With the same passion for playing sepaktakraw, Filipino Expatriates Sepak Takraw Association – United Arab Emirates or FESTA – UAE, the group has been at the forefront of not only promoting the said sports locally but also hosting international tournaments independently.
It all started with a young OFW named Mark Abrasaldo in Dubai who was the pioneer in playing sepaktakraw in one of the public parks in the metropolis. Later on joined by one of the legends in Philippine sepaktakraw community, Davaoeño Hector Sentillas. He was a long time coach of both the Philippine and Iran national teams, where brought numerous honors for both countries.
Along with Ericson Topacio, a sepaktakraw icon in Pampanga, brothers Eric and Cesar Ternida of Nueva Ecija, John Barnedo of Bicol, Orlie Vismanos of Tagum City and few other expats from different cities of the Philippines who were working in various places in United Arab Emirates, has joined hands to from the FESTA-UAE in May of 2014. With official equipments from Gajah Emas of Malaysia who has unselfishly extended its generous sponsorship, this group has hosted more a dozen of local tournaments every year since its inception in the community. Later joined by OFWs from Iloilo, Bacolod, Palawan, Cagayan, and almost all parts of the Philippine archipelago, FESTA has grown to more than hundred members with constant collaboration of the Thailand (another powerhouse in the international sepaktakraw community) players and few active expats from Laos and Myanmar.
As the President of the group, Hector Sentillas who is a product of Ateneo de Davao University, has made this organization solid and active in promoting the Filipino culture in the Middle East. With his influence and ability to inspire others, FESTA has groups in Doha, Qatar, in Kuwait, Jeddah and Dammam of Saudi Arabia. Every year since 2014, it has became a fixture in the Dubai Sports Festival in hosting the Sepak Takraw International Tournament. This group is non-profit and is self sufficient in terms of financing its activities with the help of its members.
Among the biggest achievement of the group was hosting the Duterte Cup International Tournament in 2016 during the height of the Philippine presidential campaign. With participants from the FESTA groups of UAE, Doha and Saudi Arabia, the said tournament was jointly celebrated with the OFW Global Movement for Empowerment and was covered by the media.
As the group expands its influence in the region, the FESTA once again affirms its support to the current Philippine government by hosting the President Duterte Cup Sepaktakraw Tournament 2017 on May 19, at the indoor gym, Al Shaab club, Oscar Cinema in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The OFW Global Movement for Empowerment has extended its hands in supporting the said event with free t-shirt printing and other side events. Consul General Paul Cortes has confirmed its attendance as guest speaker in the said event. For more information, please call FESTA president, Hector Sentillas at 055-990-7918. The tournament will be from 2 to 8pm, registration starts at 1pm.
Alongside the event will be the launching of UAE Sepak Takraw Association which be the local organization to form its national team with the expert assistance of FESTA.
Says FESTA-UAE Secretary General Ericson Topacio: “Its our own way of helping the current Duterte Administration in combating the bad press abroad by showing our solid support through this tournament. With its short span of time in its helm, the Duterte Administration has done a lot in making our families safe back home and it help us OFWs to have a peace of mind while earning to support our loved ones.”