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The Philippines proudly took its rightful place in the colorful parade of nations as the flame of the 26th Summer Universiade was finally lit following a spectacular opening ceremony rivalling that of the Beijing Olympics and and Guangzhou Asian Games at the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center here Friday.

Junemar Fajardo, the 6-11 center of the reigning Cebu Schools Athletic Federation, Inc. (CESAFI) champion University of Cebu Webmasters , proudly carried the Philippine flag as the lean but mean Filipino delegation entered the stadium as the 113th country.

Fajardo, the hottest player to come out of the basketball-crazy Cebu since Ateneo rookie Greg Slaughter, was unanimously chosen to be the country’s official flag-bearer by Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines (FESSAP), the sole local university sports organization recognized by FISU.

Fajardo was joined during the parade by FESSAP president David Ong, and chef de mission Alvin Tai Lian, Basketball Associaiton of the Philippines (BAP) president Senator Antonio Trillanes, Philippine Swimming League (PSL) chairperson and former Senator Nikki Coseteng, former PSC commissioner Tisha Abundo and the rest of the Filipino athletes taking part in archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, chess, table tennis, taekwondo and swimming.

“This will be the first time in a long while that the Philippines is participating in the Universiade, which is long considered as the Olympics for top universities and colleges all over the world,” said Ong.

“The FESSAP, which is the sole local university sports organization recognized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU), the organizer of the Summer Universiade and World University Games, is very proud to send our athletes to Shenzhen,” added Ong.

Also present during the parade were BAP officals Christian Tan, and Col. Ariel Querubin, deputy delegation head Yap Cho Ty, AgriNurture, Inc. (ANI) chief Antonio Tiu and team leaders William Aw (table tennis), Thomas Espina (chess), Su Hung Kiong (badminton), Antonio Yap Chin (basketball), Edward Dizon (athletics), Jimmy Ang (archery), and Alex Sembrano (beach volleyball).

University of Cebu, will represent the country in the centerpiece sport of basketball. Swimming, which is sending a total of 18 athletes, and taekwondo are the other major sports where the Filipinos are competing.