MABALACAT, Pampanga -- The Philippines formally clinched the overall championship of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The host country bagged 149 gold medals, 117 silver, and 121 bronze for a total of 387, also the highest output in the event's 60-year history. It beat the Philippines' previous best finish in the 1991 edition of the games, a 91-62-86 haul.
The Philippines created some separation early in the two-week event, when the Filipinos got 10 gold medals from dancesport, and 14 from arnis. It also ended a decade-long gold medal drought in swimming, when James Deiparine finished first in the men's 100m breaststroke.
A breakthrough gold was also clinched by Sibol, the country's esports team hauled in four golds. Moreover, the country's basketball squads completed a four-tournament sweep in the men's and women's 5x5 and 3x3 competitions.
Combat sports, like kickboxing and Muay -- where the country was able to host the inaugural wai-kru event, also took center stage. The Philippine jiujitsu contingent nabbed five of 11 gold medals, with Meggie Ochoa leading the way.
Closing ceremonies 'a celebration'
In order to celebrate the host's blockbuster performance, the Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) promises an exciting closing ceremonies later this evening at the NCC Athletics Stadium in Capas, Tarlac.
Hosting duties will also be passed to Vietnam, who was the runner-up of this year's edition, after amassing 96 gold, 85 silver, and 104 bronze medals, which sums up to 285 awards.
In addition, a concert will be held, featuring Grammy-winning group Black Eyed Peas and Arnel Pineda.
"It's is a celebration. A concert for the volunteers, media, everybody," PHISGOC COO Ramon Suzara told reporters last Sunday at The Villages within the Clark Freeport Zone.
Following the tradition of SEA Games past, the best athletes from the men's and women's individual divisions will be awarded.
A group, headed by Philippine Olympic Committee Secretary-General Edwin Gastanes, was tasked to tabulate votes from the 11 national Olympic Committees following certain criteria. Also, for the first time, a Fair Play citation will be awarded.
Asian Games next?
Suzara also bared that he moved to recommend the Philippines to bid for the 2030 Asian Games, an event they last hosted in 1954.
"I think it's in the works. The nod of the President [Duterte], I hope it will be positive, we will pass [the formal bid] by next week."
POC Chairman Abraham Tolentino also doubled up on the possibility, but clarifies nothing yet is set in stone.