Parantac saves day for Filipinos
By: June Navarro (Philippine Daily Inquirer)

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar—Wushu artist Daniel Parantac averted a gold medal shutout Tuesday for the Philippines on the eve of the formal opening ceremonies of the 27th Southeast Asian Games here.

On a day of misadventures and near misses, Parantac raised the golden output of the Filipinos to three as the taolu specialist from Baguio City scored 19.38 points in the taijiquan-taijijian despite a minor glitch in his routine to beat Myanmar’s Nyein Chan Ko Ko (19.33) and rule the two-event competition.

It was a fitting conclusion to an impressive show by the wushu athletes, who jumpstarted the Philippine campaign by adding three silver and two bronze medals.

World-class sanda warriors Jessie Aligaga and Dembert Arcita earlier accounted for the two other gold medals while lady sanda fighters Divine Wally and Evita Elise Zamora placed second in their respective weight classes.

Also contributing to the country’s cause was the trio of Parantac, John Keithley Chan and Norlene Ardee Catolico, who missed victory by a hairline and settled for silver in the men’s duilian.

“We did our part. It’s now up to the rest of our contingent here to do theirs,” said wushu federation secretary general Julian Camacho.

Grappler Jason Balabal, the delegation’s designated flag-bearer from Benquet, suffered an unexpected blow in the men’s 84 kg Greco Roman after Cambodia’s Koa Cheng Houng, a wrestler of North Korean descent who lacked striking credentials, caught him helpless on the mat for a 4-3 victory.

Balabal, a gold medalist in the 2009 and 2011 Games, duplicated the silver-medal finish of Margarito Angana, another favored grappler who blew his chance in the men’s 55 kg on Monday.

Filipino boxers, however, gave the lean 210-athlete delegation here a reason to smile.

They are now assured of one silver and nine bronze medals following a pair of quarterfinal victories courtesy of light fly Mark Anthony Barriga and lightweight Junel Cantancio.

The London Olympian Barriga escaped with a narrow victory over Vietnam’s Huynh Ngoc Tan while Cantancio had a relatively easy time scoring a 30-27 win over Keochi Xayyasone of Laos.

Earlier assured of the silver was featherweight Nesthy Petecio, who defeated Thai Tassamalee Tsongjan in the quarterfinals while seven other boxers—light welterweight Dennis Galvan, flyweight Rey Saludar, bantamweight Mario Fernandez, welterweight Wilfredo Lopez, bantamweight Iris Magno, flyweight Maricris Igam and light flyweight Josie Gabuco—also advanced to the semifinals.

A surefire bet for the gold, the men’s basketball team came out stronger this time after a jittery start against Singapore, demolishing the Cambodians, 107-57, for its second straight victory.

But Perlas Pilipinas saw its title hopes slip away after defending champion Thailand crushed the women’s basketball team, 75-36, in a virtual gold-medal match at Zayar Thiri Indoor Stadium.

Perlas dropped to 1-1 with two games remaining against Myanmar and Indonesia in the single-round tournament.

The Malditas, the women’s football squad, suffered the same fate against Myanmar, 2-0, in Mandalay, 300 km north of this fast-developing capital city.

Over at the Ngalike Dam, paddler Hermie Macaranas salvaged the bronze in the men’s C1 1000-meter canoeing competition despite a strong start opposite Myanmar’s Win Htike (4:15.95) and Spens Stuber of Indonesia (4:21.43). Macaranas, a Philippine National Games champ, clocked 4:30.78.

The Philippine flag was officially raised for the Games on Tuesday with delegation officials and athletes attending the ceremony at the Athletes Village here.