Was the cauldron used during the 1991 SEA Games really that small?

December 2, 2019 - 10:28 PM
Rizal Memorial Stadium
Bleachers in the Rizal Memorial Stadium. (Ramon Velasquez via CC BY-SA 3.0)

The viral picture of Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon supposedly lighting what Filipinos called the “cauldron” in the 1991 SEA Games was not the main structure used for the torch run at the opening ceremony.

Twitter user @nicooladelle did a fact check of the old picture going around social media used by detractors to ridicule him when he criticized what seems to be a questionable cost for the cauldron in New Clark City.

“So I was bored & I tried searching for the 1991 SEA Games opening because I was also curious if the cauldron was really that ‘basic’ and guess what I found out?” she wrote.

The user linked an old footage of the 1991 SEA Games’ opening ceremony released by a Thai broadcasting company and included the viral picture of Drilon—who was executive secretary at that time—as well as a picture of the cauldron in its current location.

Drilon’s critics claimed that his picture lighting the “cauldron” with late former President Corazon Aquino was part of a ceremonial torch run.

The 1991 cauldron, however, is seen mounted behind the bleachers. Based on the footage, it was evidently bigger than the little cauldron—a mere base for the torch run—Aquino and Drilon are lighting in the photo.

1991 SEA Games Cauldron
The cauldron used in the 1991 Southeast Asian Games held in the Philippines. (Screengrab from YouTube account ‘Domo Darken’)

Twitter user @nicooladelle even shared a clip that featured a portion of the torch run and the eventual lighting of the cauldron above.

The base used for the cauldron could still be seen in the stadium up to this day.

Rizal Memoral Stadium Cauldron
The Rizal Memorial Track and Football Stadium. (Ramon Velasquez via CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Philippines hosted the 1991 SEA Games where athletes from the southeast region of Asia competed in 28 sports in Manila and Subic Bay. It was opened by Aquino at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

The country finished second place while Indonesia bagged the most number of gold medals.

It was also in this edition of SEA Games that a Filipino athlete received the most number of gold medals and was officially proclaimed the “Most Outstanding Male Athlete” of the competition.

He is swimmer Eric Buhain, who was also present in this year’s opening ceremonies as one of the bearers of the SEA Games Federation Flag.

Drilon and the cauldron

Last month, concerns on the cauldron’s cost to be used for the 30th SEA Games came into light after the Senate deliberated on the proposed budget for the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.

When Drilon found out that the structure to be used for the torch lighting ceremony amounted to around P50 million, he remarked that the funds could’ve been used to build classrooms instead.

“Is it valid, is it just, that we do away with 50 classrooms to build a P50-million kaldero (pot) that we’ll use only once?” he asked before.

RELATED: SEA Games cauldron looks like a scaled down version of Mañosa’s 1996 Centennial Tower design

“I am not even talking about overpricing. I am talking about the propriety of doing away with 50 classrooms in order to put up a P50-million kaldero,” Drilon added.

Reports also quoted him describing the purchase as an “extravagance” that is “so unnecessary.”

Shortly after his criticisms made headlines, his torch run picture with Aquino gained traction wherein people falsely claimed that it was the ceremonial cauldron of the games.

“Ang alamat ng kaldero,” a Facebook page wrote.

Ang alamat ng kaldero. 🙂

Posted by Lahat 1900s on Thursday, November 21, 2019


Its caption prompted hateful comments to be directed at the legislator even though the information was misleading.

“Makatwiran lang na punahin ni Sen. Franklin Drilon (‘yung) 50M na kaldero. Pwede naman kaseng KAWALI,” a Facebook user wrote.

The torch run and lighting has its roots in ancient Greek’s Olympic Games, where the flame is carried from Olympia to the Panathenaic Stadium. It symbolizes the “light of spirit, knowledge and life,” according to Washington Post.

“By passing the flame from one person to another in stages, the Torch Relay expresses the handing down of this symbolic fire from generation to generation,” the report continued.