«

»

Dec 01

All that glitters is the gold

I don’t normally give a rat’s ass about sports, but the Southeast Asian Games are making the headlines. First of all, the focus seems more about the number of medals won, instead of the individual achievements of our athletes: RP gold haul now at 49 is the main focus of too many reports. The result has been the various papers trumpeting that the Thai Prime Minister supposedly accused the Philippines of cheating: Thai official claims RP is cheating -Thaksin can’t believe SEA Games results (Philippine Daily Inquirer); Thai premier hits ‘rigging’ of Games (The Manila Times); SEA Games rigged, Thai PM complains (Manila Standard-Today); RP pulls away despite protests, disqualification (Daily Tribune); Biased judging rap mars RP gold haul (Malaya Newspaper); Don’t blame us–Philsoc to Thaksin (Business Mirror).

All directly or indirectly fan the flames of popular outrage over statements made by the Thai PM. But what did the Thai PM really say? Here’s a roundup of foreign coverage: the Associated Press says Thai premier lashes Philippines for favoring its athletes at Games and Controversies abound in track and field at Southeast Asian Games; the Bangkok Post says PM upset by Games ‘bias’.

In general, Philippine newspapers have been careful to point out that Thaksin never actually said the Philippines cheated: the Inquirer story tries to present this rather nuanced distinction as follows:

Thaksin indicated that the Philippines had made accumulating gold medals a greater priority than upholding the sporting spirit at the 23rd staging of the biennial event, leading to Thai participants losing out in unfair scoring.

“Normally, I have no time to watch sports but I often watched these Games and kept thinking ‘why do results turn out to be that way?’ I don’t know what to say,” he told reporters yesterday.

“I have been following the SEA Games closely and believe that the SEA Games should exist to help athletes lift their standards,” Thaksin said. “It should not be about winning gold medals.”

While Thaksin stopped short of naming the Philippines, he said he was disappointed by the Games and might raise the medal issue on the sidelines of the December summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Malaysia.

The other Philippine papers also made the distinction clear. Was the Thai PM simply smarting over Thai athletes not doing as well as expected, or did he have a concrete basis for his thinking undiplomatically aloud? The real -and troublesome- story, it seems to me, which also explains the Thai PM’s statements, is this one: Buenavista disqualified as Thais rule athletics. The story says,

Cheered by a roaring crowd at the age-old Rizal Memorial Stadium, Buenavista raced wide and into the path of the rallying Thai Boonthung Srisung in a sprinting duel in the last 50 meters to secure the victory.

Thailand immediately put the outcome under protest which officials later upheld…

Representatives from Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei comprised the jury and made their decision in the presence of Maurice Nicholas, the long-time IAAF secretary-general.

Buenavista had a slim lead going into the final 150 meters and raced wide as both runners entered the final bend. Buenavista kept on glancing at the Thai and clearly blocked Boonthung when he tried to pass the Filipino.

That’s foul behavior in sports terms. So we seem to have some chest-thumping by a Thai PM with a basis for suspecting Filipinos of caring more about winning than how they play the game, while taking (unfair) advantage of the Philippines’ political notoriety because of the incumbent president’s political woes. (Update: I neglected to point out Jove Francisco’s comprehensive blogging on the games: Part 1, then Part 2, and Part 3 and Part 4 have it all. Jove has been following the games and is more familiar with people who follow the SEA Games, and so can be trusted to distinguish emotion from the real issues; he points out, for example, that the disqualified Filipino runner, Buenavista, reacted to his disqualification in a very gentlemanly and sportsmanlike manner; he -and comments in his blog- point to cases of unsportsmanlike behavior on the part of some Thai athletes, and the apparent existence of all sorts of controversies involving results in previous SEA Games).

In other news, One in three want to leave for other countries — survey (more on the survey from PCIJ). Garci’s lawyers comment on his appearance before the House, on Garci’s possibly having been a temporary flight steward (What? Uniffors explains), while the disappeared former NBI official Ong may reappear.  The Daily Tribune screams that a controversial ex-Agriculture Department official is back but in hiding. At the rate people are disappearing, surfacing, disappearing again, the whole Garci case is resembling a bumbling game of Whack-a-Mole (play it here).

The Senate President says the Senate may actually consider charter change, while an anonymous government official says the Americans are trying to bribe the Subic rape case complainant.

In the punditocracy, my column for today is Puerto Princesa’s concerns. Max Soliven proclaims Merceditas Gutierrez the best choice for Ombudsman. Tony Abaya puts forward a detailed timeline of Garcillano’s travels; Connie Veneracion is furious over Bayan party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo’s rehabilitating San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito; Fel Maragay writes of the deadline given by the Black and White Movement to the Vice-President (which has expired -the deadline, I mean); Dong Puno grumbles over a tightening up on secondhand vehicle registration taking place only now; Gail Ilagan responds to criticisms over her previous characterizations of GI’s.

In the blogosphere, RG Cruz isn’t sure Garci will appear before the House.  ExpectoRants on coins; Punzi on presidential immunity; kottke.org points to the web release of a free Physics textbook; Big Mango on what the country needs:

The problem with convincing people that you have a better product is saying how different are you from the same class without negatively attacking your competing brand. Its a class act, certainly. Politics and political ideas are no different. What Filipinos need are the following keywords (not necessarily in this order): leadership, vision, professionalism, team building, economy and hope. Anybody who can deliver these things and inspire our people will win the political war and will certainly bring sensibility to our times. Thats the simple and complex answer.

Zenpundit has an apt musing on a statement made by House Speaker Sam Rayburn to House Democrats on the eve of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s landslide victory:

Remember, any jackass can kick over a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one.

Washington Note links to the new US plan for victory in Iraq, and how George W. Bush is apparently trying to debunk arguments made by James Fallows.

For the nicest capsule reviews ever blogged, take a look at The Superblessed Guide to the Philippine Blog Awards Semifinalists Part 3.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

20 comments

4 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. blur

    “… while taking (unfair) advantage of the Philippines’ political notoriety because of the incumbent president’s political woes” i think pretty much sums it up.

    the thaksin matter is really more a reflection on how people, here and abroad, seem to see her as lacking in standing, credibility, and respect.

  2. Carl

    Filipinos just need something to feel good about. And, let’s face it, these SEA games have been very successful so far. It’s not just the medal count, it’s in making Filipinos feel good about themselves. Perhaps sports officials and media have been a little too obsessed with the medal tallies. However, it is only once in a blue moon when we have something to crow about. I hope we can be excused for the excessive display of enthusiasm.

    Personally, I find this exuberant manifestation of national pride much more gratifying than the shameless parading of our dirty linen to the world.

  3. ganns deen

    Mr. Quezon, it is both a pleasure and an honor to be mentioned in your blog. The “nicest capsule reviews ever blogged”? You flatter us, Sir! 🙂 Thanks, and here’s to a stellar Quezon.ph performance at the Philippine Blog Awards – I, for one, am confident your blog will do very, very well. All the best!

  4. sleeping with who

    I am actually disapointed in the coverage..

    I would like to see these sportsmen and women teach the country a lesson or two..

    ONE work really hard and continue.. Dont expect fast glory..

    TWO when you loose lose with a smile, and be happy that you got to compete..

    People forget that being a loser does not equate to having to be sore about it..

    Look at the Thai’s, Other than their president they are all acting like kings, even when they dont get gold.. I am so inspired that they and the others that competed are the kings and Queens of the sports in asia..

    Well Done to them all..

    Why bring up petty gripes.. And he never said that it was cheating or other thing but that it should not be all about the tally count.. Which is correct, It is about being their for the country and trying your best..

    And Karl i wish i had seen the pride where i am, in Makati it is not even mentioned….. Maybe against Binays Propoganda machine to actually shout about something good..

    WELL DONE TO ALL WHO COMPETES..

  5. Erwin Rafael

    ^ uhm…nanonood ka ba ng SEA Games? kelan nag-petty gripe ang mga natalong Pilipino at hindi tinanggap gracefully and kanilang pagkatalo?

  6. a de brux

    National sports fests are always a way – in most cases – of unifying a people, lifting a sagging morale and more importantly, of boosting a sluggish economy.

    A regional or intra-continental sports competition should be an excellent way of treating against the ills that plague a society.

    Back in 1998, France was feeling the pinch of a morose national and worldwide economy. Politically, the nation was divided with an anti-immigration sentiment dominating all forefronts. Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National Party was virtually instigating for a racial divide. He was saying “French First” and even those that were not normally inclined to follow his lead were attracted by his demagoguery.

    Labor unions were staging protests left, right and center. The overall national feeling was dissatisfaction.

    I really can not pinpoint the whys and wherefores for the national malaise but I remember that there was a worldwide economic stagnation at the time.

    However, the World Cup in France changed all that. In an era when national leaders were calling for careful spending, the French spent, shopped and celebrated like there was no tomorrow. What that spending spree did was money circulated; businesses, big and small thrived, employment rose… There were other things that happened but the most important of them all was France united. In one single stroke, the French victory saw politicians, from the extreme right included, and people of all creeds, races, colors, stations in life cry proudly in unison “Vive la France”, “Vive la République”!

    The morosity, the malaise, the sluggishness were all replaced by a national unity unseen in decades. The World Cup drove up the sluggish economy to heights that the country had not witnessed in two decades.

    France proudly displayed, televised its people, its wealth, its culture and its unity to a cumulative audience of 37 billion people worldwide, the largest TV audience in history.

    Handled deftly, the SEA games in the Philippines could galvanize the people into action and heal sick Philippines.

  7. a de brux

    1998 Football World Cup: France’s team became the World Cup champion on July 12!

  8. DJB

    Have a look at this Time Mag article on Shinawatra: Can Shinawatra lead Southeast Asia–Only if he can win over the region’s Muslims
    Maybe some of this went to his head. But on a more substantive note, I am sorely puzzled over why Thailand and Singapore both have FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS with the US, while we keep making wiring harnesses for Malaysian and Japanese cars. Ugh. Our cane sugar could easily kick the butt of the US corn industry. Not only would Philippines be the main supplier of sweeteners to the US, it would CUT the cost of raw sugar to American consumers in half. But no! we’ve never worked for it hard because that would give America unfair economic advantage over us in trade. We must insist on “fair” not “free” trade. As if America needs advantage to compete with us? How come Thailand has one and their economy is zooming to the stratosphere (well zooming).

  9. dodong

    Funny! Even my nephew and nieces have always resort to accusing each other of cheating when they don’t want to lose a game. This Thai PM is acting like a child.

    To accuse Philippines of cheating is just like telling these hardworking non-Filipino referees of sleeping on their job. The Thai PM’s accusation is simply rude to the referees as if they have no business of being there at all.

  10. dodong

    When I read Singapore PM Lee’s statement to carry the execution of Australian drug smuggler despite appeals from the leaders of European Union and Australia, I am reminded once again of the gang rape of Filipina by six young American marines.

    In his unqualified statement, the PM said that the issue here was the right of a sovereign state to apply its own laws to persons who had committed crimes within its jurisdiction.

    With our attitude and hypocrisy, we can never be like Singapore.

  11. Karl

    I heard that The PM offered an apology…
    Maybe remembered the term Thaksinomics…
    The move of JDV to emulate him once by asking for pledges during the China trip
    The tabloid intrigue by the Thai press about his so called accusations was the start of these…He would not allow the Thaiofficials and Thai atheles to be lynched here…

    Now he is sending another delegate

    But Our leader’s response to have the cheating investigated is another turn off from a once blind admirer who once thought who can bring the Philippines out of the tar pits…
    but instead relocated us to a quick sand.

  12. GraySpectrum

    Handled deftly, the SEA games in the Philippines could galvanize the people into action and heal sick Philippines.

    I tend to think, that indeed, the SEA games are being handled rather…. Deftly.

  13. karl

    Now I see a clearer picture…I now appreciate stepping back a bit not sugod ng sugod…

    He noted officiating of every contest is under the supervision and control of the SEAG Federation and its pool of international referees and judges drawn from participating countries and various international sports governing bodies.

    Aventajado clarified no Filipino referees or judges were used in any of the events in which a Filipino athlete was competing.

    President Arroyo earlier ordered an investigation into questions raised by Thailand over the SEAG officiating.

    Mrs. Arroyo said she was concerned by remarks made by Thaksin expressing doubts over officiating in the biennial tournament, in which the Philippines is on top of the medals standings.

    “I’m directing the officials of the games to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into this matter and submit an impartial report within 24 hours,” Mrs. Arroyo said earlier yesterday. “

  14. Karl

    Mirriam called it griping of a loser…..

    look at the mirror madam you might have morning glory

  15. Karl

    Pardon me MLQ for an off tangentt topic related to my arguments with fellow blogers on the brown brother issue

    rewinding back to… that it was the Amaericans who threw out the spaniards not the tagalogs argument…..

    http://www.mb.com.ph/OPED2005120150569.html

  16. Carl

    Here’s an amusing reply regarding the charges of lack of fair play in the SEA games:

    “We have no money to rig the Southeast Asian Games.

    This is the blunt answer of Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association president Go Teng Kok on allegations that the host nation is fixing the results of the 23rd SEA Games in its favor.

    Go said that organizing the SEA Games with meager resources has been a very difficult task for the host, much more rigging the results.

    He also pointed to his no. 1 trackster Eduardo Buenavista failing to win a gold in the games and losing the 5,000-meter title to the board room after he was disqualified by a three-man jury for elbowing second-placer Boonthung Srisung of Thailand.

    “Is this what they call cheating? We lost one gold not in the track, but in a board room. We’re the host, and we’re letting track officials from Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore strip Buenavista of the gold,” said Romasanta.”

    As for fanning national pride, the games have indeed been a huge hit in Cebu, Bacolod and Los Baños. And even in faraway Davao, where the diving divas came from and which, incidentally, makes for a great story line: young girls discovered diving for coins thrown from passenger ships at the local pier, now diving for gold and glory at the SEA games.

  17. Carl

    Here’s an amusing reply regarding the charges of lack of fair play in the SEA games:

    “We have no money to rig the Southeast Asian Games.

    This is the blunt answer of Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association president Go Teng Kok on allegations that the host nation is fixing the results of the 23rd SEA Games in its favor.

    Go said that organizing the SEA Games with meager resources has been a very difficult task for the host, much more rigging the results.

    He also pointed to his no. 1 trackster Eduardo Buenavista failing to win a gold in the games and losing the 5,000-meter title to the board room after he was disqualified by a three-man jury for elbowing second-placer Boonthung Srisung of Thailand.

    “Is this what they call cheating? We lost one gold not in the track, but in a board room. We’re the host, and we’re letting track officials from Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore strip Buenavista of the gold,” said Romasanta.”

    As for fanning national pride, the games have indeed been a huge hit in Cebu, Bacolod and Los Baños. And even in faraway Davao, where the diving divas came from and which, incidentally, makes for a great story line: young girls discovered diving for coins thrown from passenger ships at the local pier, now diving for gold and glory at the SEA games.

  18. a de brux

    MLQ3,

    Do read Max V Soliven’s column 5th Dec 2005…

  19. a de brux

    Ooops! Sorry, forgot to include the link, here it is …

    http://www.philstar.com/philstar/NEWS200512052602.htm

    Thanks.

  20. benj

    most of the events won by the philippines were events that were not dependent on judging. thailand actually wound up with more golds in boxing. I dont know what Thaksin was bitching about.

  1. BY JOVE! » SEA GAMES 2005 (Day 5)

    […] Super bait, Manolo who claims he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about sports, listed a great SEAG round-up, he almost fooled us that he’s not into sports. He can actually dabble on sports writing pala. […]

  2. Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Philippines, Thailand: Sporting Chances

    […] Manuel L. Quezon III digests the brewing controversy over the Thai Prime Minister’s seemingly unsportsmanlike comments regarding the Philippines accumulation of gold medals at the ongoing Southeast Asian Games in Manila. […]

  3. Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Southeast Asian Games

    […] In the Philippines, as the hosts’ gold medal count rose, there was controversy when the Thai prime minister supposedly accused the hosts of cheating and poor sportsmanship. The two countries are also sport rivals, particularly in the sport of boxing. The accusations led to much commentary in Filipino blogs. Torn and Frayed in Manila felt that the Thais were just being sore losers: “‘Pikon’ is a useful Tagalog word meaning something like ‘bad loser.’ There is no direct equivalent in English and I wonder whether there is one in Thai.” Jove Francisco, meanwhile, suggested that the Thai PM was trying to divert attention from his collapsing domestic popularity. […]

  4. Hi there

    Are you there?…

    I would love to hear more about this ……

Leave a Reply