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Why athletes leave the Philippines

It’s so disheartening to see Filipinos flourish in other countries waving flags of foreign colours when and where they could be donning the three stars and sun through every tournament they encounter.

One such example is native Grand Master Wesley So; whom has just won Skilling Open in the US representing the same country.

When asked if he’d return to the Philippines, all he has to say was “what for?”

Can we blame him? Not one bit.

Simply because the government doesn’t care.

No matter how you twist and turn the argument, there are and will never be enough funds to support our athletes. Simply because the government does not and will never care.

Why? Simple: the funds, more and more of it every year, are channeled to the “military” which only translates to more funding for their future endeavors in politics. The only reason the government wants to keep the military in check is for their loyalty to a fault – keep us in power, we will keep you and your family fed.

Hence, the apathy towards the arts, sports, education, and health. Because the only people those you’ve elected only care for are themselves.

Yes, this is generalizing and not every politician/person in power belongs here. However, this formula has been running even before the boomers, you really think things are about to change in the upcoming elections? Highly unlikely. 

That’s the simple reason why, to this day, without wars and conflict and actual need for the military, the government keeps trying to create enemies to “strengthen the cause” of its firepower. Aside from that, absolutely nothing is actually protecting the country from external threats what with hand-me-down ships and helicopters from outdated guns and machinery all of which dates back towards the 70s. 

The only reason our “allies” felt comfortable selling their militia to us is that they literally have the technology to destroy whatever we have shielding us, in a matter of seconds. Literal seconds.

Meanwhile, culture, the arts, sports, health, and education suffer. And you thought it was through your own fault that you can’t afford proper healthcare and education for your children.

Just this year, the Philippine Sports Commission was allocated only PHP 250 million for 2021 “national athletes’s preparation” for Tokyo Olympics, Paralympics, Hanoi Southeast Asian Games, Asian Indoor and Martial Art Games, Asian Youth Games, and Asian Beach Games.

Compare that to the (converted) PHP 14.6 billion Singapore is injecting towards Sport Singapore Programme.

In stark contrast, the government decided to allot PHP 215 BILLION budget provided to the military. Because we are under constant threat?

Add to that lack of actual facilities to use aside from the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex that’s being held together be sheer will power of the staff and athletes.

Does it mean it will also be on our task to support our own athletes? Yes and no. Yes, we should be supporting all of our athletes in all of their endeavours to make the country proud. No, not just basketball but all of them, collectively, with equity. No because that’s what our taxes are for, the proper allocation of resources to those that will require funding. 

Maybe if there were more support and less politics in the sport industry, there would actually be something we could be proud of. Until then, what’s keeping our native athletes from staying here and representing our country? Nothing.

Maybe if the entire country really did what and all that it could for our athletes can we actually display “Pinoy Pride” and not the displaced shame of “pride” seeing a fellow Pinoy flourish on foreign soil.

Mabuhay, Pilipinas.

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