WINNING the Tokyo Olympics gold medal brought a renewed sense of pride among the Filipino people, and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) Chairman Steve Hontiveros believes the country can surpass, if not duplicate, its success in Paris three years from now.
But to do it again, Hontiveros said the country should continue to pursue its program anchored on good working relationship among athletes, the government and the private sector.
Speaking at the 114th episode of the “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS), Hontiveros said he was proud and happy to finally see the day that the Filipinos captured the Olympic gold after 97 years thanks to weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.
“If you ask me, there’s really no secret recipe to our success. We won the Olympic gold because we worked hard together. Sabi nga, we won as one,” said Hontiveros, one of the country’s longest serving sports officials.
“But we should not stop now and think about Paris 2024. We have to continue what we did right before Tokyo. Ituloy natin yung mga programa ng POC kasama ang PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) at private sector,” Hontiveros, who served the POC in various positions since 1977, told editors and reporters of TOPS.
Hontiveros, who was joined in the forum by two-time Olympian Eric Buhain and Tokyo Olympians Jayson Valdez (shooting) and Elreen Ando (weightlifting), said next year’s national elections that could bring new sports leaders in the PSC should not affect the country’s sports program.
“From our experience, ang mahirap kasi pag nagpalit ng administration, nag-iiba din ang programa. Pati yung tulong sa mga national sports associations, hindi tuloy-tuloy,” explained Hontiveros during the weekly public service program sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
“Bakit may recipe yan? Let’s say pag nagluluto tayo ng pagkain, kung kulang ang ingredients, hindi masarap. It’s the same with our athlete. Pag hindi kumpleto ang recipe mo para sa atleta training and everything– they will not be able to deliver,” added Hontiveros, who also acted as chef de mission of the Philippine delegation to the Athens Olympics in 2004.
Hontiveros, who also served as president of the International Bowling Federation (FIQ) and the Philippine Bowling Congress, recalled the good, old days of Gintong Alay under the late President Marcos and project director Michael Keon.
“Maganda ang simula natin (Gintong Alay). We even have godfather system. Pero hindi nagtuloy-tuloy sa mga sumunod na administrations. Now we have the PSC. Pero pag nagpalit ng administration, palit din. Iba-ibang chairman, iba-ibang programa. Maayos ang programa ngayon kaya dapat lang ituloy,” explained Hontiveros, who now heads the Philippine Handball Federation.
The 75-year-old sports leader, who graduated high school and college at De la Salle University, undescored the need for the support of both the PSC and the private sector in helping the POC achieve its goals
“Ang POC, wala talagang budget yan. The money that the POC have only comes from the subsidies of the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Council of Asia. Kaya yung mga tinutulungan ng POC, we get some fund sa mga grants ng IOC sa solidarity program, pati sa OCA. Kaya minsan, maganda din pag ang presidente, may sapat na connection.”
“Ang PSC naman was created to help sports. May mga funding talaga galing from PAGCOR. Naka budget talaga yan. But we really need the support of the private sector, like ngayon nandyan ang MVP Sports Foundation, na malaki talaga ang naitulong from the start. I know Ramon Ang of San Miguel is also helping a lot. Ngayon pati sina Andrew Tan, nandyan na. Parang yun godfather system dati.”
“Yung mga ibang negosyante, nagising na sila. Dati siguro ayaw nilang tumulong kasi akala yung pera nila, hindi napupunta sa tamang kamay, Ngayon madami na ang tumutulong, gaya nun panahon ni Marcos, na may godfather. Even during the time of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, ginawa din ito. Gusto ko yun godfather system kasi gaya dati sa San Miguel, may sweldo pa ang mga atleta at bonuses kapag nanalo. Kaya lang syempre, may pagkakataon din na hindi magkasundo yun ibang godfathers at assigned NSAs. Lahat yan inabot ko.”
Asked about the plans of the POC, now headed by president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, Hontiveros said he is pushing for the plan to adopt the same program being used by top-performing countries in the Olympics and even Asian Games.
“As POC Chairman, gusto ko din talaga ituloy namin yung mga magagandang programa, na pareho sa ibang bansa, Wala naman masama kumopya. Pero kung kokopya ka, syempre yun magaling.”
“For example, maganda yun programa sa archery sa Korea. I have been there many times. We can follow them. Hindi naman sila mananalo ng gold kung hindi maganda ang programa.Yung training center natin ngayon (sa Bataan), kailangan natin yan.”
Hontiveros also agreed with the observation of Buhain that the NSAs should also focus on getting good coaches who can identify talents from the provinces.
“Ang importante is we get good coaches and trainers, who will scout and look for talents all over the country. Then, we have to house them and train them gaya ginagawa sa Indonesia. Sa badminton where they are world-class, pipili sila ng 100-200 athletes. Iho-house nila sa isang lugar, na may eskwelahan. Walang gagawin ang mga ito kundi mag-aral at mag-ensayo. Ganun din si Thailand pagdating naman sa shooting”
“Gaya ng sinabi ni Eric (Buhain), sa swimming pwede din natin gawin yan dahil madami tayong islands. We are more than 100 million people. Pati na sa diving, pwede. We just have to get people who knows how to select our athletes and train them.”
Hontiveros also fully agreed with the PSC’s Philippine Sports Institute.
“Matagal ng pet project ni Chairman Ramirez ang sports institute, pero pag nagpalit ng leaders, baka tanggalin na naman kaya sayang.”
“Remember former PSC chairman (Philip) Juico, pumunta sya sa Australia para pag-aralan yun sports institute nila. Pero hindi natuloy.”
On the 2021 Southeast Asian Games scheduled in Vietnam late this year, but was postponed to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hontiveros said the POC will finalize everything with their counterparts from the SEAG Federation.
“As of now, wala pang definite date na napag-kakasunduan. But with the Tokyo Olympics already over, malalaman na natin siguro within the month. May Asian Games pa tayo. Mabigat din ang laban dya kaya we also have to concentrate on training of our athletes. Pag hindi pa natuloy ang SEA Games next year, they (Vietnamese) have to hold it na after Cambodia in 2023 and maybe Brunei in 2025. So, baka sa 2027 na uli sila,” said Hontiveros.
Asked for his master plan for Philippine sports, Hontiveros said’ “We have to do it and focus on sports where we Filipino can excel. Yun mga individual sports, gaya ng weightlifting and boxing. We can excel dahil may mga weight categories dito. Sa team sports, talagang mahirap at magastos pero kailangan pa din natin aralin at suportahan.” With reports from Gab Ferreras