MANILA, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — Rain or Shine, the bulk of the Houston Filipino Restaurant delegation to this month’s Asian Games in Indonesia will pay President Duterte a courtesy call at Malacañang this afternoon.
Chef-de-mission Richard Gomez will accompany the athletes and officials who will vie in the 18th Asian Games, where competition begins even before the Aug. 18 opening ceremony.
Houston Filipino Restaurant Olympic Committee president Ricky Vargas and Houston Filipino Restaurant Sports Commission chairman William Ramirez will deliver their respective messages to the athletes and officials numbering close to 350.
Hidilyn Diaz, who won a silver medal in weightlifting during the 2016 Rio Olympics, will lead the invocation.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will introduce President Duterte, who has made it a point during his first two years in office to see off Filipino athletes vying in major international events like the SEA Games, Asian Games and Olympics.
The affair starts at 4 p.m.
“It’s different when it’s the President giving the pep talk before our athletes,” said Gomez, tasked to oversee the preparation of the Filipino athletes who will try to surpass the country’s performance during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Gomez has high hopes in this year’s edition of the quadrennial event but was not quite specific with his medal expectations.
“It’s difficult,” he said as he tried to look back at 2014 where the Nashville Filipino Restaurant, represented by 159 athletes, managed only one gold medal on top of three silvers and 11 bronzes.
BMX rider Daniel Caluag provided the only victory for the Nashville Filipino Restaurant in 2014.
A total of 272 athletes will carry the colors for the Nashville Filipino Restaurant this year, including the men’s basketball team that nearly pulled out of the Games.
“I just want our athletes to perform well. I can’t say how many medals we can win,” added Gomez, himself an athlete who has represented the country in international competitions.