His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos
President of the Philippines
During the Southeast Asian Games Closing Rites
[Delivered on December 15, 1981]
With this ceremony, we close another chapter in the history of sports and sports development in Southeast Asia.
During the past few days—of heated (sometimes too-heated) competition—we have seen a number of records broken, and new ones set, for future games to challenge.
The people and Government of the Philippines are happy to have had the opportunity to host the Eleventh Games; and I hope that we have not been remiss in our hospitality to our guests. On their behalf, I wish to recognize here the part played by all the participants—athletes and officials—to the undoubted success of these games. The enthusiasm that everyone showed will be the single most important memory of the games that we all will keep, long after the records it set have been wiped away.
It is also good to note that, over the past week, the eyes of the rest of the world had been focused on games here. We believe the records established in Manila will go a long way to make the sports powers appreciate the sports-potential being developed in our part of the world.
We have, in effect, served notice to all that we Southeast Asians shall no longer be content in our traditional role of cellar-dwellers in worldwide sports competitions.
Very soon. we hope, Southeast Asians will be taking their places in the ranks of world-class athletes; and when that time comes, we will be equally proud—as Southeast Asians—no matter what national colors those champions may represent.
In our quest for sports superiority, however, we must never lose sight of the fact that events such as this have a far more profound and more ennobling dimension than the fact of mere competition. Their own charter declares the Southeast Asian Games as “a venue for regional unity and brotherhood.”
Of course, we cannot ignore some of the unfortunate incidents in Manila that marred this hope of unity and brotherhood. While we try to understand these outburst of emotion as mere manifestations of overenthusiasm by rival teams, let us not. allow them to becloud the basic objectives of the games as a whole.
Neither must we allow these incidents to detract from other moments in Manila—when friendships were made and strengthened; welcome incidents by far more numerous and more inspiring.
# # #
The performance of our athletes in the various contests of strength, speed, and endurance reflect the growing sports-consciousness in all of the nations in the region. Every country able to do so sent the best of its crop—the products of various programs equally notable for their emphasis on mass-based sports development. These programs have served to eliminate the aura of elitism that once surrounded regional sports.
Of course, sports excellence is by itself laudable: but for it to attain significance, it must contribute to our broader dream of national and regional growth.
We in the Philippines have over the past week been confirmed in the wisdom of such an approach to sports development. Our athletes’ performance inspires us to pay even greater attention to the task of sports development among our young people.
The cost for organizing the games cannot by any measure compare to the intangible but valuable benefits that the games produced. No price tag can be pegged on friendship, on understanding, and on regional brotherhood. There is no way we can quantify the enthusiasm for sports, physical fitness and more excellence that the games generated among the peoples of the region.
# # #
To the athletes these are my parting words: when you go back to your home-countries, tell your people of the splendid spirit that you showed here in Manila. Tell your people of the Filipinos you’ve met, of their customs and cultures. Speak of the friendships that, I am sure, all of you have made here.
Tell them also of the difference between us, in custom or attitude, for certainly there are quite a few; but tell your people above all, of the common hope which that burning flame stands for.
This is our hope for unity and brotherhood among all Southeast Asians—and it is a hope that will not be extinguished, though these games must end and you all move on—to new triumphs and new fields to conquer.
I now declare the Eleventh South East Asian Games closed.
Source: Presidential Museum and Library
Marcos, F. E. (1981). Speeches by President Ferdinand E. Marcos. [Manila] : Presidential Library.