In two months, the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games will commence and about 10,000 athletes, coaches and sports officials from 11 countries will be participating.
There will also be this big group of volunteers that will play a crucial role in presenting the very best of our Filipino culture — our hospitality.
About 9,000 volunteers will be deployed in all critical areas from the airports were all our guests will arrive to hotels and billeting areas and, of course, in all competition venues. Being a volunteer isn’t easy, especially when you have to be with your designated assignment from start to finish.
It starts with the airport.
Since this will be the first thing that foreign delegates will be seeing upon landing, the volunteers will have to coordinate with the immigration and customs personnel to ensure a smooth flow of their arrival. Then, they have to secure another closed van to make sure that suitcases and sports equipment would arrive safely to the billeting areas and competitive venues.
I mentioned this important aspect because long lines often greet our visitors at the airport. It wouldn’t be a surprise if our SEA Games guests experience that. So I’m sure the Bureau of Immigration would do its part and add additional special SEA Games booth in all airports.
One fine example of this challenge for volunteers is if the assignment would be the shooting team.
Coordination with the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines must be done ahead of time so that guns and ammunitions of the visiting teams will be taken care of.
Another challenge would be the special meal plans that some teams and countries would need. Of course, we know that some of them are not willing to try our dishes and it might affect their digestive system come competition time.
With that, the volunteers must coordinate with the hotels and billeting areas so that they would prepare special food and packed meals. This will not be easy as the volunteers may have to determine the time the food will be needed and special transport arrangement should there be need for separate deliveries.
Transport is also crucial.
Teams may need not just vans or buses for themselves, but also special trucks to bring in the large sport equipment like canoes, kayaks or pole vaults to the competition venues. All of these will have to be taken care of by the assigned volunteer.
But the question remains: Are all our competition venues ready? I ask that because with only two months to go, our volunteers need to familiarize themselves with the flow of each and every venue. If they will be deployed in the airports, they should be able to access the immigration and customs office as early as possible so that necessary requirements would be in place long before our SEA Games guests arrive.
If they will be deployed in the billeting areas, then they need to know whom to coordinate for room adjustments, special meals and packed meals for delivery. They need to have access to these billeting officers as soon as possible.
If they will be deployed in competition venues, then, they need to know the inner workings of each venue. They should know where they would drop off the participants, the parking of team vans and buses and access to the locker rooms and emergency assistance among others.
Our volunteers will need all the help we can give them.
They are not getting any remuneration for the service they will provide for the success of our hosting so we might as well not make life difficult for them.
All of them have strong desire to represent the Filipino people and serve the nation.
As volunteers, all they wish is the once-in-a lifetime opportunity to contribute towards the success of our hosting of the SEA Games.
As our SEA Games battlecry goes, winning as one is about unity and coming together to show our Southeast Asian neighbors that we will win their hearts as hosts. And together with our selfless and passionate volunteers, we will.
As stated in the official website: “The 30th SEA Games will require the patience and passion of everyone to make it a success. Together, let us make the Filipinos proud.”
Sincerest and heartfelt thanks to all volunteers.