MANILA: Beauty queens, beautifully choreographed performances and Black Eyed Peas' apl.de.ap took centre stage as the 30th SEA Games were declared open on Saturday (Nov 30).
Attended by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the opening ceremony was packed with performances that beautifully highlighted Filipino culture.
This is the first time in Games history that the opening ceremony has been held indoors, at the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
While complaints about transport, accommodation and food have been reported in the lead-up to the multi-sport event, the song and dance extravaganza went off without a hitch.
After a rendition of the Philippines national anthem by singer Lani Misalucha, the show kicked off with performers, dressed in the bright colours of the Sarimanok, a legendary bird of the Maranao people from Mindanao, taking to the stage.
This was followed by a series of traditional Filipino dances from different regions in the Philippines, giving a taste of the rich cultural heritage of the country.
Next up - the athletes' parade with the various contingents marching into the arena, led by local beauty queens.
Team Singapore’s contingent was headed by flag bearer Samuel Kang, who won a gold medal for Singapore in the men’s jumbo doubles at the last edition of the Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Kang will be competing in three events - men's singles and team, and mixed team.
Marching in with Kang were sportsmen and women from the Ice Hockey, Squash and Sepak Takraw teams as well as a support team, all clad in signature red blazers and khaki chinos.
"The next eleven days will be eventful, historic and full of exciting sports action," said Philippines Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino in a speech.
"After 14 years, we're again hosting the SEA Games, the long wait is over. With the unwavering support of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, we're now opening the best and the biggest SEA Games in history."
After Mr Duterte officially declared the Games open, it was time for Black Eyed Peas rapper apl.de.ap to wow the crowd with a rap performance of Bebot.
Then came the symbolic lighting of the cauldron with Filipino boxing champions Manny Pacquiao and Nesthy Petecio igniting the flame at New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.
This year's SEA Games will take place in the cities of Clark, Manila and Subic from Nov 30 to Dec 11. There will be a total of 530 events contested in the games.
Team Singapore will be competing in events including aquatics, netball, squash, table tennis, wushu and athletics.
Some athletes will also be making their debut in new sports like breakdancing, e-sports, beach handball, jiu-jitsu, kurash, sambo, skateboarding, surfing, as well as underwater hockey.
Team Singapore has sent its biggest away contingent to the SEA Games this year, with 666 athletes from 48 sports.
In 2017, Team Singapore’s contingent of 560 athletes in Kuala Lumpur won 58 gold, 59 silver and 71 bronze medals.