After a year of postponement, the 2021 Southeast Asian Games finally took place, much to the delight (and relief) of athletes across the region. As all eyes turned to the participants and people at home watched with bated breath, Twitter was where people went to find out #WhatsHappening in #SEAGames2021 in real time, while cheering for their local athletes and national teams, and connecting with other like-minded sports enthusiasts.
From gymnastics and weightlifting, to basketball and volleyball, people in Southeast Asia sure had a lot to talk about on Twitter as their representatives competed in Hanoi. Hashtags such as #SEAGames2021, #BLCKforGOLD, and #LabanPilipinas were the go-to for people looking to get live updates on-ground. In fact, from 12 May to 23 May 2022 alone, there were more than 33 million Tweets globally around #SEAGames2021, with Tweets from the Philippines making up almost 25% of the total conversation in Southeast Asia.
Here’s what Filipinos talked about during #SEAGames2021 on Twitter:
The Filipino spirit has always been there even being in another country as Gilas Pilipinas Men’s, Kiefer Ravena (@kieferravena), Thirdy Ravena (@ThirdyRavenaaa), and Matthew Wright (@Mr_Wright_), shown their support to their fellow Filipino athletes during the artistics gymnastics event.
— Reuben Terrado (@reubensports) May 15, 2022
Of course, as one of the most awaited events and one of the newly-introduced sports in #SEAGames which started last 2019, Pinoy e-sports fans celebrated when the SIBOL (@SIBOLesports), Philippine national esports team for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, bagged its second gold medal during #SEAGames2021.
https://twitter.com/FanUpdatesss_/status/1527529261384355840 (restricted by the owner)
What better way to show #PinoyPride than Filipinos also expressed their love and how proud they are of the country’s Billiard Legend, Efren “Bata” Reyes. At 67 years old, he still secured a podium finish with a bronze in the Men’s 1-Cushion Carom Singles event.
You Will Always be The Greatest Of All Time
Thank you for the Bronze Medal
We are always proud of you
— ⚜️ James Caguioa⚜️ 🇵🇭 (@DonnyBucketsPH) May 18, 2022
#SEAGames2021 may be over, but sports conversations will always live on, whether it’s the football match you caught last night, or the underdog basketball team you support. Here’s a list of people you can follow on Twitter; whether they’re athletes, sports commentators, or just your regular sports enthusiast:
Carlo Pamintuan (@carlo_pamintuan)
Being a sports journalist for more than a decade, Carlo Pamintuan (@carlo_pamintuan) witnessed that Philippines has some of the most passionate sports fans in the world and likes to tell the stories of Filipino athletes more than reporting about game statistics. As he sees posts and Tweets from other countries about Filipino athletes gives him a sense of pride not just for them, but the whole sporting community in the country.
“For my work as a sports commentator for the SEA Games, it was important for me to know what people are talking about so I can then join the conversation on air. I often search keywords on Twitter or follow different hashtags to see what the hottest topics are. Covering the events from the Philippines has its challenges because the official flow of information from the host country has hitches so it’s important for me to stay connected on Twitter for the latest updates from journalists who are in Hanoi.”
Kyle Allanigue (@TheKyleGabriel)
A cheerleader back in college, Kyle Allanigue (@TheKyleGabriel) appreciated more the art of gymnastics. “Through social media, I’m glad that more people get interested not just in basketball or boxing, but in other sports as well. I can still recall when Carlos Yulo won several gold medals from various gymnastic categories in the SEA Games, I believe his world-class performance brought light to gymnastics, which is an underrated sport in our country,” Kyle said.
He also believes that the SEA Games being included in the trending list shows that people on Twitter are interested to be updated about the history it brought to a lot of Filipinos. Kyle also saw how Pinoy fans show their support to the athletes by creating and posting their fan-made banners/arts and by just being online on Twitter.
Joaqs Fernandez (@joaqsfernandez)
Joaquin Fernandez (@joaqsfernandez) considers himself one of the biggest sports nerds, at least for his friends and family. During the lockdown, Joaqs started his own podcast “for sports fans by a sport fan” called JoaqAttack. He invites his fellow fans and even UAAP courtside reporters in his podcast as he talks about anything about sports in the world of NBA and NFL, and of course, Philippine sports.
“Twitter has given me the platform to interact with people who have the same interests as I do, especially in sports,” he shares. “The biggest sports community spirit shown on Twitter was when the Philippine Women’s Basketball team won the gold medal since that was our second straight gold medal in the SEA Games in that sport and Twitter was going crazy when the women won the gold.”
Samantha Manaloto (@seok__jinnie___)
As a former Archery athlete competed at the Palarong Pambansa 2016, Samantha Manaloto (@seok__jinnie___) shares that the best story she has been engaged with was the historical first gold medal of the Philippine Women’s Archery Team at the #SEAGames2021. She believes that the final watch was “thrilling, players looked composed, and the ~girl power~ was really out” in the competition.
“People inhabit social media platforms in different ways. As for Twitter, we navigate it in a way wherein free speech, authenticity of oneself (rather than polished and aesthetic), and regular discourse are regularly practiced. On the other hand, Twitter has features unique to the app that really allow and prompt people to connect with people of the same interests– which is why, probably, niche groups are such a thing in the app.”
No matter what the outcome of #SEAGames2021 is, Twitter was the roar of the stadium where people cheered, celebrated, and expressed their disappointment. Sports fans on Twitter in Southeast Asia were closer than ever during these enthralling moments with Twitter features that allowed them to stay in loop with the real-time results and helped connect them with their favourite sport communities from wherever they were.
For instance, Twitter Topics helped fans easily find the conversations that mattered most to them – be it a basketball star, e-sports team, or billiards legend.
The sporting community on Twitter is so diverse, there’s something for everyone to enjoy and share. So, while competitions and tournaments make a gradual comeback; on Twitter, the cheers never end.