From the sidelines, there’s a small group cheering no end for the Philippine arnis team who competed on Sunday night at the Angeles University Foundation Gym.
As lively and animated as they were each time a Filipino competitor saw action, this same group had to console a fallen teammate who was stripped of a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games.
“Ginawa mo ang lahat, Eza. Andito lang kami ha,” said a women’s arnis team member who requested anonymity.
Other members of the squad gave Eza Rai Yalong, who was previously adjudged as winner over her Camboadian counterpart, Veannsonita Si, hugged the Filipina combatant — down and devastated — after a decision was reversed by the jurors when the latter’s group filed a protest.
A review of the match was ordered via the playback equipment and the jurors found out that Si came up with the more decisive blows.
Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation head Senator Migs Zubiri told journalists the reason why they upheld the protest of Cambodia.
“Lumapit sila sa akin and they wanted to question the result. Bilang host country, kailangang ipakita natin na patas tayo. We’re fair. Pati ako, nakita ko, medyo dehado yung ating atleta. So I said, ‘let’s take it to the jury’. I-replay natin yung fight. Mayroon tayong system, na kapag may protesta, iri-replay yung fight, bibilangin in slow motion. Unanimous, panalo yung taga-Cambodia,” said Zubiri.
According to Senator Zubiri, Cambodia, just like any other countries which have representatives in the SEA Games, are also one of those which have sacrificed and prepared for this meet.
“I’m happy for them. Naghirap rin silang mag-training ng ilang buwan at pumunta dito. Ayaw kong sabihin nila na Lutong Macau ang Pilipinas. Walang Lutong Macau dito. Let’s take it as sportsmen and women. Kapag talo, talo. Kapag panalo, panalo,” said Senator Zubiri.
“In this case, nanalo yung Cambodia and I’m happy for them. We want to show that this sport is fair, our judging is fair. There’s a protest system that we’re using, we have our playback system. Makikita talaga kung panalo or talo. We let the system work. We checked it on the play back system and we had our board of jurors who checked it out at nakita talaga, panalo si Cambodian. So let’s give it to her.”
For Senator Zubiri, losing the gold medal even if it’s already in your grasp, is a bitter pill to swallow.
“I didn’t have a chance to talk to her (Eza). Pero alam mo, ako naging atleta rin ako. Even if manalo ako at hindi mo deserved, masakit rin yun. Hindi ka makakatulog. Gusto mong lapitan yung kalaban mo at sabihin sa kanya na you won. This is martial arts. Honor system yan,” added Senator Zubiri.