Full text of Senator Pia S. Cayetano’s sponsorship speech on Senate Resolution No. 715, commending and congratulating the Philippine Women’s National Football Team, also known as the ‘Filipinas,’ for their phenomenal and historic performance at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Thank you, Mr. President. Earlier, our Majority Floor Leader acknowledged the presence of some of the members of the team and the administrative staff, your honors.
But allow me to walk you through the experience of a lifetime for me. And also, this will serve as my official report of my trip to New Zealand.
Mr. President, the 2023 FIFA World Cup was hosted by Australia and New Zealand. The Philippine team played in New Zealand. So this representation had the privilege of being the head of delegation of the Philippine team. In fact, if their honors would recall, some time in February, I also delivered a similar speech wherein I informed the body that I was also the head of delegation during their tune-up tournament in Spain. So that was the tune-up tournament for this big event, your honors.
So, since the team was in New Zealand, they played in three different locations, this was Dunedlin, Wellington, and Auckland. And Wellington is actually the seat of government in New Zealand, and thus I deemed it necessary to visit the New Zealand Parliament, and I was accompanied by our Ambassador, Kira Azucena. And I just want to share with you because our Sen. Nancy Binay has been working very hard on our new Senate building, and the New Zealand Parliament was very inspirational. So this is just a very short clip where the New Zealand Parliament welcomed me…
Mr President, what I wanted to share here is that they had their question hour. And I was very interested in how it worked, because within one hour, I learned so much about the issues of New Zealand. I was having this conversation, I think with the Senate President and Majority Floor Leader, that it’s not about being with the ruling party, with the opposition. It can be set up that way, but really, I feel like we would save so much hearing time if we utilized the question hour that is also in our Constitution. Because you are limited in time, within one hour lang talaga. Hindi a Senate minute. It’s really, really one hour, where there are 15 questions submitted and they really ask those questions and may follow -up pa within an hour, your honor. Andami ko talaga natutunan within an hour.
Anyway, we move on… The way it works for those who are not familiar with the parliamentary system, the Prime Minister is actually there and all the other ministers, members of parliament, that’s why the question and answer was very efficient. Obviously, they were in session, as you saw in the video, I was up. I didn’t get a chance to meet them.
But later on that day, part of my official duties was to sit near the New Zealand Prime Minister, and you can imagine how difficult that is, your honor. Kasi ako yung last man sitting sa Philippines tapos puro New Zealand na yung katabi ko sa kabila. So ang hirap naman magwala. And then nanalo pa tayo. But that’s part two of my story. So yun nga po, I got the chance to meet Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and the other people I met were the Minister of Finance and Sports, Mr. Grant Robertson, the Wellington Mayor, a female, Ms. Tory Whanau, and Minister of Economic Development, Internal Affairs, and Pacific People, Ms Barbara Edmonds. Interestingly, your honors, there are only five million people in New Zealand. And even the members of parliament, there are not that many of them so many of them hold multiple positions. So kung hindi kayo nagtataka, ang nabanggit ko Minister of Finance and Sports. But it’s a good thing for sports. Sen. Angara, can you imagine if you were the Minister of Finance and then Sports? You will accept? Okay, we have a candidate, your honor. Just kidding.
So anyway, I had a lengthy discussion with the Minister of Finance and Sports, because our topic was how they promoted women in sports in New Zealand. And you would think, for countries like them that have really immersed themselves in sports, they wouldn’t have to have a program like that. But they actually still have a program on how to improve the participation of women in sports. I’ll go into that another time, your honor. But what struck me aside from the usual, financing, that’s why I commend this Senate who have done so much in financing sports just in the last few years. I am happy that I am surrounded by sporty colleagues… many of whom are still capable of being on the court, and I am looking at the Majority Floor Leader, Sen. Angara, Sen. Bong Go is over there, pero yung mga champion team natin ng basketball, by the way, ladies… UNTV Cup, they won the same day you won the goal [vs New Zealand]. So they were very inspired by you.
But the interesting conversation I had with the Minister of Sports was the importance of television and network coverage. Because if you don’t give women’s sports enough coverage, you don’t give the rest of the people the opportunity to see how these women are performing. So I found that very important, and I feel that it is something that we should talk about more, and see what we can do because I am also a soccer mom, and it’s very hard to get coverage for women’s sports. And I remember, when the team that my daughters were playing for, the University of the Philippines, was playing in the finals, the game was at 2 o’clock PM during the summer time. And I said, bakit naman ganun ang oras? These kids might faint. And the reason was that’s the only time the network gave. So that to me is a disservice to our athletes when we make them adjust. I know there are economic things to consider, but I am just saying that these are things that we can improve on.
So I move on, your honors. To be clear, your honors, this was not an easy journey. I had people ask me, and that’s why I will repeat it. You don’t just apply for the World Cup and show up. You don’t just… for example, I am a marathoner, I am a triathlete. Truly, I can pay a fee and join a triathlon or a marathon, except for the Boston Marathon where you have to qualify and pay a higher fee to do a sponsored run and then you donate.
But in the World Cup, you have to have a slot, and you do that by playing again and again and qualifying in various tournaments. So not only is this a tremendous requirement in terms of the time and of course the quality of sports performance required of our athletes, but also in terms of funding from whoever is funding. And the funder of this team is sitting over there, Mr. Jeff Cheng, very quietly sitting over there.
So the Filipinas qualified for the FIFA World Cup last January 2022, a year and a half ago, after they advanced in the semi-finals of the Asian Football Confederation, otherwise known as the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, making it the first time for any Philippine football team, either men’s or women’s, to secure a spot in the FIFA World Cup.
So Mr President, the Majority Floor Leader has acknowledged everyone who’s with us, so I won’t go through that anymore… The very first game played was Philippines vs Switzerland. And I belatedly am going to stress out to my staff because I was just gonna say, but I think it would be nice to show… May I see a raise of hands from our dear colleagues, how many of you know that the first goal was actually made by the Philippines in this PH vs Switzerland. But it was considered offside, right? Who made the goal? That lady over there [points to Filipinas forward Katrina Guillou] made the goal. Stand up naman. So she made the goal. I also had a video, I was screaming, but it was ruled as offside. So limited tayo, those are technicalities, of course, that wala talaga tayong magagawa.
So, they lost that game, your honors. But it was a very good first showing. And the next day was a few days later. So let’s now go to the second game. And this is the game, which we say now made HERstory. So this is where I pull out… a picture paints a thousand words. Less words and more pictures. Hindi na ho ako magsasalita, I will just show you a video, and this was my video, my claim to, ika-copyright ko po yang video na yan because it is my personal video, as a soccer mom…
Ako lang ang sumisigaw. But my mistake is I failed to ask the Majority Floor Leader to share with me the video because may sigawan din na ganun… The senators, we have to black out because they were so happy that expletives were coming out of our mouth. That goes to show the difference in our styles because I do not use those expletives. But they were just so happy for you, jumping up and down in our lounge.
So that’s my video. Now, there is a professional video that has a better view… Wait, backtrack, I did not know how to pronounce your name, the lady I asked to stand… Katrina Guillou…
The Filipinas stunned the world after they upset world no. 26 and 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup co-host. Hometown crowd, hometown team New Zealand with a full time score of 1-0 at the Wellington Regional Stadium on July 25, 2023.
And this goal was set up, unfortunately she’s not here, through a cross by Sara Eggesvik, and then a header by Sarina Bolden. Stand up, Sarina. You might think that the Senate is lackluster in clapping, but we are not allowed to clap. So that’s why we’re like prim and proper. Okay, so a little bit of history, last September 2022, it was also Sarina Bolden who scored a goal for the PH Women’s Team in an international friendly match in New Zealand. I didn’t know that so you have a thing with them, okay.
And then, for those of you who watched intently or even if you don’t watch, it’s common sense… The only way you’ll win is you make more goals, and you prevent the other team from making goals, right? So clearly, what was important since we already had a 1, a score, we had to make sure that no more goals were made. And the woman responsible for the no more goal is no other than Olivia McDaniel… Stand up naman. I am used to looking for her in different colors, but she’s wearing the same color. So that’s Olivia McDaniel and she was the Visa Player of the Match. Amazing work. Amazing work. Unbelievable. I had like five videos of her ensuring that the ball does not touch the net…
The historic first goal sparked a thrilling atmosphere of pure joy and pride among Filipinos around the world, especially in the stadium where our kababayans made their presence felt. Outnumbered as we were, there was no way of not being heard. And I asked the girls if they heard the cheers of the Filipinos and their answer was yes, right? And even those from far away, they knew were cheering in the watch parties, in our own Senate lounge cheering for them. So that was a special day for us, your honors, in Wellington.
And the third game was in Auckland. Pauwi na sana ako, absent po ako last Monday because I was already in Sydney on the way home, but I decided to go back because I felt I should be there for the third game regardless of what happened. So I was happy to be back. Their opponent, Norway, was very determined to win because they had been beaten by the hometown, New Zealand, and Norway did play very well, so we lost that game. But we still ended on a very, very happy note. I think the Filipinas know that overall, this was a great experience for them. Like I said, they made history, they brought us so much joy, so much pride. And we’re happy that many of them were able to come home to the Philippines to meet our kababayans, for our kababayans to express their support as well.
At this point, your honors, I just wanna thank everybody who’s been part of their journey, their families, I’ll go by the pictures, the supporters, some of them are total strangers, they just wanted to support the Filipinas. Some of them don’t even know anything about football, but they live in New Zealand, in Australia, and they came to support the Filipinas. So aside from the supporters, of course, the families, the families of the players have made so many sacrifices to allow… the girls to be here. So I also wanna thank the families for making this happen, for providing the support. And then of course, the PFF leadership, Nonong Araneta, the President, the Sec. Gen., Edwin Gastanes, the rest of the crew that make up the support behind the team, coach Belay [Isabella Fernando] of course, the doctors, my sister-in-law is actually one of the team doctors, Dr. Fille Cainglet. We wanna thank also the POC for the support, the President for the support. But I wanna thank our dear colleagues for the support, because not only by cheering, but really through funding. And I hope… Alan is reminding me about the manager, pero binati ko na, but he deserves another mention, Jeffrey Cheng, who really, really makes this happen. Salamat talaga. I mean, they could’ve pulled out anytime pero all the way until the end, all out talaga ang support talaga ni Jeff. And you know, in the US, colleagues, very little, if not zero support, ang government. They take care of infrastructure, but it’s really generous patrons who provide the support and Jeffrey Cheng is one of them, again, thank you so much, Jeff. Super.
So I hope I didn’t forget anything because I will end, as I was saying, I need to recognize that in the Senate, with our leadership, the Senate President who is the Chairman of his own NSA, Arnis, and so many of our colleagues, of course, Sen. Angara, who is the one, at the end of the day, who makes a final stamp on the support we give, Sen. Joel, always supportive, all of you, Sen. JV like me is a cyclist, so all the athletes we support, Sen. Bong Go, I mentioned earlier, Sen. Francis Tolentino is also the head of his NSA, and Sen. Loren Legarda, sobrang mag-cheer, she kept on sending me messages na, please tell them I am so proud of them. And she proudly says na she’s not an athlete, pero super supportive and always willing to learn, ladies. So baka you can have a lesson with the girls.
Let’s not forget that we have a senator who started this all. The late Sen. Edgardo Angara. So he was actually honorary Chairman in 2016-2019 and I even remember probably around that time when he was so excited telling me, “Pia, magpapapunta dito si Real Madrid, papuntahin mo yung UP team.” Of course, he was the President of UP when I was an athlete, so papuntahin mo ang UP team. So aside from the UP team, and all these grassroots, and team Baler, which pinapunta din niya ang Real Madrid all the way to Baler. So we wanna acknowledge that because these things don’t happen overnight.
I thank the Senate for their patience but if you notice, I always go back to history because the things that we have been able to do rarely happen in this particular Senate. It’s usually 3 years ago, 6 years ago, 12 years ago, 15 years ago. And I do not want us to forget that history. Because we cannot move forward, we always take off from what our predecessors have left behind.
So that is my penultimate message. And my very last one is a surprise from my colleagues but a little extra job for the football team because I have t-shirts for everyone, Mr. Senate President. I have one for you, but I think ladies, the senators will want you to sign. So bring out your pens before you leave. Don’t miss your flight but I think they’ll want a little memorabilia from you. So this is from me and Alan to commemorate this very special year for sports, for women in sports, and for football.
Thank you very much, Mr. President. #