By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
Two Ilonggos are coaching two national teams competing in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games which opens on Nov 30, 2019.
John Lozada, 46, of Brgy. Cahigon, Calinog, Iloilo coaches the Philippine Men’s Track and Field Team while Sean Guevara, 43, from Trapiche, Oton serves as the training director and head coach of the Philippine Athletics Team both competing for the SEA Games.
Lozada, a proud member of the Panay Bukidnon community in Calinog, represented the country in the six editions of SEA Games where he bagged several gold, silver, and bronze medals.
“Nagcompete man ko six years sa local meet before ko makasulod sa national team in 1996 and nakahampang sa SEA games sa 1997,” he said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
Lozada bagged two gold medals during the 2001 and 2003 SEA Games for the 800-meter run and 1,500-meter run event.
He also bagged two silver medals in 2001 and 1999 SEA Games and four bronze medals from 1999-2005.
He represented the country for almost 11 years in the field of athletics and was able to serve as a coach of the University of the Philippines (UP) Track and Field Team before finally coaching the national team.
Meanwhile, Guevara was also a national athlete before he started his career in coaching.
He is a national record-holder in high jump and represented the Philippines in the 1999 and 2001 SEA Games where he bagged bronze and silver medals respectively.
The country’s hosting of the SEA Games received backlash due to reports of failures in logistics, food, and accommodation for the athletes.
But for the two Ilonggos coaches, hosting mishaps are “normal” in any competition especially in the first days.
“Normal yung pagkukulang sa dami ng competition na na-attend ko simula mga 1999 SEA Games up to world championships. Every competition wala perfect dun lalo sa first days,” Guevara said.
President Rodrigo Duterte was also “displeased” when he heard that foreign athletes encountered difficulties in food and accommodation, according to Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
The President even wanted an investigation on the purported hosting mishaps of the organizers.
Guevara and Lozada, who are currently in one of the venues particularly in New Clark City (NCC) in Capas, Tarlac, said they have not encountered any “major” difficulties.
“Nandito ako sa field and preparation sa New Clark City. Wala namang problema akong nakita sa venue. Except siguro yung mga nauna naming problema minor lang like yung venue ng training and mga equipment,” Lozada said.
Instead, Guevara said the public should turn negative issues into positivity by being proud of the country’s hosting.
“Yung mga negative pwede i-turn ito positive. Sana suportahan natin yung SEA Games na hosting sa Pilipinas, kailangan mangin proud tayo sa hosting natin,” he said.
Amidst issues clouding the country’s hosting of the SEA Games, the two thanked Ilonggos for their unwavering support.
They also urged the Ilonggo athletes to continue working hard to be able to reach their goals.
“Sa mgakababayan ko sa Iloilo lalonasamgabata, pagpapatuloylangnila ang paglalaronila at maraming Salamat sasuporta,” Lozada said.