January 17 - A luxurious banquet celebration marked the a centenary of sport in Asia here tonight.
Although the anniversary of the 1913 Far Eastern Games was initially planned for last November, the postponement and shift of venues away from Baracay Island due to Typhoon Haiyan added extra poignancy as it was the replacement location here of Manila which hosted that inaugural Asian multi-sport event now over a century ago.
That was a fact certainly not lost on Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah and the 500 guests in attendance as they enjoyed an evening which blended the unique culture of the Philippines with the shared values and uniformity of the continent.
After a cocktail reception, following the conclusion of the OCA Executive Board Meeting this afternoon, the evening was musically framed with an opening performance by local sensation Regine Velasquez followed by a variety of other national and international stars encompassing classical, pop and Western music.
These included addresses by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Jose "Peping" Cojuangco and Thailand's Olympic Council of Asia vice president Kanokphand Chulaksem, as well as by the evening's two hosts, singer songwriter Ogie Alcaside and Philippine IOC member, and daughter of POC President Jose, Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski.
They spoke about how, despite Asia being a "symphony of races, cultures, languages and traditions" of which controlling had not always been "plain sailing", the continent was a "training ground for some of the best athletes the world had ever seen."
They also praised Sheikh Ahmad as a "visionary leader who always plays his part to make the world a better place" before the OCA and Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) President was presented with a shield in his honour by the POC.
The evening then concluded, in typically energetic and unique Asian fashion, with a spontaneous karaoke session by Malaysia's Commonwealth Games Federation President Tunku Imran, who, on finishing after several encores, received the largest cheer of the night.
If Prince Imran provided the most excitement however, it was Sheikh Ahmad's address which reverberated deepest when he spoke on his own role in Asian sport, as well as the importance of keeping tonight's celebrations, and tomorrow's General Assembly, in the Philippines.
He described Typhoon Haiyan as a "tragedy", but stressed, while it had caused the event to be delayed it had not been cancelled, before adding to thunderous applause that this was because "in Asia we never give up."
"Through our solidarity and unity we achieve our goals," he said.
"The most important thing is celebrating 100 years of our Movement."
Moving to the future, Sheikh Ahma said that " we cannot promise more than we can do, but will do our best", before insisting that "we continue the work of a generation who worked so hard to develop unity and solidarity."
"Asia will remain a main stakeholder of the Olympic Movement," he added.
January 2014: Asian sporting world arriving in Manila for OCA centenary celebrations
January 2014: For a century Asian sport has been a shining beacon for unity and progress
January 2014: Holding General Assembly in Manila shows "unity, solidarity and support" for Philippines, claims OCA President
December 2013: Postponed Olympic Council of Asia General Assembly rescheduled for Manila