OK , sports fans. Let’s write a letter to Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez and his four commissioners -- Ramon Fernandez, Arnold Agustin, Charles Maxey and Celia Kiram.
Make it urgent. Also, personal.
Dear Chairman Ramirez and commissioners Fernandez, Agustin, Maxey and Kiram,
I know we’ve been over this many times before, but with all the urgent changes that now need to be done, it bears repeating.
It’s about sports, of course. You know, the biggest reason why we’re all here.
I do not exactly know how to bring this matter to all of you and when and where it is more convenient. I wanted to take up the issue during the recent PSC Top-Level Consultative Meeting at the Century Park Sheraton Hotel in Vito Cruz.
There’s no better time to talk about sports and the many changes we all need than during the two-day summit attended by top officials from both government and private sectors.
In fairness to your staff, I received an invitation to attend the gathering by email a few days before the event, but I had to excuse myself due to prior commitments.
But as you all know by now, change is needed in sports.
With President Duterte, change is already here less than three months since close to 16 million Filipinos voted overwhelmingly to make him as the country’s highest official.
And as President Duterte’s alter egos in sports, it is imperative that you initiate the much-needed change. Now or never.
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz -- bless her heart -- may have won the country's third silver medal in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro but even that does not take away the fact that a lot is needed to be done en pronto.
You see, Philippine sports is dying. It is like a patient in the intensive care unit of a government hospital. Not dead but badly -- and desperately -- needing medical attention while trying to catch his breath in the emergency room.
You’ve all heard about the “Sick Man of Asia” tag that was once used to describe our country. Well, we’re also now the “Sick Man of Southeast Asia” as far as sports concerned.
You know it very well. Check the facts, if you wish.
In this side of the sports universe, there are more jeers than cheers. Losses far outnumber the victories.
From SEA Games overall champion during the “Miracle of 92” once upon a time in Manila, we’re now happy to finish sixth behind Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and even Singapore in the medal standings. At least, we’re still ahead of Myanmar or Brunei.
Something to think about, right gentlemen and lady?
You remember GM Wesley So and the 2013 Kazan Universiade in Russia?
Maybe you’ve heard all about the heart-warming stories of his dramatic, Armageddon-style victory over GM Zaven Adriassian of Armenia to win the country's first-ever gold medal in the 54-year history of the Universiade.
It was a Universiade gold medal that glitters as bright as the Olympic gold. Exaggerated? Not really.
When So climbed the podium to receive his gold medal and the Philippine flag was carried on stage, the whole chessworld tood in attention. The Russians, considered as the best in the world since the early days of the game, were dumb-founded to watch a Filipino teenager came to their beloved homeland to steal a gold they have always coveted.
The few Filipinos who joined So while he was being mobbed by fellow players and plain well-wishers were speechless.
The feeling was surreal.
I should know. I was there.
And why am I suddenly telling you about this now?
Well, our beloved country lost So, a prized possession that comes only once in a lifetime, in November 2014.
The Filipinos have lost a gold mine mainly because of the indifference of our over-staying and under-performing sports officials, who have embarrasingly turned the historic Rizal Memorial Sports Complex into a ‘Home for the Aged.’
The same holier-than-thou officials turned a blind eye and refused to recognize So ‘s achievement in Kazan for the disgusting reason that they do not approve of the Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines (FESSAP).
FESSAP, the local governing body recognized by FISU and headed by businessman David Ong, was the one which sent So to Kazan, all-expenses paid.
Unlike Diaz and all other athletes who brought honors to the country, So did not get a single centavo. Not even a congratulatory message.
Now, you ask me how good this chess player So is?
I say he’ s so good he can be as unstoppable as tomorrow. A future world champion, perhaps.
And now he plays for the United States even though he still wears his barong tagalog during awarding ceremony.
Are you still with me?
The same know-it-all officials even sent a three-man delegation to Kazan to try to stop So, the swimmers under Philippine Swimming League (PSL) of former Sen. Nikki Coseteng and Susan Papa snd other Filipino athletes from competing. Imagine Filipinos bad-mouthing fellow Filipiinos during the FISU General Assembly attended by more than 200 member-nations.
Of course, they did not succeed. The gods of sports know better. It was affirmed: FESSAP is to FISU what the POC is to IOC.
I am really glad to know that you’re taking your roles in the government sports agency seriously. You're reaching out and talking to as many people in the sports world possible. You’re looking very deep into the real problems that affect the performances of our athletes and trying to find a win-win solution.
The PSC Consultative Meeting is a good way to get the ball rolling, so to speak.
And by this time I'm sure you already know that politics in sports is as much a problem as lack of funding.
You should know by now that officials of the so-called Old Boys Club who run sports like a private playground should now be replaced by young and action-oriented leaders.
You should know by now that the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius and Fortius, or Faster, Higher and Stronger should also be applied not only in the selection of athletes but also of officials.
So let’s make no mistake about it. President Duterte put all of you there to do the job. You come with the great responsibility to put things in order. You have to crack the whip and do whatever is necessary to achieve the change we all wanted.
You can do it. Just do it.