Inclusive. Love it or don’t, but that’s the beat.

Davao City Mayor said it aptly when she spoke her mind out on the background parade song for the Philippine delegation during Saturday’s glitzy opening ceremonies of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

By saying so, it was not the intention of Mayor Sara to add to the already whirlwind of negativism that has hit the event’s hosting by organizers by far. Hers was simply to express an opinion. The suggestion for a more inclusive song is a legitimate observation. Afterall, the ‘Imperial Manila’ mindset had for so many decades put the regions in Mindanao and the Visayas at the backseat of priorities. It has always been that Manila superiority complex that has caused a cultural divide and created an invisible social hierarchy of sorts.

Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC) chief operating officer Ramon Suzara defended the choice of the song, saying it had a good ring and that Manila is the capital of the Philippines. 

“Everytime we go out of the country, they always think about Manila as a capital,” Suzara explained. He also pointed out that the song elicited “most comments” and that netizens viewed the SEA Games opening ceremony as “very Filipino.”

That is the problem of the ‘Imperial Manila’ brains. Suzara thinks Manila is everything that is the Philippines without having to think that such an imperialistic mentality has long been frowned upon by the rest of the country. It is time for people like Suzara to think that Manila alone is not the Philippines. Precisely the reason that Mayor Sara thinks that the song “Manila”–while a very good upbeat song–is not inclusive. There must have been something out there if only more brains other than Suzara or whoever it was who picked the song sat, and discussed the choices.

Inclusivity, too, is the issue where sports media from Mindanao who were flown in through the efforts of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) were not given access pass to the opening ceremonies as all of them mysteriously did not make it to the raffled tickets.

If inclusivity and equality are the operative words, prudence also dictates that organizers also allocate even a single slot each to Mindanao and Visayas journalists.

Now if netizens liked the song, it doesn’t mean it is inclusive and fair for everyone. It is not a numbers or a popularity game.