PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – The long wait is over. After over six long decades of waiting due to political unrest that plagued the country, the 2023 South East Asian (SEA) Games officially kicked off in Cambodia as the host country for the first time in its history, staging a historic opening ceremony that’s one for the ages.
Tens of thousands of spectators gathered to witness a historic event and support their respective delegations as they proudly marched on the newly built 75,000-seater Morodok Techo National Stadium on Friday, May 5.
The ceremony was graced by the presence of Cambodia’s Prime Minister, Hun Sen, as he joined thousands of people who were treated to a spectacular display of performances featuring Cambodia’s culture and traditions, which highlighted its rich history. The event also featured the traditional cauldron lighting, flag waving, and grand fireworks display and included performances from different hometown artists.
Philippine Volleyball Superstar Alyssa Valdez served as the Philippines’ flag-bearer, leading the all-female Philippine delegation as they gracefully marched during the parade of nations wearing their Francis Libiran-designed barong called “Araw.”
“I’m very overwhelmed. I know also for a fact that there are a lot of empowered women that I’ll be joining in our march, and I’m just really inspired to share this with them and motivated to bring pride and honor for our country in this SEA Games,” said Valdez before the parade of nations. Valdez was also the country’s flag-bearer during the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.
The event is also known as the 32nd SEA Games, which brought together eleven (11) participating nations: Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, East Timor, Laos, defending champion Vietnam, host country Cambodia, and the Philippines, which summed up a total of 12,000 participants of 584 events of 36 sports competitions.
The Philippines is holding an immense contingent of 846 mighty athletes to represent the nation. The country is also off to a great start before the official opening of the SEA Games, as they already tallied two golds, two silvers, and three bronzes, second behind Cambodia in the current medal rankings.
Team Philippines is looking to improve their fourth-place finish from last year during the 2022 SEA Games held in Vietnam with 52 golds, 72 silvers, and 104 bronzes.