PHNOM PENH—It will be Women’s Power for Team Philippines as it flaunts an almost female athlete-dominated delegation during the parade of nations in the opening ceremony of the Cambodia 23nd Southeast Asian Games on Friday.
Alyssa Valdez, one of the most recognizable female athletes back home, arrived here at dawn, enough time for her to rest from a three-hour red-eye flight from Manila for the opening ceremony where she will be flag-bearer for the second time after the 2015 Singapore Games.
“It’s a privilege and I am overwhelmed by this historic opportunity,” said Valdez, who flew in ahead of the women’s volleyball team that’s due here Saturday.
The opening ceremony starts at 4 p.m. (5 p.m. in Manila) and will be staged at the Morodok Techo Stadium, 60,000-seat structure built in the shape of a “sailing boat” with two sharp structures that reach almost 100 meters in height and surrounded by a moat in the ancient Angkor style.
Located in the outskirts of the Cambodian capital, the stadium was built in August 2017 and completed in August 2021 at a cost of $160 million.
Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino anticipates a warm appreciation for a Team Philippines pulling off a first in SEA Games opening ceremony history with the female-dominated contingent.
“This is a first time—a tribute to women athletes and to the gender equality program of the International Olympic Committee,” said Tolentino, who will be one of only two men who will join the parade besides Chef de Mission Chito Loyzaga.
Deputy Chef de Mission Leonora Escollante will also be in the parade. They will all be wearing elegant Francis Libiran-designed white barongs—which the Philippine fashion icon called “Araw”— over black pants.
Joining the parade are swimming and diving’s Ariana Hanah Drake, Chloe Isleta and Miranda Cristina Renner; athletics’ Aira Teodosio, Jamela de Asis, Jelly Diane Paragile, Ginnah Malapit, Abegail Manzano, Melissa Escoton, Sarah Dequinan, Kristine Knott, Evelyn Palarbica and Natalie Uy; badminton’s Aira Mae Albo and Mikaela de Guzman; basketball’s Clare Castro, Janine Pontejos, Afril Bernardino, Ana Alicia Castillo and Angelica Surada; billiards’ Chezka Centino and Rubelyn Amit; and chess players (ouk chatrang) Janelle Frayna and Shania Mae Mendoza.
Also in the roster are cricket’s Lolita Olaguier and April Rose Saquilon; women’s football’s Sarina Bolden, Jessika Cowart, Quinley Campomanes and Inna Palacios; golf’s Rianne Malixi and Lois Kaye Go; jiu-jitsu’s Andrea Divina, Isabela Montana and Louann Gutierrez; Kun Bokator’s Mariane Mariano and Alyssa Kylie Mallari; obstacle race’s Sandi Menchi Abahan and Marites Nocyao; pencak silat’s Angel-Ann Singh, Shara Julia Jizmundo and Angeline Virina; and table tennis’ Rose Jean Fadol and Sendrina Andrea Balatbat.