BIZ BUZZ: Investing in inclusive sports | Inquirer Business

BIZ BUZZ: Investing in inclusive sports

/ 02:18 AM August 31, 2023

The nation was euphoric when weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz won the first Olympic gold medal for the Philippines at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Equally commendable but unknown to many, a 17-person delegation of Filipino athletes with intellectual disabilities also brought honor to the country at the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 in June.

Team Philippines garnered three gold medals in swimming, one gold for athletics, one silver for bocce, one bronze for freestyle swimming, one fourth-place finish for bocce and one eighth place for athletics.

The country’s strong finish was thanks to the collective efforts of corporate sponsors and inclusivity advocates, including private equity veteran Martin Lichauco, country director of Warburg Pincus.


The recently reelected treasurer and founding member of advocacy group Special Olympics Pilipinas (SOP) recognizes that special athletes are change-makers in their own right and are worth investing in.


SOP helped train the special athletes not only in their specific sports but also in mental/emotional processing. And their efforts paid off.

Iloilo-based Noel Cartera, who has autism, won two gold medals in swimming. Princess Feliz Garcia bagged one gold and one bronze also in swimming and Flordeliza Baento won one gold in athletics. Both have an intellectual disability.


SOP’s other founding trustees include eight-time swimming gold medalist and Olympian Akiko Thomson-Guevara (chair), lawyer Jon Angel (corporate secretary), Chips Guevara, Ai Abello, Alex Soriano and Roche Vandenberghe.

A dynamic management team was formed in 2019 led by Janvie Amido as national director, Kaye Chastine Samson as program director, Darwin Engracia as sports specialist, Isabelle De Los Santos as corporate alliance manager and Jasper Cota as club coordinator.

“Sending a delegation to Berlin given the cost and time needed to prepare seemed like a moonshot six to nine months ago. However, everyone came together and made it happen, from our corporate sponsors, partners and friends to the dedicated and hardworking coaches and volunteers and of course, the parents of our athletes. All the athletes were all winners already the day the delegation took off for their flight to Berlin,” Lichauco told Biz Buzz.

Recently, Special Olympics Pilipinas celebrated the 55th founding anniversary of Special Olympics, known as the Global Day of Inclusion.

“Inclusion is no longer just a dream—it is and must be an integral part of what we do every day and we at Special Olympics Pilipinas will do our own share to make a meaningful impact in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities,” he added.

What’s next after Berlin? SOP is now preparing for the next Special Olympics to be held in Turin, Italy, in 2025.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla

Private art, public lives

Salcedo Auctions, through its gallery and exhibition arm Salcedo Private View, opens today a new program that takes you inside the private art collection of one of the region’s top bankers, Unionbank president Edwin Riego Bautista, and his wife, Professor Aileen Beltrano Bautista.

Salcedo Auctions chair and chief specialist Richie Lerma has indeed added something exciting to the auction house’s program, showcasing a selection from the extensive collection of the Bautista couple, who have assembled through the decades a tantalizing range of objects of antiquity, most of which have not been shown in public.

Curator Floy Quintos titled the exhibition “A Passion for Connections and Their Narratives” and sectioned the objects thematically. “Islands, Partners and Colonizers” examines trade partnerships with various Southeast Asian polities, as well as the gradual identification of our island kingdoms as one colony of Spain, Quintos said in the exhibition notes.

“Visualizing the Faith” includes icons of saints in wood, ivory and silver.

“A Secret Spirituality” is devoted to talismans as a language of resistance.

The last section, “Building, Defending Nations,” is a visioning of Filipinos’ journey to nationhood, narrated through battle-captured Philippine flags as well as indigenous and Katipunan-related armaments.

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“We are delighted to announce the new program as well as its inaugural edition,” Lerma said. “This exhibition is a realization of a dream to support the educative work of our museums—a sector that I worked in for over a decade and where, in fact, I got the inspiration for ‘Private Art, Public Lives.’”

—Daxim Lucas
TAGS: Biz Buzz, inclusive, Salcedo Auctions, Sports

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