A festival of lights, sound and music depicting Filipino culture, physical dexterity and competitive spirit will be the centerpiece themes of the 30th Southeast Asian Games’ opening ceremonies Saturday at the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, the first time the biennial meet commences in an indoor venue.
The hour-and-half spectacle, which begins at 7 p.m., will feature four major productions, each of which contains a musical performance, a dance and a textile-inspired backdrop.
The show will be directed by Palanca award-winning writer and director Floy Quintos, who will be working with National Artist for Music and Ramon Magsaysay Awardee Ryan Cayabyab, US-based Filipino companies Video Sonic and Stage Craft International Inc. and live content creator FiveCurrents, a 14-time Emmy Awardee, which produced the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies.
The performers will be led by international rap artist Apl d Ap of the Black Eyed Peas, singers Lani Misalucha (who will sing the Philippine National Anthem), Robert Sena, KZ Tandingan, Christian Bautista, Aicelle Santos, Jed Madela, Elmo Magalona, the TNT Boys, Iñigo Pascual and Ana Fegi, together with folk dancers Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, and hundreds of students from at least 12 different schools and colleges in Metro Manila.
The parade of athletes will be led by 11 beauty queens representing the participants of the games, with 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach being the Philippines’ muse.
Lea Salonga, who sang the games’ theme song “We Win As One,” will not be in attendance as she is out of the country for the musical “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”.
Six athletes minus gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxer Nesthy Petecio will do the flag-bearing duties for the Philippine delegation.
Then, six sports greats led by Lydia de Vega-Mercado will carry the SEA Games Federation flag.
After that, boxing great Manny Pacquiao and Petecio will take care of the torch-bearing activities when the games are officially declared open.
The Team Philippines’ flagbearers include weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, jiujitsu fighter Meggie Ochoa, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, boxer Felix Eumir and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe.
Mercado, who delivered honors for the country as sprinter in the instances that she represented the country in the SEA Games, will be joined by bowlers Paeng Nepomuceno and Bong Coo, long jumper Elma Muros and boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco.
Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee Chairman Alan Peter Cayetano said lighting of the actual cauldron situated in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac “will be a surprise.”
Meanwhile, the presence of all 11 competing nations in the 30th Philippine SEA Games was formally recognized on Friday morning during simple flag-raising ceremonies held at the plaza of the Athletes Village at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.
The delegations were welcomed by Athletes’ Village Mayor Arrey Perez, Bases Conversion Development Authority vice president for Business Development, according to Team Philippines deputy chef de mission Stephen Fernandez.
All present and accounted for were the contingents from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam, and the host Philippines, he said, adding that the colors of the respective countries were raised in alphabetical order.
“Of course as the host, the Philippine was the last country to raise the national flag. It was a very simple program with the either the chief of mission or deputy chief of mission leading the respective delegations,” said Fernandez, who represented Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez, the national team chef de mission.
He bared that he showed up at the flag-raising rites together with some arnis athletes, who are already billeted at the Village, and members of the medical staff.
“There was an exchange of tokens, while Perez gave an inspirational talk, reminding everyone of maintaining the spirit of fair play and sportsmanship when the actual competition begins and urging everyone in making the SEA Games a success,” Fernandez recalled.
“We expect a lot of athletes and officials to start streaming into the Athletes Village today,” said the deputy CDM, baring that aside from the aquatics and athletics squads other campaigners vying in neighboring Pampanga will also be quartered at the NCC Athletes Village.
“The men’s and women’s softball teams have begun moving in and the other athletes who will be seeing action in Pampanga will also have their quarters here.”