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Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines


Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines

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Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines

First Published Sept 24, 2013

We have come a long way since this article was written. I have put my feedback in red. Red commentary by Pirie Enzo. Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines.


EDITORIAL: Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines : Why Athletics is Not Popular in the Philippines?

Airnel T. Abarra

Basketball, Boxing, Billiards, Volleyball, and Football. Expect those sports are the major content of sports pages among mainstream media outfits in the Philippines. As an Athletics enthusiast. I need to check different sources in order to view what is the latest news and information about Track and Field.

Being one of the oldest sport in human history and the centre piece event in the Olympic Games. We may wonder why is it that Athletics is not popular in the Philippines? This article will explore Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines.

Other sports such as Basketball, Boxing and Billards we will never be as popular as we have our home-grown heroes.

However, Track an Field is a priority sport for the PSC and is the sport we may win the most golds in. At SEA Games level Basketball, Volleyball and Football only make up for one gold medal. Whereas Track an Field is around 40 events so 40 golds maximum.


Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines : Market-driven media hegemony

Media outfits in the likes of ABS-CBN, AKTV and GMA are only covering sports with enough mass appeal. Since they are private companies, they have one thing in their mind: Profit. They only air sports that get the most number of sponsors. Because of their influence among sports fans.

They confine the audience with limited choices and put other sports in the last line. Another theory is how the Cultural hegemony of the United States affects our choice of what sport should we follow. Philippines become a basketball fanatic nation because the US introduced us to that sport.


Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines : Since mainstream sports are the ones always being covered. We can expect people will not be interested in watching or even trying sports like Athletics.

We have to make athletics more interesting to the public and the way to do this is elite meets. People have a very short attention span when it comes to sports. No one really likes to watch 18 rounds of golf. Athletic meets in Grand Prix format. Without the bother of watching rounds and heats is much more interesting for the public.

Of course media being also a source of entertainment will bank on sports with athletes with “pleasing personality”. Having a media set-up that is entwined to the entertainment industry, we see most of the athletes that mainstream follow suits to the standard of what is beautiful to a common Filipino: model material “artistahin” etc. Since in Athletics, there is not much “artistahin” we can expect private mainstream media not to bank after them unless they win a big competition overseas.


Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines : Compared with the set-up of media in other countries, state-run stations cover mostly big events with track and field as the main preference.

Japan has NHK, UK has the BBC, and China has CCTV. If our government enables our state-run station, People’s Television Network to expand its capabilities and if possible beefed up with more funds. We may expect more coverage for track and field. Another example is how there is no live coverage for Palarong Pambansa. Even it is esteemed as the National games of the Philippines. Ironic isn’t it?


Another factor is that the current media set up lacks a true Athletics analyst.

There are no Dyan Castillejo, Qunito Henson, Ronnie Nathanielsz, and TJ Manotoc who can explain and analyse the sport to common people. I remember during the Sydney 2000 coverage of PTV, Mr. Freddie Abando become the athletics reporter even he is a news reporter. The mainstream media sports setup doesn’t breed new sportscasters who can be experts in Athletics.

There are plenty of unofficial analysts. and several other bloggers already provide far better insight than mainstream media.



No new sporting heroes

Although our current national athletes are winning in some events overseas, they still can’t equate the likes of Lydia De Vega, Elma Muros, Isidro del Prado, etc. Because there are no athletes breaking through major athletics tournaments for the past 6-7 years, we can expect that people will not look much for them. Still, our national athletes are doing their best, still, we need a new talent to emerge and serve as the face of the sport to gain public attention.

We have a new crop of athletes coming through EJ Obiena, Eric Cray, Kristina Knott, Willie Morrison, this for me is not an issue anymore.


Conservatism in the Athletics National Sports Association (NSA)

Compared with other Athletics Associations of most high performing countries. Most of them had a true and working website where all news, events, and records are disclosed to the public. With the popularity of social networking sites. We may think that Athletics in the Philippines may get popular and more transparent.

Yet due to the inaccessibility of records in real-time and the lack of a centralised resource hub for Athletics records and news. Questions about the validity of records hound the NSA for PHI Athletics. If only the NSA will maximise the use of social media and have a true media bureau desk among their ranks, chances of informing people about athletics will be much better. Make the most out of everything. is playing this role right now check it out. :). In light of inconsitencies between records i did Message PATAFA President Philip Juico regarding the need for transparency between sets of records by Pinoyathletics, PATAFA, and Wikipedia respectively but my emails were ignored.


Ways to Improve Athletic in the Philippines : The education of athletes and coaches should be done as well.

It should not be only about doing academics. But doing research on innovative ways in training and performance. UP CHK, for example, is doing different studies in relation with athletic training.

And yet only a few collaborate with the college to consult their training methods if it is in synch with existing studies in Athletics. As we always said, those you learn during your athletic years are not the same on what should be done now. In common sense, the experience is not always the gold standard; education, competence and track record should be.

A good coach is one who will always find new ways through their own diligent research and always update their knowledge in seminars not just done via the IAAF but also sports science clinics.

To top all of this, the NSA should do something and convene all stakeholders in Philippine Athletics. There is should be no room for factionalism or secrecy among its ranks. Open records to anyone who wants to check it out. It creates a room of trust and confidence especially among sponsors who want to help Philippine athletics. All sides must be heard and collective statements and actions must be raised. Unity among diversity is the key to success.

This is beginning to happen. shares the knowledge from the organization of PATAFA to the community.

There are a lot of things to make Athletics a sport of choice among the Filipinos. We must think about the betterment of the nation because its citizens pay taxes to develop our sport. Innovation, transparency and continuous strive for excellence should be always the core values of any discipline. Trust builds confidence, confidence creates relationships, and relationships create new things. Should we begin now?

I think this is very open to discussion and we should continue to hold talks here.

Editor’s note: We are open to any comments and reactions to this article. Let’s have a discussion. Email us at [email protected]


Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines What Philippine Athletics should do?

By: PinoyAthletics Editorial Team*

From our first editorial “Why Athletics is not popular in the Philippines”. It stirred discussions among the members of the PinoyAthletics community. One may ask, now that you pinpointed the problems, so what is your alternative?. This follow-up article will try to roll out our alternative game plan for Philippine Athletics.

Start with clean slate Since 1990, only one leadership resides in the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA). To be fair with them, we will not cite the names of the leaders but instead let us focus on what matters most: Start with a fresh mandate. The debacle of PHI athletics for the past years can be attributed to laid-back leadership. Of course, mainstream media witnessed how PATAFA leadership was the talk of the town.

To give way to a true leadership change, PSC and POC must open to the public the holding of a true, independent, and clean election in PATAFA. With the aid of technology and social media, it should be in the live streaming video as like how the International Olympic Committee holds host city elections. Through collective and strong leadership, it will create an atmosphere of openness and innovation among stakeholders in Philippine Athletics.

Genuine, mass-based, and scientific Athletics program Genuine in the sense that it should serve the interests of the Filipino people who are the primary investor in Philippine Athletics funds through their taxes. Transparency from the highest honchos down to the athletes itself must be properly implemented. Regular submission of financial statements and of course event results posted on a working and user-friendly website should start this up. Conservatives may say that budget is always the problem.

Of course, it is given that PSC is lacking funds but in order to haul sponsors, the agency itself must package itself as a trustworthy organization that is fitted for a sponsorship deal. Moreover, records should be open for public scrutiny and regular caucus and should be set.

Mass-based activities through a total reform in local PATAFA chapters to all provinces and cities in the Philippines. From there, local government units will realize that PATAFA is connecting to their people is the National Sports Association for Athletics. Through continuous education of athletes, coaches and trainers to the latest and scientific training programs based on sound research by educational institutions like the College of Human Kinetics of the University of the Philippines.

Those people who will be given those opportunities continuing education will be chosen based on their honest intentions and capabilities and not just for self-promotion or prestige. From the regional down to the city or municipal levels, Athletics club should be institutionalized, PATAFA chapters should steering the track and field activities and contests there as the true national governing body.

That’s why the concept of a club system to the local Athletics club must be implemented. All those clubs will compete to a National Open or its equivalent where the pool for the National Team will be selected. With the numerous Athletics competitions like Palarong Pambansa, UAAP, NCAA, and UniGames. The Philippine Athletics calendar should be in harmony and not in conflict with each other with the different events in the country.

Through setting up of local competitions regularly with PATAFA as a prime organizer, new talents in the community will be motivated to stay in the sport since competitions and other events are there to join in and not just waiting for one Palarong Pambansa every year for their exposure.

In the presence of numerous road-running activities, PATAFA should be the sanctioning body for these events like what the Games and Amusements Board doing in professional sports. PATAFA should not be a sleeping giant waiting for talents just to knock to their doors but really integrate themselves to the masses. That is where talents and future champions are discovered. Ivory tower concept in sports should be destroyed.

Scientific Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines 

What training program we did in the ’80s will not suffice to this era. So the continuous implementation of the scientific training programs should be a cornerstone of athlete development. PATAFA should not just only send athletes for training overseas. But inviting and immerse with coaches and trainers from different countries like Germany, Russia, etc. We are sure by contacting and creating agreements with Athletic powerhouse countries.

It will result in innovations. As we noted earlier, UP College of Human Kinetics pool of young sports scientists and human movement science experts can provide PATAFA the latest information. Also, other research agencies like the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development- Department of Science and Technology can be tapped through their researchers what may find ways in managing the well-being of the athletes.

Inclusive and collective leadership- successful organizations have a main component: unity and cooperation among its ranks. People working in the organization should be competent and has all the values of a servant. By removing the political influence and self-interests by constant disposition checks and balances as well as self-criticism, Philippine Athletics patrons will not divert to different leadership perspectives but only following one line: serving the people. Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines.

All the things we say here will not miraculously heal Philippine Athletics. Our stand is that change must start as soon as possible inside and outside the system; find ways for total reform if not a revolution in the organization and all the people involved. Make Athletics has its place in the sun and map of Philippine Sports scene; inspire athletes and the masses that we should be serving in the first place.

Comments, reactions, and invitations for a thorough discussion are most welcome on Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines

*Andrew Pirie and Airnel T. Abarra

Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines


In light of the situation with POC Senate Hearing scheduled for November 16. I bring up this old article from Pinoyexchange. It seems nothing much has changed.  So can you suggest in the comments more Ways to Improve Athletics in the Philippines.



Thread started by Coolenz from


Philippine Sports


The Original thread is available here


Like many Pexers and sport-loving Filipinos across the archipelago and throughout the world. I am sick and tired of the present situation of Philippine sports.  Also particularly the country’s declining performance in major international events like the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games and Olympics.

While in the recent London Olympics, our athletes were nowhere near world-class standards. The only one who advanced to the next round of his event was boxer Mark Barriga. Barriga only made it to the Round of 16. Yet of course, I was no longer surprised with their performance. While they went up against athletes who are well-trained, well-fed, well-equipped and were given all the support they need.

Also we can’t blame the athletes for their lackluster performance. How can we expect Marestella Torres to make a personal best jump if she can’t even train at the Rizal Memorial oval and had to travel outside Metro Manila just to practice? How can we expect Hidlyn Diaz to make a solid lift when she trains on rusted barbels and had to use another facility that is fully equipped? How can we expect archers Mark Javier and Rachel Cabral to be on target when they are using broken arrows aimed at a makeshift target?

They can defy the odds in the Southeast Asian Games and perhaps the Asian Games but definitely not the Olympics.

Having a meager budget for Philippine sports is definitely a big factor. Hence it is not an excuse for not winning medals. There should be a collaboration from the private sectors and a sound long-term sports program should be in place.

If you ask me, the London Olympics debacle should be the last straw. But we all know that more failures lie ahead unless a drastic change is implemented as soon as possible.

Saying that the Filipinos will not succeed in the Olympics is ridiculous. No doubt the talent is there. Otherwise the country would not have produced world champions in non-Olympic sports like professional boxing, practical shooting, wushu, bowling, billiards and dragon-boat racing. The biggest challenge is nurturing that talent and transforming that athlete into a legitimate medal contender in the Olympics.

The Philippine Dragon Boat Federation won over-all champions with 5 golds and 2 silver medals in the just concluded 10th IDBF World Championships in Tampa, Florida.

To do that, a change in the present system is badly needed.

The consensus among sports columnists and sports-loving individuals is the need for a major facelift in the country’s sports agencies and overhaul the entire system. There are parties pushing for the abolition of the Philippine Sports Commission and replacing it with a new governing body. There are also those calling for the ouster of POC president Peping Cojuangco, who has held this position since 2004.

Despite the declining performance of Philippine sports under his term, Cojuangco is reportedly still keen on running for a third term as POC president. And the alarming note here is that there are no challengers for the said post. Names like Ricky Vargas, Popoy Juico and Manny Lopez have been floated but these are all unconfirmed. Cojuangco won a second term in 2008 when he defeated then Philippine shooting president Art Macapagal in a closely-contested election.

In the eyes of sportswriters and fans, Peping has clearly outlived his welcome. It’s time for him to go and hand over his position to another individual. Hopefully, his successor is a visionary and somebody who is not connected with the officials we have at present. As who that person is? Well, your guess is as good as mine.


Pinoyathletics response by Pirie Enzo

Is this the first, second, or maybe third chance for Peping? I have already lost count.

I agree with ‘Vincex’ and ‘Peter Utol’. What the Philippines needs to do is bring in a new generation of sports leaders to modernize the sport. Much the same as what Michael Keon and Anthony Benson did with the Gintong Alay Project back in the early 1980s.


Regardless of his affiliations, Trillanes is right. However creating a Department of Sports won’t answer anything if the people running it don’t know anything about sports development either.

It’s like the Department of Health talking about health, or the people going to gyms exercising and achieving nothing.

It takes technique and skill. Something we have to learn from foreign entities. Just as Paquiao did.

-Vincex wrote


I think sports such as weightlifting, boxing (if they can convince someone to stay in amateurs long enough to not turn pro) and Bowling (if it becomes an olympic sport) are the three bets. The Philippines sports leaders are kidding themselves if they think Basketball or Track and Field or Swimming is where we are going to win olympic gold medals. ‘THE PHILIPPINES WILL NEVER WIN AN OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL IN BASKETBALL, TRACK AND FIELD OR SWIMMING’.

However the Philippines could be quite dominating at SEA Games level in the above mentioned sports if the right programs are put in place. This is where i agree with vincex, Keon and Australian coach Anthony Benson knew what they were doing and the Philippines reaped the benefits at sea games and even Asian level.

Where are the Keon’s and Benson’s of this world now????


If you will just rely on the Pinoy race to naturally evolve into a world-class type of athletes, it will take a millennium. I suggest two things: Introduce Anglo or African genes into the mainstream gene pool and then accelerate the development with steroids and we will probably see some serious competitors in 2024 at the earliest.

-Peter Utol wrote


Also in regards to Peter Utol. No need to resort to PEDs, but in regards to what you say the Philippines seems very reluctant to recruit a lot of Fil-Heritage athletes. Certainly in events such as sprinting which are dominated by West Africans these sort of genes would be favorable for the sport read this article below.…print-program/

A swell as that a lot of Asian nations are already recruiting and naturalizing Kenyan, Ethiopian, Moroccan distance runners and Nigerian sprinters into there ranks to boost their domestic pool. Its not just about importing and recruiting athletes however its about also making sure we have good programs in place, well organized meets to boost are depth.

Evaluation and De-evolution of the 2012 Advocacy Plan for PATAFA


An advocacy plan was presented now several years ago by the said individuals Misael Perez, Manny Calpes, and Renato Unso. Three UAAP coaches and the later an athletic legend of Track and Field.

I ask you dear reader? after reviewing this.

It is now safe for me to write this as I am no longer being constrained by the PSC management. And can no longer be accused of the rather mythical ‘Government Interference’..

  1. Are we heading in the right direction?
  2. What changes have been made and what can you  observe?
  3. How many of the promises in the advocacy plan came about?

I will write more on this in my next article. delving into further details. Some of these details may now be irrelevant as 2011, 2013 has come and gone. but i will evaluate what happened in 2011 and 2013 in my next write up.

The three coaches called for an advocacy plan which involved meeting with now former PATAFA President Go Teng Kok to discuss reformation and gradual changes within the athletic community. And called for a meeting of the athletic community in the Philippines which is still in the process. Read about it here.

However there are some elements in the Philippines that think more radical reforms are needed by PATAFA within the next few years not spread out over a decade on ways the dwindling sport of Track and Field in the Philippines needs to move forward towards more positive expectations and greater results.

It is not merely enough just to replace the current administration.

But you need to ensure the new administration can meet the needs of the people who support it by having well thought out plans and promises they can deliver. 

Whoever ends up as the new administration will have a difficult task ahead summed up in the words of medieval political scientist Nicolo Machiavelli

“To retain power, the hereditary prince must carefully maintain the socio-political institutions to which the people are accustomed; whereas a new prince has the more difficult task in ruling, since he must first stabilize his new-found power in order to build an enduring political structure”

Critique Action Plan

While the action plan has a very well thought out set of morals. It doesn’t exactly explain how some of these changes are going to come about.

And perhaps can delve into further details to satisfy a curious public?.

Or perhaps these questions will be answered at the mass based forum?


Selection Policy Fair Selection

SEA Games

  1. Bronze Medal Standard last sea games mandatory
  2. Selection Period Jan 1 to 2 months before sea games or set in advance by NSA and PSC/POC all agreeing upon and made known to the athletic community
  3. If more two athletes make bronze medal standard top 2 performances will be selected
  4. For events 100,200,400,100/110H, 400H events must be electronically timed and for 100/200/100/110H also requires a wind gauge present and that the wind reading be below +2.0 m/s in conjunction with the IAAF by laws.
  5. All events standards must be achieved at IAAF sanctioned meets. Performances from unofficial ‘Timed Trials’ will not be counted towards qualification.Suggestions for a Fair Selection process for RP Track and Field at SEA Games

Qualification Dates

In regards to selection, I would like to suggest the qualification period for the SEA Games be extended from 2011 SEA Games date (November 12-16) until September 2013 (over one month before the SEA Games scheduled date allows adequate time to finalize team).

Because if the medalists last SEA games are automatically included then anyone else who makes qf performances from that date on wards should be included as well its only fair why should a bronze medalist from dec 2011 be allowed an extra year to have a performance when a young/new athlete who has never competed at sea games have to do the performance in less than a year the current system makes it harder for young athletes who make the standard harder to get into the team.

This by no way disadvantages previous SEA Games medalists as they are secured in the team as there performances make the SEA Games performance required. The only way an existing medalist would concede there spot is if within the qualification period two athletes in the same event exceeded there performance during the SEA Games.

Bronze Medal minimal

The Bronze medal standard from last SEA Games should definitely be the minimal standard set. As the SEA Games is the least competitive multi-sports event the Philippines participates in we should not accept a standard lower than this for entry into the SEA Games. If this is allowed it does not set clear enough and consistent guidelines in regards to selection and can lead to disputes and conflict in the athletic community.

We should also definitely not be selecting athletes who have not made the standard over those who have already made the standard in the time frame specified. By honoring a set standard such as the SEA Games bronze medal it sets the expectations that there is a concrete/definitive performance that the athletes are aware they need to achieve. This would further motivate the athletic community and domestic depth as they will now know they all have a fair chance to qualify.

A Bronze medal is the minimal standard and not something were concessions should be allowed for selection. By expecting anything less we are merely lowering the bar of expectations and hence not raising the level of our athletes against those from other SEA Nations.

The Training Pool

One gray area right now is the training pool, members of the national team are those who medalled at the last SEA Games. However the Training pool does not seem to have clear and definite guidelines in place for what merits selection. A suggestion is that the Training pool should only comprise of athletes who have made the bronze standard from the last sea games during the qualification period,  but did not medal last SEA games.

Where can performances be achieved

We also should allow athletes to achieve performances at any meets not just at the Philippine National Games. As there are no meets leading up to the PNG it is very difficult for athletes to perform optimally. The ideal would be to create competitions leading up to the PNG if the PNG is to serve as the primary selection meet. While i strongly feel the importance of the National Games as the primary selection meet I don’t believe it should be the only selection meet.

The reason I say this is because other SEA Nations do not restrict selection to just the National meet and allow overseas performances to count towards selection of their SEA Games lineups as well as this they also host more local meets. If we allow the PNG to be the only selection meet this will handicap us again our SEA Games rivals.

Fair enough the National Championships/Games should be the premier/prestigious meet of the Philippine athletic season, right now it seems the UAAP gets better attendance and performances. The National Championships should include all the best athletes in the country including all the UAAP athletes and would be better powered with domestic meets leading up to it.






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