.
Ramirez said the biennial meet showed what unity can do for the country that was burdened by negativity and differences at the start of the Games.
He noted that the competition awakened a sense of patriotism among the Filipinos, who were one in cheering for the athletes despite the result of their events.
"Almost to the final stretch, and I am grateful to God for the steady performance of our team," Ramirez said.
"More than the medal haul, I am thankful for all the sacrifice and hard work that went behind pushing their chances for a shining moment of victory," he added.
The Philippines has already collected 229 medals as of 1 p.m. on Sunday, with 90 golds, 68 silvers, and 71 bronzes. The hosts are runaway leaders in the medal table, with Indonesia following in second with a 54-49-68 haul.
Vietnam is in third with a 48-53-65 count.
While Ramirez touted the medals won by the Filipino athletes, he also shed light on the "stories beyond the victories."
"Having the privilege of being both the PSC chairman and the chef de mission, I am witness to the many beautiful stories behind this event, and given a glimpse into the legacies that the SEA Games will leave," he said.
"The gains from this event does not end when the curtains comes down on the 30th SEA Games edition. On top of the victories, there are many long-term advantages — legacies — the SEA Games gifted us with," he added.
The sports official believes that after the SEA Games, the Philippines will have a wide pool of athletes seeking to follow the footsteps of icons like Hidilyn Diaz, Caloy Yulo, EJ Obiena, and other world-class Filipino sports stars.
Ramirez also praised the volunteers for their efforts.
"Sports instills values like discipline, dedication and respect for others -- values needed for a healthier society -- a mandate of the PSC," he said.
"It awakened the bayanihan spirit and volunteerism among us. The very spirit shown by the heroism of Roger Casugay who gave up his chance for a golden finish to save an opponent at risk of losing his life to the very waves they play in. Truly a class act. a solid show of Filipino spirit," he added.
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