With an aim to promote a healthy lifestyle and sporting culture in the ASEAN region, as well as to drumbeat the upcoming 29th Southeast Asian Games and the 9th ASEAN Para Games, the second leg of the #RisingTogether Baton Run was held in Manila last Sunday, 12 March 2017 following its successful launch in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.
During the kick-off ceremony, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that the #RisingTogether Baton Run is a “celebration of the growing strength and cooperation between ASEAN nations”. Malaysian Ambassador, H.E. Yang Berbahagia Dato’ Raszlan Abdul Rashid, handed the baton to Usec. Abella who in turn passed it to Olympic silver-medalist Hidilyn Diaz. Diaz then led the run from the starting point at the Malacañang grounds up to the first station located at the Philippine Normal University.
Other baton carriers were Olympians Josephine Medina, Marestella Torres-Sunang and Mary Joy Tabala; the Gilas Pilipinas squad; NCAA athletes; designated runners from the Office of the President; and Para Athletes from the Philippine Sports Association of the Differently Abled (PHILSPADA).
Accompanying the athletes were hundreds of participants and volunteers from different national government agencies, the Armed Forces, local government units, and educational institutions. Rimau, the official mascot of the Kuala Lumpur 2017 Games, and a band of percussionists rode floats decked with colorful balloons, added to the festive spirit of the occasion.
As one of the invited agencies to the #RisingTogether Baton Run,
Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo was represented during the event by Assistant Secretary Jose Antonio R. Hernandez of OAS-Special Concerns. During the closing program held at the CCP Activity Area, Asec. Hernandez, together with other officials and dignitaries from ASEAN countries, witnessed the return of the baton which was handed by Philippine Sports Commission Chairperson William Ramirez to the Malaysian Ambassador, who then passed it over to Lao PDR Deputy Ambassador Souksanith Vongphangkham. Laos is slated to host the third leg of the #RisingTogether baton Run on 19 March 2017.
Speaking in behalf of the Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin, Ambassador Raszlan hoped that the activity “will truly reflect the spirit of togetherness and unity among the peoples of Southeast Asia.” In response, PSC Chairperson Ramirez thanked the Malaysian Organizing Committee (MASOC) and all those who made the Manila leg of the #RisingTogether Baton Run successful.
“In behalf of the Filipinos and in the spirit of true friendship, we are willing to continue the journey of rising together as ASEAN,” said Ramirez.
For its part, the DSWD, with Sec. Taguiwalo as Chairperson of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) for 2017, conveyed her fullest support to the activity especially since it is in line with the goal to make the ASEAN people-oriented, people-centered promoting the appreciation of cultural heritage and strengthening of the ASEAN cultural identity through sports and games. Aside from DSWD, the ASCC Pillar is composed of other line government agencies and executive offices including the Philippine Sports Commission. ###