Mindanao to host 2012 BIMP-EAGA friendship games

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/10 January) – The tourism potentials of Southwestern Mindanao or Region 12 in the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) circuit is getting a boost after it was chosen as host of the subgrouping’s athletic competition.

Ritchie Garcia, Philippine Sports Commission chair, said this city and nearby Sarangani province will jointly host the 7th BIMP-EAGA Friendship Games.

“It is tentatively set in December,” he said in a statement.

As a prelude to the major event, athletes from the BIMP-EAGA will compete in the Marathon Friendship Run later this week in the area.

This event came on the heels of the launching of the country’s tourism slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines.”

Unveiled by the Department of Tourism, the slogan’s Website boosted that “Wherever you go in the Philippines, it’s the Filipinos that will make your holiday unforgettable.”

“Just ask anyone who’s been here. In fact, Lonely Planet guidebook calls us ‘among the most easygoing and ebullient people anywhere’,” it added.

According to the PSC, which is organizing the event, BIMP-EAGA countries will each have a team of six runners – four males and two females – for the 42-km marathon.

Thousands of local runners from General Santos and elsewhere in Mindanao are likewise expected to take part in the 3k, 5k and 10k fun runs that will be open to both men and women athletes.

“The Philippines is honored to host the BIMP-EAGA Friendship Run as we endeavor to strengthen our relations within the sub-region through sports development,” said Sec. Luwalhati Antonino, Mindanao Development Authority chair and EAGA Signing Minister.

She added that senior sports officials and heads of delegations from the four countries are coming to Mindanao, bringing with them their teams of runners and athletes for the friendly run along the stretch of GenSan to Alabel, Sarangani and back.

Garcia said the BIMP-EAGA Marathon Friendship Run this Thursday officially launches the 7th BIMP-EAGA Friendship Games of 2012.

Expected to welcome the delegates for the marathon fun run are Gen. Santos City Mayor Darlene R. Antonino-Custodio, Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene A. Dominguez and world boxing champion and Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao.

Aside from Sarangani and General Santos, Region 12 is also comprised of the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat and the cities of Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

The BIMP-EAGA is an economic cooperation formally created in 1994 covering the border areas of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines with the goal of spawning increased investments, trade and tourism within this sub-region of the ASEAN.

It specifically covers the island economies of Brunei; North, Central, South and Southeast Sulawesi, Central, East, West and South Kalimantan, Maluku and Irian Jaya in Indonesia; Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan in Malaysia; and Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)