Tarlac, Philippines, December 11, 2019: The pride and passion of the Filipinos was on display at a rousing closing ceremony of the 30th Southeast Asian Games at the athletics stadium of New Clark City on Wednesday evening. There was much to celebrate for the host nation as the curtains came down on a hugely successful event both on and off the field. The Philippines team was presented with the overall SEA Games championship after winning 149 gold medals in a total of 386, and the welcoming spirit of the Filipinos towards the other 10 nations touched athletes and officials alike in a festive atmosphere. “Christmas has come early,” declared the chairman of organising committee PHISGOC, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano. “We Southeast Asians, we Filipinos have shown the world that we can do it and that we will do it with world-class quality. “We have hosted 530 events in 56 sports – the biggest in the history of the SEA Games…amazing athletes, amazing coaches and amazing how Filipinos welcomed our guests.” He added that, while gold, silver and bronze medals were celebrated, “more than that we celebrated each other and we celebrated every athlete who competed.” In a moving part of the speech, Cayetano spoke of the sacrifice and dedication of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who had left their families behind to provide a better living for their children and relatives back home in the Philippines. “We do not forget the 10 million Filipinos abroad. We dedicate the 149 gold medals to our OFWs.” He described the 30th SEA Games as a “world-class sporting event” and declared that sport would become a national priority with a sports high school offering full scholarship and grassroots programmes around the country. The SEA Games Federation flag was passed to Vietnam as the host of the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi in 2021. The Philippines flag was carried by surfing hero Roger Casugay, who put personal glory to one side to rescue a stricken rival from Indonesia who had been separated from his board and was being battered by huge waves in the seas off San Juan, La Union province. Casugay, who went on to win the gold medal a couple of days later, was praised for his sportsmanship and humanity in a tweet from Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo and received the 30th SEA Games Fair Play award at the closing ceremony. Golden swimmers Nguyen Thi Anh Vien and Quah Zheng Wen were named Female MVP and Male MVP respectively. Vietnam’s “Little Mermaid” Anh Vien won six gold medals and two silvers and Quah was responsible for six of Singapore’s 23 gold medals in the pool, plus two silvers. Anh Vien, 23, now has a total of 25 SEA Games gold, eight silver and two bronze medals in five appearances dating back to 2011 in Indonesia. Music was provided by soft rock star Arnel Pineda and by the Black Eyed Peas as the SEA Games party came to a close for another two years.