All systems go for the 30th edition of the Southeast Asian Games or 2019 SEA Games to be hosted by the Philippines, as world-class sports facilities for the event is “99 percent” ready.
Also known as Philippines 2019, this biennial regional multi-sport event will be participated by 11 countries and with the highest number of sports in the history of the games at 56. There will be four designated hubs that will host the sporting activities: Manila, New Clark City, Subic and Bulacan.
In a tour of the New Clark City (NCC), organized by the Philippine Association of Publishers, Inc. (PAPI) led by its president, Nelson Santos, the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA), which hosted the activity reported that 99 percent of the sports facilities are now ready with only some “finishing touches” in some structures. “These facilities are even disaster-resilient,” said Engr. Jericho Bondoc, the NCC Aquatic Center venue manager. The facility was first used by the First Philippine National Open for Swimming Inc. competition held recently. All aquatic sports during the SEA Games will be held in the Aquatic Center.
Winners in the swimming competition are among those who “qualified” the facility to fit the sports contest’s’ requirement.
This year’s SEA Games is the first edition to include e-sports and obstacle course. The event will run from November 30 to December 11. Among the four hubs, Clark is set to be the main center of the sports events featuring the NCC sports complex located in Capas, Tarlac.
At least 10,000 athletes from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste, Singapore and Vietnam will participate in the 543 sports events.
Corporate Communications Officer Garry Cativo and Bondoc explained that the development in the New Clark City is only Phase 1, in the 9,450 hectares out of the 34,500 hectares former US military bases facilities. The same venue will be used for January 18-25 Paralympics next year, said Cativo.
The 2020 ASEAN Para Games is an upcoming biannual multi-sport event to be held still in the Philippines for athletes with physical disabilities. Participants will come from 11 countries in Southeast Asia. This will be the second time the Philippines will host the ASEAN Para Games and its first time since 2005.
Cativo said the Aquatic Center will be the “permanent” venue for all aquatic sports in the Philippines. The same facility will be available for rent by foreign athletes, “who hate too much cold in their own country,” for their training. “Their sort of conditioning will be in the Philippines.”
The NCC facility will host swimming, water polo for the SEA Games. Other athletic sports like running, high jump, javelin throw, track and field, discus throw, will be held within the sports complex.
The Aquatic Center with a seating capacity of 2,000, is equipped with three swimming pools, a 10-lane Olympic-size pool, an 8-lane training pool and a diving pool. The competition pool has a dimension of 50 by 25 meters and has a depth of 3 meters. The training pool has a depth of 2 meters while the diving pool has a dimension of 25 by 20 meters and a depth of 5 meters.
The facility’s entrance is connected to the main road by a vehicle ramp while pedestrians including persons with disabilities can access the stadium through its side entry points. The lower ground floor hosts parking spaces for 26 cars and ten buses.
As of this writing, a jeepney terminal is nearly completed for public transport in going to and from the NCC.
WORKERS CRAM TO FINISH EVERYTHING
It was apparent that the Philippines wants to impress the hosting of the 2019 Sea Games, with all workers doing their tasks even in the presence of media people and other guests at the Aquatic Center.
Landscapers were busy planting decorative plants at the center island of the paths leading to the Aquatic Center from the SCTEx or Subic Clark Tarlac Expressway in the newly constructed access roads. It is expected that on or before October 15, contractors working under BCDA will turn over their finished roads and facilities. The Aquatic Center alone covers a little over two hectares.
The JV (Joint Venture) Company will take over the operation and management of the Aquatic Center once all the sports events are over. Around 8,500 workers were hired for the construction of SEA Games facilities.
NCC TO BACK UP GOVT. OFFICES FOR ‘THE BIG ONE,’ SPORTS FACILITIES
Aside from building the sports complex, the NCC will host various government offices as satellite branches in preparation for the possible coming of “The Big One.” The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOCS) earlier announced this year that the magnitude of this earthquake is estimated at 7.2 based on the length of the West Valley Fault, which is around 100 kilometers long. It said that the whole of Metro Manila, parts of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna will experience an Intensity-Eight earthquake that is categorized as “very destructive.”
Bondoc said that among the offices set to be backed up by satellite offices in NCC include Office of the Civil Defense (OCD), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Dept. of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), to name some.
The construction of the National Government Administrative Center (NGAC) in New Clark City also ensures the efficient delivery of services as national agencies seek to locate in a master planned metropolis that is also more resilient and sustainable.
NCC is envisioned to be the first “smart, green, and sustainable metropolis” in the country. The govt. does not want to paralyze the delivery of services to the people in case of earthquake and other disasters,” Bondoc said. “This is also solution to the traffic woes in Metro Manila,” Cativo echoed.
The media people also got a glimpse of the other facilities, including the location of the Athletes Village which is the first world-class living quarters for the SEA Games athlete participants.
Cativo said the athletes will be accorded VIP treatment during their stay in the “village.” This was constructed inside the sports complex for easier access to the sports facilities and some five-minute walk to the Aquatic Center. The Athletes Village will house some 2,900 participants – athletes, coaches, trainers and delegation officials. The five-storey facility was designed by Budji Royal Architecture Design that features 525 rooms, 310 of which are PWD-friendly. It also offers gym facilities, conference rooms, kitchen and dining rooms, conference rooms, a transport plaza and recreational facilities, along with a 24/7 dining hall, entertainment and leisure center, event plaza and village mall.
BCDA CITES AFP AS BENEFICIARY FOR PROCEEDS FROM EX-US BASES
Cativo and Bondoc said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines or AFP has benefitted multi-billion pesos from BCDA with some P8-billion during the first two years of the present administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
BCDA lives with its theme “We help strengthen our armed forces while we build great cities.” It is mandated to help strengthen the Armed Forces while building great cities, BCDA remains as a major force in creating economic opportunities in the country—through its establishment of integrated developments, dynamic business centers and vibrant communities.
BCDA engages in public-private partnerships to push forward vital public infrastructure such as tollways, airports, seaports, and also major real estate developments. It is one of the key agencies driving “Build Build Build,” the national government’s most ambitious infrastructure plan in Philippine history. This infrastructure plan hopes to provide bold solutions that will reduce congestion, create jobs and alleviate costs in the Philippines.
BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer Vivencio Dizon in earlier reports, highlighted BCDA’s mandate to transform military bases into premier centers of economic growth, according to published reports.
The amount of P8-billion, represents 20 percent of the total P40 billion received by the men and women in uniform from BCDA since the state-run agency was created in 1992. – Janet Rebusio-Ducayag/Nelson Santos
Image 1 credits: Clark Development Corporation Communications Department / Borj Meneses