GenSan hosts 7th BIMP-EAGA friendship games in December

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/19 Feb) — The “Tuna Capital of the Philippines” will host the 7th friendship games among member-countries of the East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA) on December 8 to 12.

EAGA comprises Brunei, East Indonesia, East Malaysia and the Philippines’ Mindanao and Palawan.

Joaquin Loyzaga, executive director of the Philippine Sports Commission, said that aside from General Santos City, Sarangani province is also a partner in the staging of the friendship games.

The world’s best pound-for-pound fighter, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, is currently the representative of Sarangani in the House of Representative.

Pacquiao and Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez had earlier expressed support for the hosting of the 7th BIMP-EAGA friendship games.

“Among the games to be played are lawn tennis, athletics (track and field), badminton, sepak takraw, swimming and table tennis”, Loyzaga said in a statement.

He added that each country will have separate teams for boys and girls except for sepak takraw which will be exclusive for boys.

The event is open to all athletes from EAGA countries 21 years old and under.

At a high-level recent meeting, a roadshow covering the four participating countries was proposed by the General Santos City Tourism Office to help promote culture, tourism, sports and trade, and improve linkages and ties between the delegates and their respective countries along with the event itself.

Loyzaga said they are hoping to bring more sports programs outside Manila, especially in Mindanao.

Luwalhati Antonino, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority, said  the BIMP-EAGA Friendship Games is an opportunity not just for sports development but also for tourism promotion and improvement of ties among the focus areas of EAGA.

“We are advancing our BIMP-EAGA initiatives in this particular area of cooperation to promote the sub-region as a melting pot of sports talents and world class athletes while showcasing our culture” said Antonino, who is also the Philippine signing minister to EAGA.

BIMP-EAGA is an economic cooperation formally created in 1994, covering the entire Brunei Darussalam; 10 provinces in the Indonesian islands of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku and Irian Jaya; Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan in Malaysia; and Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines.

The ASEAN sub-grouping is a mechanism primarily intended to spur development in the lagging sub-economies of the member countries by boosting intra-EAGA trade, tourism and investments. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)