Pretty women but no fireworks

Feast of colours: Performers putting up an explosive show during the opening ceremony of 30th SEA Games at the Philippine Arena last night.

THE Philippines lined up its most beautiful and most famous in a one-of-a kind SEA Games opening ceremony that was more extraordinary in that it happened in two different places, 150km from each other.

However, a lockdown in one of the two stadiums raised many questions. The Games cauldron was also not lit last night.

Instead, a pre-recorded footage of fireworks was shown at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan province, north of Manila.

Eleven beauty queens, including 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach and 2013 Miss World Megan Young, accompanied the 11 contingents, each wearing different gowns made from unique indigenous weaves from various regions in the country during the march past at the Arena.

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte also joined the festivities at the world’s biggest indoor stadium.

Allan Pineda, or better known as of the Black Eyed Peas headlined the musical gala in the arena. He was accompanied by Lani Misalucha, Christian Bautista, Aicelle Santos, Jed Madela, Elmo Magalona, LZ Tandingan, Inigo Pascual, the TNT Boys, Ana Fegi and Robert Sena.

So close yet so far: Hundreds of members of the public were blocked from entering the stadium to watch the SEA Games opening ceremony. Security personnel said that they were acting on orders from higher authorities. —BernamaSo close yet so far: Hundreds of members of the public were blocked from entering the stadium to watch the SEA Games opening ceremony. Security personnel said that they were acting on orders from higher authorities. —Bernama

At the New Clark City Sports Complex in Pampanga, world-famous boxer Manny Pacquiao was to have lit up the SEA Games cauldron with state-of-the-art digital technology.

However, no one was allowed access to the complex from as early as 4pm. Bernama reported that there were no fireworks and the cauldron remained unlit until late into the night.

At the indoor stadium, the Malaysian athletes were all smiles in their national costume as they walked in, looking for their best SEA Games outing outside of Malaysia.

The men donned baju Melayu and songkok with the crescent and 14-point star and the ladies were clad in baju kurung and a shawl emblazoned with the colours of Jalur Gemilang. All wore broad smiles which told of the camaraderie of the Games.

Bowling world champion Rafiq Ismail was the flag bearer of the Malaysian contingent, and they were accompanied by the chef-de-mission Megat Zulkarnain Omardin and his deputies Nurul Huda Abdullah and Ahmad Faedzal Md Ramli.

About 90 Malaysian athletes, who are participating in the Clark, Manila and Subic cluster, marched out, representing 773 athletes in the Games.

Hopes are certainly high on our contingent who have a 70-gold mark to meet over the next 10 days of competition.

The Malaysian contingent during the march past.The Malaysian contingent during the march past.

The athlete’s parade was done in the style of Santacruzan, a religious pageant held on the last day of the Flores de Mayo, a month-long festival in May to honour the Virgin Mary.

At least for a day, the people in the Philippines did not speak about the inadequate preparations but celebrated the opening ceremony of the 30th SEA Games.

With 56 sports being played, the Philippines will host a record of 5,864 athletes competing for 530 gold medals. The theme of the Games may be “We Win As One” but the host nation are looking to be “The One”, by being the overall champions.

The ceremony, which started at 8pm and lasted for almost two hours, was set up against a backdrop of a 15x38m LED screen displaying a bamboo background.

The Philippines national contingent dazzled the crowd in their elegant Barong Tagalog, designed by the country’s top designer Francis Libiran with detachable collars of blue and red.

For Santacruzan, girls are chosen to play various reynas (queens) representing historical figures or communities. In the opening ceremony yesterday, though, real beauty queens took their place.

But the fireworks and cauldron lighting shown on the screen were not real.
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