Top five: Southeast Asian Games mascots

You’ve been chosen to host a prestigious international games event, spent a huge chunk of change building stadiums, lost hair over having enough hotel rooms and then you realise you’ve forgotten to design a mascot… 

Southeast Asia Globe editorial
December 11, 2013

You’ve been chosen to host a prestigious international games event, spent a huge chunk of change building stadiums, lost hair over having enough hotel rooms and then you realise you’ve forgotten to design a mascot… 

Robyn Beck/AFP
Robyn Beck/AFP

Awang Budiman
Flying in the face of mascot tradition by eschewing anthropomorphic designs, straight-up Brunei presented spectators with a boy dressed in his jimjams with a bladed weapon tucked into his fabric belt. Crime rates must have been soaring in the sultanate back in 1999. The design (probably created by a man) was chosen (probably by a man) in order to represent a Bruneian. Clearly, people from Brunei have sticky-out ears, unnerving wide-eyed facial expressions and wear three-quarter-length trews. And they are all male.

Gilas the Philippine Eagle
The Philippine eagle is also known as the monkey-eating eagle, but there’s no monkeying around with Gilas, the Philippines’ choice in 2005, who joined an illustrious roster of eagle mascots in sport – with the Philadelphia Eagles, the German Football Association and Premier League no-hopers Crystal Palace all featuring the sharp-beaked birds. He is perhaps a good choice as, way back in 1989, the wise folks in Manila decided on Kiko Labuyo, a “colourful mountain-dwelling fighting cock”, who nearly made our list, but was pushed out for fear of too many lewd puns making their way into print.

Champa and Champi
In an attempt to trample over the opposition, Laos unleashed this pachyderm pair on its regional neighbours back in 2009. The decision-makers in Vientiane were criticised for cutting down on aquatic events that year. Some said it had to do with the fact that Laos lacks a coastline. But maybe it had something to do with elephants not being the best passengers on boats and for emptying the pool of water when they jump in. The two-tonne twosome was said to represent an ancient Laos regency – The Kingdom of a Million Elephants. The duo might be getting a bit lonely soon though, unless someone stops the rapid decline of elephants in the region.

Shwe Yoe and Ma Moe
Swooping in from behind and startling the living bejaysus out of anyone they please are our feathered friends Shwe Yoe and Ma Moe – Myanmar’s offerings for this year’s SEA Games. The national bird of Myanmar is actually a peacock – but who needs those show-offs when you can have a couple of stealthy hunters of the night? According to the official games website, owls are wise, calm, lucky, loyal and friendly. Plus, they will be expected to bring forth cooperation, friendship and better understanding among participating countries. That’s quite a workload for birds who usually sleep all day.

Modo and Modi
Living dinosaurs. Fearsome reptiles with stinking mouths alive with septic pathogens. Komodo dragons are not the most welcoming of creatures to represent your country and should probably stay penned in on their island home, one might say. Indonesia begged to differ and, in a case of putting lipstick on a pig, gave us a lizard couple with a makeover – Modo and Modi, Komodos à la mode. Indonesian elephants and hawks were passed over in favour of the slathering beasts in an attempt to draw more tourists to see them in the wild – thus providing our less-than-cuddly couple with a regular source of protein.
Also view:
“Top five: Backpacker activities” – There are some things that travellers just love to do, and time spent “on the road” in Southeast Asia is the perfect opportunity for them to indulge their inner goon
“Top five: Universities in Southeast Asia” – Singapore and Thailand lead the way when it comes to universities in Southeast Asia
“Top 5: songs inspired by Southeast Asia” – An eclectic selection of tunes that have their roots in the region
“Top 5: superhero social commentaries” – A peek behind the masks of comic books reveals much more than catching bad guys and leaping tall buildings in a single bound
“Top 5: female film directors” – Five women who have brought a feminine touch to the male-dominated world of movie making in Southeast Asia

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