TEAM Philippines basks in the glory of its stirring triumph in the 30th Southeast Asian Games as it will be feted with the highest honor by the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) in a special rite tonight.
Bannered by world champion and double gold winner Carlos Yulo, women’s world boxing champion Nesthy Petecio, and Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, the Philippine contingent is the recipient of the coveted Athlete of the Year award as it leads a huge cast of sports stars and personalities who are going to be recognized in the SMC-PSA Annual Awards Night at the Centennial Hall of the historic Manila Hotel.
Top sports officials led by Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino, International Olympic Committee (IOC) representative to the country Mikee Cojuangco Jaworski, and Deputy House Speaker and NorthPort team owner Mikee Romero join the country’s oldest media organization headed by president Tito S. Talao, sports editor of the Manila Bulletin, in paying tribute to the men and women who did the country proud in their respective fields in the year just passed.
The revered Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes, a part of the Filipino delegation to the SEA Games even at 65 years of age, serves as special guest speaker in the gala night presented by the PSC, MILO, and Cignal TV. The legendary pool icon will likewise be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Philippine sportswriting fraternity.
A record medal haul of 149 golds, 117 silvers, and 121 bronzes helped the host country win the overall title of the biennial meet just for the second time in its 42 years of participation in the SEA Games, a collective effort that gained the entire Team Philippines the nod as recipient of the prestigious Athlete of the Year trophy in the two-hour program also supported by the Philippine Basketball Association, AirAsia, and Rain or Shine.
Citations will be given to all gold medal winners in the meet as it made up the bulk of the close to 200 awardees comprising the 2019 honor roll list.
Also invited in the annual event to be hosted by veteran broadcaster Sev Sarmenta and Rizza Diaz, is House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, chairman of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc).
Yulo, who earned a berth to the Tokyo Olympics after becoming the first Filipino and male gymnast from Southeast Asia to win a gold in the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, is likewise going to be accorded with the President’s Award, while Chairman Ramirez will be honored with the Executive of the Year for serving as Chef De Mission of Team Philippines in the SEA Games.
The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) headed by president Ricky Vargas, is set to receive the National Sports Association (NSA) of the Year title, while special awards are to be given to Thirdy Ravena and Jack Danielle Animam (Mr. and Ms. Basketball), Bryan Bagunas and Sisi Rondina (Mr. and Ms. Volleyball), Bianca Pagdanganan (Ms. Golf), Stephan Schrock (Mr. Football), and a first ever Coach of the Year to multi-titled women’s mentor Patrick Aquino.
A separate MILO Junior Athlete of the Year will be handed out to the quartet of Alex Eala, Daniela Dela Pisa, Miguel Barreto, and Daniel Quizon, while the Philippine men’s 3x3 basketball team will be recognized with the Chooks-To-Go Fan Favorite award.
Diaz and Petecio meanwhile, banner the list of major awardees that also include Tokyo Olympic qualifier and Asian Athletics Championships gold winner Ernest John Obiena, world boxing champions Jerwin Ancajas and Johnriel Casimero, five-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, five-time Philippine Cup champ San Miguel Beer, undefeated six-time UAAP women’s basketball title holder NU Bulldogs, golfers Juvic Pagunsan, Princess Superal, and Aidric Chan, and Horse of the Year Union Bell.
Swimmers Micaela Jasmine Mojdeh and Marc Bryant Dula join Eala and six others as recipient of the Tony Siddayao awards, named after the late Manila Standard sports editor Tony Siddayao, acknowledged as the Dean of Philippine sportswriting, and given out to young and promising athletes 17-years-old-and-below.
Likewise to be remembered with a prayer and a minute of silence are dearly departed athletes, officials, and friends of the PSA.
Those who failed to personally receive their Awards Night invitations can get it at the reception area of the Centennial Hall.