Cayetano defends SEA Games logo as ‘work in progress’

Paterno Esmaquel II
'In one sense it worked by gaining interest,' says Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, organizing committee chair of the 30th SEA Games

SEA GAMES. Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, organizing committee chair of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, says the logo for the event is a 'work in progress.' Cayetano photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano defended the logo of the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, as he described it as a “work in progress” and said it was effective because it fueled people’s interest.

“That’s the logo. But of course it’s a work in progress,” Cayetano said in an interview with reporters late Wednesday afternoon, August 29.

Cayetano chairs the organizing committee of the 30th SEA Games, which the Philippines is hosting in 2019. It was he who unveiled the 30th SEA Games logo in a presentation in Jakarta on August 19.

Many Filipinos found the logo ugly, prompting artists to redesign it in their own ways, one of which is to showcase the iconic Philippine eagle. 

“When was the last time that people became interested and presented their own logos, or that companies came up with their advertisements based on the logo? So in one sense it worked by gaining interest,” Cayetano said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Still, Cayetano said the SEA Games logo should be seen in the context of “a whole campaign,” which includes a mascot, a jacket, and a countdown clock. He said the logo is only 5% of the campaign, which the organizers will launch in October or November. “Wait for the 95% of the campaign.”

Asked if he liked the logo when he saw it, Cayetano answered: “When I saw the whole campaign, I loved it. It’s the whole campaign. Like everyone else, the logo was the part where we had a lot of questions. But if you see the whole campaign, you’ll see where it’s going.”

Cayetano, who is fond of metaphors, explained: “If you saw the Swoosh without the Nike shoes, or you saw the 3 lines of Adidas without the shoes, or you saw a car with the hood pero wala pa ‘yung (but you haven’t seen) the rest of the car, will you be in a position to judge that?”

‘Yung logo, hood lang ‘yan. Hintayin ‘nyo ‘yung buong kotse ang lumabas. Baka naman dream car ‘nyo rin naman ang lumabas,” he said. (The logo is just the hood. Wait for the whole car to emerge. you might even see your dream car.)

What Cayetano said 10 days ago

But while Cayetano said the SEA Games logo was a “work in progress,” his speech during the unveiling of the logo on August 19 had no indications that it was tentative.

This was what Cayetano said on August 19:

“Our logo will be the 11 circles representing the 11 countries bound together in the shape of the Philippines to symbolize that wherever and whenever the games are played, we are one and we win as one. The mascot formed from the 11 circles is called Fami, short for family or pamilya, to show that we are one family. President Rodrigo Duterte and the Filipino people invite you all and ask that you be a special guest in the SEA Games 2019.”

Here is the video of Cayetano talking about the logo in Jakarta on August 19:

Cayetano on Wednesday said organizers had to choose from the proposals of 4 agencies. “It was so hard to choose between the 4.”

Citing a source, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on August 27 that the SEA Games logo “was designed by a top-notch advertising agency based in Hong Kong that beat 5 other bidders.” Insiders told the Inquirer that organizers “are likely to retain the logo.”

Explaining the standards they used in choosing a logo, Cayetano said: “Do you wanna be the same, or do you wanna stand out? Do you wanna be forgotten after two years, kasi every two years ang SEA Games (because the SEA Games happen every two years), or do you wanna be remembered?”

“Of course you don’t want to be remembered to have a bad logo, but you can have a nice logo but it’s more of the same, ‘di ba, because every country has either a real or mythical animal that is part of their culture,” he added.

“So we went through many ad agencies and these basics were explained to us – that one, the best logos are those that are remembered in time. The best logos are those that a grade 5 student, a grade 4 student, can draw. The best logos separate from the pack. But more importantly for us, the best logos are seen when you apply it,” Cayetano said. –

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at