Philippines’ flag bearers in various past sporting events usually marched in barong and black pants, or in an athletic uniform. But at this year’s SEA Games in Myanmar, it would be different.
Wrestler Jason Balabal, this year’s flag bearer, will carry the Philippine flag wearing nothing but a piece of G-string at the opening of the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar on December 11.
Expected to be an eye-catcher at the opening ceremony, the idea of letting Balabal wear his native outfit came from Chef de mission Jeff Tamayo.
“He’s a fighter and proud of his indigenous background,” said Tamayo, a staunch advocate of sports in ethnic communities and organizer of the Tribal Games.
The 27-year old hulking grappler from Ifugao won wrestling’s freestyle gold medal in 2009 Laos SEA Games, and then crossed over to Greco Roman in 2011 Indonesia SEA Games to match is golden peat in the 85kg.
Tamayo also said the Myanmar organizer has moved the final submission of entries on Oct. 10, a month earlier than the original deadline.
“It will definitely hurt the chances of aspiring athletes who want to qualify,” said Tamayo, who attended the SEA Games chief of mission meeting in Burma during the weekend.
The POC second vice president said women’s basketball and judo are among the sports that might not meet the early deadline.
Tamayo also said former actor and taekwondo-jin Monsour del Rosario has been tapped as deputy chef de mission along with tennis secretary general Romeo Magat.