Malacanang is exhorting the 11-man Philippine team to the London Olympics to bring home medals, perhaps unaware that save for two athletes, the small delegation is made up of wild card entries and token representatives.
Representing President Noynoy Aquino during the sendoff party for the athletes on Monday night in Taguig, Enery Secretary Rene Almendras read the President's three-page message, urging the Filipino athletes to go for glory.
"The Olympic dream is not about ego, or showmanship, but sportsmanship. Competitions are a means to an end: understanding, cooperation, and peace among nations. The Olympics stands for our success, as a global community, in unifying the world in the name of sport once every four years."
"As much the Olympics is about international cooperation, we still want to win recognition for our country; and we want the athletes we are sending off today to do precisely that. We want them to stand atop the podium with medals around their necks, bringing glory tour nation an d filling the hearts of each Filipino with pride," Almendras said.
Only seven of the 11 athletes who will compete in London were on hand since Tomohiko Hoshina of judo and Daniel Caluag of BMX are honing their skills overseas, while the latest additions-archers Mark Javier and Rachel Cabral-were still traveling back from the US where they secured berths to the July 27 to Aug. 27 London Games.
In attendance were Marestela Torres and Rene Herrera of athletics, Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie King Lacuna of swimming, Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, Mark Anthony Barriga of boxing and Brian Rosario of shooting.
Also basking in the Olympic experience include Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose 'Peping' Cojuangco (POC) and POC chairman Monico Puentevella, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia, International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines Frank Elizalde, London Games chief of mission Manny Lopez and tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan, the country's biggest sports patron.
Also present were shooting president Mikee Romero of Harbour Centre and ISTCI owner Enrique Razon.
Pangilinan assured everyone that while the country is sending a small number of athletes, it doesn't mean the effort they will exert is minimal.
"It's not a question of numbers but a question of skills and heart. We are behind our athletes. We assure you of our support," said Pangilinan.
Cojuangco, the President's uncle, said: "They're already winners. A lot of effort and determination to become an Olympian. What they're going to do in London is going to be everybody's guess. These athletes are doing these for their country. This is not about money but for the country."
Still, Malacanang knows the quality of opposition that the Filipino athletes will encounter as it softened up a bit in its stand urge them to vie for honors.
"You have our best wishes. Win or lose, you will come home to a nation that holds its head higher than ever before. We are in this together, in this Olympiad, and in the coming Olympiads: a Philippines where all Filipinos, whether in competitive sports or other professions, all strive for world class excellence."
The Philippines has so far won nine Olympic medals, two silvers and seven bronzes, since its initial foray in the quadrennial event in 1924 in Paris .
Boxer Onyok Velasco last brought home a medal, a silver, in the 1996 Atlanta Games.