Archive for the ‘Beijing’ Category

Beacons of hope & exemplars of the soul’s triumph

August 25, 2008

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The pessimists in us are not happy about 15 Filipino athletes coming to the Beijing Olympic Games. They think it’s a waste of time, money and effort sending the delegation with a dismal chance of winning. Yet considering the support we have for sports, it’s a wonder that we have a contingent of brave competitors willing to sweat it out for the glory and edification of the country.

Like Laos, Kiribati, Uruguay, Myanmar, Liechtenstein, Yemen, Zambia, and many others, Philippines went home wanting of an Olympic medal. But for sure all these countries are richer in experience and hope. To be part of a world where cultural differences is transformed into a gesture of friendly competitiveness is an accomplishment by itself.

To be the best in the field isn’t everything. By our participation in the games, we affirm the universal aspiration for excellence and our desire to connect with people. By cooperating with China’s hosting of a tantalizing “coming out” party which wowed the world, we bouy up cooperation and friendship among nations. We demonstrate that winning and losing are life-realities that all of us must contend with.

We salute the cash-strapped people of Zimbabwe whose hyperinflation and economic hardships didn’t deter their athletes to bring home 4 medals. We admire Malaysia and the small West African country of Togo which brought a silver and bronze respectively.

Turbulent Georgia, which nurses wounds from separatist South Ossetia and suffers border conflict with neighbor Russia, won 6 medals. Moslem Iran, threatening Israel and the world with its nuclear program basked in victory with two well-earned medals. Our southern Asian partner Indonesia celebrates success from 5 impressive wins, one of them gold in badminton.


Amidst the dominance and superiority of the United States with 110 medals (eclipsing China in total number but not in the count for gold,) the Middle Eastern nation of Bahrain with barely a million people produced for the first time a gold medal winner in track in field. Jamaica, a Carribean country of 2.5 million brought home a spectacular win of 11 medals, 6 of them gold. War-torn Afghanistan with a population less than half of the Philippines, won a taekwondo bronze in the 17-day grueling competition.

With 85 million of us, how come we’re lagging behind these countries? How come winning an Olympic medal seems to be so unreal— a pipe dream for us? The answer probably lies in our attitude, endurance, and value judgment. We need to trust ourselves more. We must support and appreciate the sportsmanship of our athletes. We must believe in our capacity to win, stirring us to fight as a team and as an individual for our own self-fulfillment and survival.

The aspiration of humanity to excel and be part of a cause greater than its own is part of the Olympic tradition. In a time when we doubt ourselves if we can go beyond what others expect of us, our athletes stand as beacons of hope and exemplars of our soul’s triumph. Even if our athletes didn’t win, in the field of dreams, their hearts shine as bright as the torch and the gold of the Olympics.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FILIPINO OLYMPIC ATHLETES!

Eric Ang—Shooting; Ryan Paolo Arabejo—Swimming;
Daniel Coakley—Swimming; Henry Dagmil—Track & Field; Hidilyn Diaz—-Weightlifting; Rexel Ryan Fabriga—Diving; Tshomlee Go—Taekwondo; Mark Javier—Archery; Miguel Molina—Swimming; Sheila Mae Perez—Diving; Mary Antoinette Rivero—Taekwondo;
Christel Simms—Swimming; Harry Tanamor—Boxing;
Marestella Torres—Track & Field; JB Walsh—Swimming. (PhotoCredits: AFP/NicolasAsfouri; Reuters/OlegPopov; Reuters/MikeBlake)=0=

Debasing truth in the Olympics: China’s desire for excellence & the pressure to please the world

August 15, 2008

On the opening of the Beijing Olympics on August 8, 2008, we were treated by a sparkling display of fireworks in TV watched by more than 2.5 billion people. It turned out some of the segments of the spectacle were faked, somewhat dampening our spirits. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Then we saw the Chinese girl Lin Miaoke who enthralled an adoring audience of more 90,000 in the stadium with her angelic singing, only to be told later it was not her voice that we heard. The voice was a recording of Yang Peiyi, a chubby girl with unsightly teeth who didn’t look as pretty as Lin, a reason that booted her out of the stage. (Photo Credit: AFP/ImagineChina)

Lately, we shared the riveting triumph of the Chinese Women’s Gymnastics athletes who grabbed the Olympic gold from their American competitors, their closest rivals. The nimble pixie gymnasts undoubtedly commanded superior performance, but their winning was tarnished by allegations that some of the team members were below 16 years old during the competition, in violation of the rules of the Olympics. Though denied by the Chinese authorities, at least one of the girls, He Kexin, was reported to be 13 years, 9 months before the onset of the games.

Such “cheating”, a cheap attempt to impress and gain honor, doesn’t escape the scrutiny of the world. Dishonesty doesn’t synch well with the Olympics spirit which recognizes undefiled excellence, sportsmanship, and friendship. If humanity is to advance the universal values of understanding, competitiveness, and mutual respect, we must steer away from any form of fakery. To be truthful is honorable than to be deceitful. A fake, no matter how perfect it looks, is still a fake. Honesty remains the soil on which civility and trust grow. Photo Credit: Reuters/BlakeM.) =0=

Pres. George Bush & his fading presidency

August 13, 2008

It’s a hell of a job to be the president of the United States. Pres. George W. Bush, for all his efforts to make his second term appealing to the Americans and the world, has been met with doubts, opposition, and ridicule.

He is accused of lying about Iraq though he decided to wage war on the basis of bipartisan approval by the US legislature, on the series UN resolutions versus Saddam Hussein left unimplemented, and on data supplied to him by CIA and the intelligence circles. Since 911, there is no major terrorist attack in the American heartland. Al Qaeda has withered and the troop surge in Iraq is showing positive results. That’s consoling enough for some grateful Americans, but not for the majority.

There are worrisome issues on the economy, homeland security, healthcare, illegal immigration, social security, climate change, abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research and education which stand on the way— on which the verdict of his presidency will be based. Though history hasn’t spoken, the president’s enemies have dunked him, even campaigned for his failure. His call to drill for oil which is supported by fellow Republicans and 70% of Americans to ease up future fuel shortages, have been rebuffed by Democratic party leader Nancy Pelosi.

As Pres. Bush fades towards November, when the election of a new president comes, he visibly enjoys a respite at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In the sands of Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Ground, in August 9, 2008, he exchanged fun and laughter with Kerrie Walsh, a veteran US Olympian. (Photo Credit: Reuters/Downing, L)