2005 Southeast Asian Games opening ceremony

The 2005 Southeast Asian Games Opening Ceremony was held at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, Philippines on November 27, 2005. For the first time in the history of the Southeast Asian Games, the opening ceremony was held in an open-air location. [http://www.manilatimes.net/others/special/2004/oct/31/20041031spe1.html "Pinoy hosting of 2005 SEA Games now more of a reality"] , The Manila Times. Online version available and retrieved on 2007-06-22.] Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, led the nation in welcoming more than 7,000 athletes, officials and members of the participating countries – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste (East Timor), Vietnam and Team Philippines. The ceremony was attended by a record-breaking 200,000 spectators. Renowned director Maria Montelibano was in charge of the overall program direction, while Ryan Cayabyab and Robert Tongco were in charge of musical and dance direction, respectively. Creative director Pogs Mendoza and assistant director Bebot Pondevida designed the stage. [http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/storypage.aspx?StoryId=21692 "All is set for grand Games opening"] , ABS-CBNNews.com. Retrieved on 2007-06-22.] The opening ceremony was broadcast live throughout Southeast Asia. The ceremony also highlighted Filipino talent and ingenuity; the light and sound equipment, stage components and even the fireworks were all Philippine-made.



The Games opening started with the parade of the Philippine flag, carried by members of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines. Following the flag were Boy Scouts of the Philippines and Girl Scouts of the Philippines from Sienna College and some of the host country's best athletes and SEA Games alumni, basketball star Allan Caidic, sprinter Lydia de Vega-Mercado, boxer Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco, swimmer Akiko Thomson, sharpshooter Nathaniel "Tac" Padilla, taekwondo star Monsour del Rosario, equestrian champion Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, bowler Paeng Nepomuceno and world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao. The now defunct San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra and the San Miguel Master Chorale, under the baton of Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, rendered the Philippine National Anthem.After the national anthem, a colorful cultural dance was presented by the world-renowned Bayanihan Dance Troupe and Jocson Tribe groups. [http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2005/nov/27/yehey/top_stories/20051127top1.html "Let the Games begin"] , The Manila Times. Online version available and retrieved on 2007-06-22.]

Parade of Athletes

Leading the athletes was the SEA Games Federation Flag, carried by champion swimmer Eric Buhain, sprint queen Elma Muros-Posadas, badminton player Weena Lim, Mansueto Velasco, Monsour del Rosario and Paeng Nepomuceno. Brunei Darussalam led the Parade of Nations. After the entry of the delegation of Vietnam, Ati-Atihan dancers performed on stage and a large Philippine flag was unfurled by the volunteers from Gawad Kalinga to welcome Team Philippines, who wore stylized red and blue royal blue ramie linen barongs and "salakot" (A traditional wide-brimmed hat made of indigenous fibers, which is common in the region.) designed by international designer, Eric Pineda. [http://www.mb.com.ph/issues/2005/11/25/SPRT2005112549960.html "RP bets to wear barong, salakot at Luneta march"] , The Manila Bulletin. Online version available and retrieved on 2007-06-22.] Throughout the parade, the Orchestra and the Chorale provided the score. Each of the participating countries were honored when each of the flag bearers waived their colors in front of the stage one by one, a first in the opening ceremonies of the games.

#The three flagbearers represents the country's three major ethnic groups, Malay, Chinese and Indian.
# The Thai delegation was accompanied by Her Royal Highness, Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana
# Team Philippines was accompanied by Miss International 2005, Precious Lara Quigaman, current WBC Lightweight Champion, Manny Pacquiao and local celebrity, Angel Locsin.

Cultural Program

After the parade of nations, the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra and the San Miguel Master Chorale performed the SEA Games Overture to welcome the athletes. Bayang Barrios led the colorful song and dance number, "Ang Alamat ng Timog Silangan" ("The Legend of the Southeast"), signifying the theme for the games, "One Heritage, One Southeast Asia." The ten-minute number featured the talents of the Bayanihan Dance Troupe, Hot Legs and various volunteer dancers from different schools around the country. The number ended with a presentation of dances from different Southeast Asian countries and the entrance of the flags of the participating nations, to the delight of the crowd and the athletes.

Speeches and the Opening of the Games

Southeast Asian Games Federation Chairman and Philippine Olympic Committee President Jose Cojuangco then gave a keynote speech inspiring athletes to perform their best in their events. He added that the host country is not just aspiring to win as many medals as it could but to show its good hospitality among its guests. Despite his removal as chair of the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee three months ago, Roberto Pagdanganan was given the task of introducing the guest of honor, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The President entered the stage and formally declared the games open. To signify the opening of the games, fireworks lit the sky, and the SEA Games Flag was raised. Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski led the oath of sportsmanship and Cesar Mateo, the pledge for officiating judges. Singapore-based Filipino singer, Julia Abueva sang the theme, "We're All Just One"," composed by Jose Mari Chan and written by Rene Nieva.

Arrival of the flame and the lighting of the cauldron

Equestrienne Toni Leviste, riding a horse, carried the torch in front of the Rizal Monument before passing it to Olympian Maria Antoinette Rivero. The flame came all the way from Vietnam, host of the previous games, while the torch came from the last Asian Games in Busan. Rivero then crossed the Roxas Boulevard by parting the crowd all the way to the Grandstand stage. She lit a small cauldron, extinguishing the torch. Then, the flame made its way to the large cauldron, signaling the start of the games.

Conclusion of the ceremony

The opening ceremony ended with a 45-minute concert. Local band Rivermaya, together with the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra, played the SEA Games song, "Posible," which inspired athletes that a medal win is possible. A fireworks display was on show during the performance.


The Opening Ceremony was broadcasted live and uninterrupted in the Philippines, simultaneously by the Associated Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Network and the Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation. In Singapore, the ceremony was broadcasted on Mediacorp Channel 5, in Thailand by Channel 5 and in Vietnam by VTV Channel 3. Mabuhay Satellite transmitted the ceremony to international broadcasters through the Aguila 2 satellite.

Welcome Ceremonies

Cebu City and other satellite venues opened the 23rd Southeast Asian Games days earlier with pomp and pageantry. The SEA Games welcome ceremonies served as the “appetizer” for the formal opening in Manila.

The Welcome Ceremony in Cebu were held in the Cebu City Sports Complex. During the rites, Sinulog dancers welcomed the athletes from the participating nations. During the entry of each country, various schools and colleges from Cebu performed one of the participating country's dance. Though, no one represented Timor Leste in the Parade, the flag still entered the stadium. The Cebu ceremony received raved reviews from its people but was also marred by criticism as well as funding irregularities. The opening had a sell out crowd of 20,000 people but this is due to the allegations that the local organizers heavily slashed ticket prices. The organizers were criticized for selling the SEA Games with "dirt cheapness".

In Bacolod City, the welcome rites were held in the Panaad Stadium, the site of the Men's Football competitions. As expected, the city's Maskara Festival became the theme of the ceremony. In Subic, the theme was "Barrio Fiesta," which featured traditional dances and songs of the Aeta tribe. Similar welcome ceremonies were also held in the Marikina Sports Complex and at the Trace Aquatic Complex in Los Baños, Laguna.


* The article has also been checked against video of the Opening Ceremony provided online by VTV-3 Vietnam.

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