A Week In Victory: From Bianca Bustamante To The 2023 SEA Games

The Philippines has cause for celebration.

Race driver Bianca Bustamante beams with pride as the Philippine flag is projected behind her, the national anthem playing in the background. On Saturday, the 18-year-old amassed the feat of becoming the first Filipino racer to win a Formula 1 Academy race in Valencia, Spain.

“100 emotions in [five minutes],” she says in the heartfelt Twitter announcement of her win. “Thank you everyone for believing in me.”

Hot off the heels of Bustamante’s victory, the Philippines continues to make a strong start at the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia with 19 gold medalists, 31 silver medalists, and 35 bronze medalists so far, CNN Philippines reports.

Kaila Napolis and Angel Gwen Derla brought home the gold in jiu-jitsu and kun bokator respectively, even ahead of the event’s opening ceremony on Friday, May 5th.

They are followed by Precious Cabuya and Mark Julius Rodelas, who set world records in the obstacle course race the next day. Saturday’s wins didn’t stop there: Sakura Alforte wins gold for karate, Annie Ramirez for jiu-jitsu, and Matthew Hermosa, Inaki Lorbes, Kira Ellis, and Erica Burgos for aquathlon mixed relay.

Sunday’s SEA Games gold medalists include the women’s obstacle course relay team—Sandi Menchi Abahan, Mecca Cortizano, Milky Mae Tejares, and Marites Nocyao—and men’s obstacle course relay team Ahgie Radan, Elias Tabac, Mervin Guarte, and Jay-ar de Castro, Kim Mangrobang for women’s individual duathlon, Jamie Lim for karate, and Noelle Zoleta-Mañalac and Princess Catindig for soft tennis. Jiu-jitsu fighter Marc Lim follows up with the Philippines’ thirteenth gold medal later in the day.

On Monday, history is made once more as Team SIBOL, composed of Aaron Mark Bingay, Chammy Paul Nazarrea, Golden Hart Dajao, Justine Richie Tan, and Reniel Angara, deliver the Philippines’ first gold in esports. Festivities continue with Fernando Casares winning gold for men’s triathlon, Carlos Yulo for gymnastics, Robin Catalan for kun bokator, Xiandi Chua for swimming, and EJ Obiena for men’s pole vault. 

While Philippine teams are still gunning for gold after placing fourth in the last SEA Games in Vietnam, Filipinos worldwide still have much to be proud of as the fight to continue the country’s winning streak never ceases.

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