Early morning, Filipinos woke up on a bitter note. Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra accused the 23rd South East Asian Games host country of cheating, rigging the results in favor of the Filipino athletes.
Many Filipinos would just shrug it off as a comment from a sore loser, since Philippines is currently (as of this writing) in the lead of having the most gold medals so far, with Vitenam trailing second and Thailand placing third.
Accusations of cheating in sports events is never new. We Filipinos have a term for it: LUTONG MAKAW (Macanese Cuisine). Don't ask me what Macau has to do with cheating and rigging.
But PM Shinawatra cannot be blamed of smelling the aroma of Macanese Food being served in age-old Philippine stadia. For one, their goal of 114 gold medals in the SEA Games is now considered an impossibile dream. Second, some of his prized athletes settled for silver against, well what do you know, Filipinos, especially in "subjective" events like diving, taekwondo, boxing, and the like.
But sad as it may seem, his observation is somewhat true. Just today, a Filipino runner was stripped of his gold medal in the 5000m race after finding out that he tried to push aside his Thai opponent at the homestretch. That same Thai earlier settled for a silver medal in the 10,000m race against the same Filipino runner.
Don't get me wrong. I am proud of our Filipino athletes. I am happy that they are winning, and I hope they continue winning. But what I want to point out is that I hope their performance at the SEA Games will be at par when the Asian Games come, or better yet, the 2008 Beijing Olympics. I hope they will perform better than Thailand and Vietnam. Only then we can conclude that our athletes don't need the help of certain officials to win.