Cultural exchange to mark 6th BIMP-EAGA Games

The youth from the four countries' growth areas will promote their respective cultures and economic movement, among others.

"This is the first time that we will hold this program and we recognize the importance of this program," said Haji Matassim Bim Jibah, director of Brunei Ministry of Cultural, Youth and Sports during the friendship games road show here Tuesday.

He added the program, acknowledged as a significant side event of the biennial meet, will boost the growing good relationship of the four nations.

The BIMP-EAGA Friendship Games was conceived in 1995 as a venue for sports development, as well as educational and cultural exchange among athletes from the four countries.
It aims to promote opportunities to intensify interaction among peoples and governments within BIMP-EAGA other than trade and enhance unity and cooperation among the youth of participating countries through friendly sports.
Joseph Encabo, Mindanao representative to the BIMP-EAGA Sports Council, said the participants in this "holistic program" will learn the culture and economic movement, among others of Brunei and other growth areas in the region.

Eight slots are allotted to the Philippines or four apiece for Mindanao and Palawan, according to Encabo who is also the senior executive assistant to Philippine Sports Commission chairman William "Butch" Ramirez.

Asked who will represent Mindanao, he said "we are encouraging local government units to send representatives to discuss their cultures and economic movement in this holistic program".

Encabo explained that the LGU's will only shoulder the airfare to and from the venue.

The host country will bear the cost of accommodation, food and inland transportation, said Haji Jibah, adding Brunei is well prepared for the 6th edition of the Games.

Carrying the theme "Cooperation through sports", the four-nation friendship games, touted as a venue for strengthening economic cooperation in the region, will feature competitions in athletics, aquatics, sepak takraw, badminton, futsal, tennis and pencak silat.
Traditionally, the choice of events depends on the limited budget available for the athletes' transportation and needs of the host country and its growth area.
Since it also aims to promote friendship, the BIMP-EAGA sports council has preferred to feature mostly non-contact sports.

"We have already discussed the aspect of logistics issue and also the accommodation of the participants," said Haji Jibah.
There are 13 growth areas who are participating in the meet: Brunei Darrusalam, Gorontalo, East Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, South East Sulawesi and West Papua of Indonesia, Sabah, Sarawak and Federal territory of Labuan of Malaysia and Palawan and Mindanao of the Philippines.

Team Mindanao-Philippines will be composed of athletes from the island whose participation will be bankrolled by their LGUs.

"LGUs will take care of the airfare of their athletes and the rest of the operational expenses will be shouldered by the PSC," Encabo clarified.

In 2005, Team Mindanao-Philippines bannered by athletes from Davao City, Davao Oriental, Panabo City, Gen. Santos City and Koronadal City placed third overall. (Rico Biliran/MindaNews)