Mindanawons led by Davao City’s diving sensation Shiela Mae Perez and South Cotabato’s Henry Dagmil contributed numerous gold medals when the Filipinos reigned supreme in the SEAG which the country hosted two years ago.
Perez won three gold medals while Dagmil pocketed two, one coming from the hotly-contested long jump event which he ruled in record-breaking fashion.
Perez and Dagmil will banner their respective events in the Bangkok SEAG where the Philippines will be sending more than 400 athletes for its title-retention bid.
Though Perez and Dagmil are both recuperating from injuries, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman William “Butch” Ramirez was optimistic they could still deliver the goods for the country.
"She (Perez) has an injury, but she is set for Seag," said Ramirez who proudly told sports journalists here that the RP diving team is mostly composed of Dabawenyos.
Joining Perez in the Dabawenyo-dominated diving team are Jaime Asok, Niño Carog and Zandro Domenios who also won gold medals during the 2005 RP Seag.
Dagmil, who is still recuperating from a left hamstring injury he sustained in May during his training in Temekula, Southern California , will also be joined by several Mindanawons in the track squad, including Seag first-timer Jho-anne Banayag of Davao City.
Cue artist Lee Van Corteza of Davao City is also expected to win a gold medal in the Thailand Seag.
Batters Edmer Del Socorro and Ruel Batuto who played vital roles when the Philippines beat Thailand in the finals are still in the official roster of the RP baseball squad.
The other Dabawenyos who will see action in Bangkok are Mary Anne Basas of billiards, Anna Celina Gonzales of swimming, Ruth Dugaduga of judo, Frazier and Norton Alamara and Mansueto Pelenio of water polo and Merlo Albano and Rachelle Delos Reyes of football and golfers Jhonnel Ababa and Jay Bayron.
Ramirez acknowledged it would not be easy to defend the title in Thailand , although he remained confident the Filipino athletes are capable of doing it.
“We will go there to win and defend the overall crown not by finishing second, “he said.
Ramirez said the government is spending P100 million for the country's title-retention bid.
"We will not spend P100 million to be second. As a leader, you don't want to fight to be second. You fight to win,” he added.