US Championship playoff: Wesley So is 2017 champion

by Albert Silver
4/11/2017 – What a fantastic US Championship it has been, and the last day presented a very exciting playoff match between Wesley So and Alexander Onischuk. After two very exciting games, with game one seeing pawns tossed left and right, and game two almost saw Onischuk come back in a powerful endgame display, it was Wesley So’s turn among the Big Three to hoist the winner trophy. Final report.

All photos by Lennart Ootes

Wesley So’s win at the 2017 US Championship marks once more the incredible streak he has been enjoying since mid-2016. True, he has now extended his streak of undefeated games to 67, which is remarkable in and of itself, though not unheard of. The biggest issue when compiling such runs is the quality of opposition after all. Sam Shankland himself, one of the participants in this year’s final, had a similar streak extending through 69 games back in 2014-2015, including the Olympiad, the Millionaire Open, and Tata Steel Challengers. However, Wesley So, has not only been playing almost exclusively elite opposition, but he has also been winning every single event he has been in during this streak! This has included the Sinquefield Cup, the Olympic gold, the London Classic, Tata Steel (ahead of Magnus Carlsen), and now the US Championship, in its what was possibly its strongest field ever. Of course, all streaks must end some time, and he certainly faced moments when it seemed as if that day was the day, but ultimately he prevailed.

For those curious as to what his next event is, it will be the Gashimov Memorial starting April 20, But that tale will be reported here at ChessBase soone enough, back to the US Championship!

The colorful setup for the playoff is prepared and ready

Here are the trophies where the players hope to see their names inscribed. Alexander Onischuk has already won it in 2006.

Grandmasters love a good position to debate..... ok, not just grandmasters

Prior to the picking of colors, Yasser Seirawan explained that in a two-game situation, he felt that having black in the first game was clearly desirable. It mean that should things go bad in game one, you could look forward to having white in game two, and if things go well in game one with black, you can control the battle better with white to avoid nasty comebacks. Wesley So got white in game one.

The game is afoot!

In a very exciting game, pawns were chucked as if there were no tomorrow, yet the engines could not find anything to fault, and despite two-pawn deficits, declared the game equal. And no, this was not because of some inevitable repetition in their main lines.

Wesley So vs Alexander Onischuk

A disappointing result for Onischuk, though it must be said he usually favors the quiet technical positions over the middlegame madness that reigned on the board in game one. Still, it did show he was going to play with a positive attitude and not hesitate to take his chances. This is invariably the right approach. No one is suggesting recklessness and machismo, but a player will sleep far better if he takes his chances and fails, than wondering what might have happened had he given it a go, but chickened out.

My turn to have white!

Wesley So's stepmother, Lotis Key, watches the game while reading. The title of the book is "The American Miracle".

Game two saw Alexander Onischuk achieve a very nice middlegame/endgame with a powerful pair of bishops. Wesley So failed to respond best, and found himself in a losing position for a couple of moves. Alexander Onischuk failed to find the blows, and eventually the advantage dissipated. Had he won, the title would have been decided by an Armageddon blitz game.

Alexander Onischuk vs Wesley So

Wesley So wins the 2017 US Championship

Sabina Foisor won the 2017 US Women's championship

Rex Sinquefield, the great benefactor of US chess

Men's standings after eleven rounds

(Click for full size)

Women's standings after eleven rounds

(click for full size)

US Championship pairings/results

Round 1 on 2017/03/29 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 1 2666 GM Shankland Samuel L ½ - ½ GM Caruana Fabiano 2817 12
2 2 2822 GM So Wesley 1 - 0 GM Shabalov Alexander 2556 11
3 3 2667 GM Onischuk Alexander ½ - ½ GM Naroditsky Daniel 2646 10
4 4 2605 GM Zherebukh Yaroslav ½ - ½ GM Kamsky Gata 2659 9
5 5 2645 GM Akobian Varuzhan ½ - ½ GM Xiong Jeffery 2674 8
6 6 2668 GM Robson Ray 0 - 1 GM Nakamura Hikaru 2793 7
Round 2 on 2017/03/30 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 12 2817 GM Caruana Fabiano ½ - ½ GM Nakamura Hikaru 2793 7
2 8 2674 GM Xiong Jeffery ½ - ½ GM Robson Ray 2668 6
3 9 2659 GM Kamsky Gata 0 - 1 GM Akobian Varuzhan 2645 5
4 10 2646 GM Naroditsky Daniel ½ - ½ GM Zherebukh Yaroslav 2605 4
5 11 2556 GM Shabalov Alexander 0 - 1 GM Onischuk Alexander 2667 3
6 1 2666 GM Shankland Samuel L ½ - ½ GM So Wesley 2822 2
Round 3 on 2017/03/31 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 2 2822 GM So Wesley ½ - ½ GM Caruana Fabiano 2817 12
2 3 2667 GM Onischuk Alexander ½ - ½ GM Shankland Samuel L 2666 1
3 4 2605 GM Zherebukh Yaroslav 1 - 0 GM Shabalov Alexander 2556 11
4 5 2645 GM Akobian Varuzhan 0 - 1 GM Naroditsky Daniel 2646 10
5 6 2668 GM Robson Ray 1 - 0 GM Kamsky Gata 2659 9
6 7 2793 GM Nakamura Hikaru ½ - ½ GM Xiong Jeffery 2674 8
Round 4 on 2017/04/01 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 12 2817 GM Caruana Fabiano ½ - ½ GM Xiong Jeffery 2674 8
2 9 2659 GM Kamsky Gata ½ - ½ GM Nakamura Hikaru 2793 7
3 10 2646 GM Naroditsky Daniel ½ - ½ GM Robson Ray 2668 6
4 11 2556 GM Shabalov Alexander ½ - ½ GM Akobian Varuzhan 2645 5
5 1 2666 GM Shankland Samuel L ½ - ½ GM Zherebukh Yaroslav 2605 4
6 2 2822 GM So Wesley 1 - 0 GM Onischuk Alexander 2667 3
Round 5 on 2017/04/02 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 3 2667 GM Onischuk Alexander ½ - ½ GM Caruana Fabiano 2817 12
2 4 2605 GM Zherebukh Yaroslav ½ - ½ GM So Wesley 2822 2
3 5 2645 GM Akobian Varuzhan 1 - 0 GM Shankland Samuel L 2666 1
4 6 2668 GM Robson Ray 1 - 0 GM Shabalov Alexander 2556 11
5 7 2793 GM Nakamura Hikaru ½ - ½ GM Naroditsky Daniel 2646 10
6 8 2674 GM Xiong Jeffery 0 - 1 GM Kamsky Gata 2659 9
Round 6 on 2017/04/04 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 12 2817 GM Caruana Fabiano 1 - 0 GM Kamsky Gata 2659 9
2 10 2646 GM Naroditsky Daniel ½ - ½ GM Xiong Jeffery 2674 8
3 11 2556 GM Shabalov Alexander ½ - ½ GM Nakamura Hikaru 2793 7
4 1 2666 GM Shankland Samuel L 1 - 0 GM Robson Ray 2668 6
5 2 2822 GM So Wesley ½ - ½ GM Akobian Varuzhan 2645 5
6 3 2667 GM Onischuk Alexander ½ - ½ GM Zherebukh Yaroslav 2605 4
Round 7 on 2017/04/05 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 4 2605 GM Zherebukh Yaroslav
1 - 0
GM Caruana Fabiano 2817 12
2 5 2645 GM Akobian Varuzhan
½ - ½
GM Onischuk Alexander 2667 3
3 6 2668 GM Robson Ray
½ - ½
GM So Wesley 2822 2
4 7 2793 GM Nakamura Hikaru
½ - ½
GM Shankland Samuel L 2666 1
5 8 2674 GM Xiong Jeffery
0 - 1
GM Shabalov Alexander 2556 11
6 9 2659 GM Kamsky Gata
1 - 0
GM Naroditsky Daniel 2646 10
Round 8 on 2017/04/06 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 12 2817 GM Caruana Fabiano
1 - 0
GM Naroditsky Daniel 2646 10
2 11 2556 GM Shabalov Alexander
½ - ½
GM Kamsky Gata 2659 9
3 1 2666 GM Shankland Samuel L
0 - 1
GM Xiong Jeffery 2674 8
4 2 2822 GM So Wesley
½ - ½
GM Nakamura Hikaru 2793 7
5 3 2667 GM Onischuk Alexander
1 - 0
GM Robson Ray 2668 6
6 4 2605 GM Zherebukh Yaroslav
0 - 1
GM Akobian Varuzhan 2645 5
Round 9 on 2017/04/07 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 5 2645 GM Akobian Varuzhan
1 - 0
GM Caruana Fabiano 2817 12
2 6 2668 GM Robson Ray
½ - ½
GM Zherebukh Yaroslav 2605 4
3 7 2793 GM Nakamura Hikaru
0 - 1
GM Onischuk Alexander 2667 3
4 8 2674 GM Xiong Jeffery
0 - 1
GM So Wesley 2822 2
5 9 2659 GM Kamsky Gata
½ - ½
GM Shankland Samuel L 2666 1
6 10 2646 GM Naroditsky Daniel
½ - ½
GM Shabalov Alexander 2556 11
Round 10 on 2017/04/08 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 12 2817 GM Caruana Fabiano
1 - 0
GM Shabalov Alexander 2556 11
2 1 2666 GM Shankland Samuel L
½ - ½
GM Naroditsky Daniel 2646 10
3 2 2822 GM So Wesley
½ - ½
GM Kamsky Gata 2659 9
4 3 2667 GM Onischuk Alexander
1 - 0
GM Xiong Jeffery 2674 8
5 4 2605 GM Zherebukh Yaroslav
0 - 1
GM Nakamura Hikaru 2793 7
6 5 2645 GM Akobian Varuzhan
½ - ½
GM Robson Ray 2668 6
Round 11 on 2017/04/09 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 6 2668 GM Robson Ray
0 - 1
GM Caruana Fabiano 2817 12
2 7 2793 GM Nakamura Hikaru
1 - 0
GM Akobian Varuzhan 2645 5
3 8 2674 GM Xiong Jeffery
½ - ½
GM Zherebukh Yaroslav 2605 4
4 9 2659 GM Kamsky Gata
½ - ½
GM Onischuk Alexander 2667 3
5 10 2646 GM Naroditsky Daniel
½ - ½
GM So Wesley 2822 2
6 11 2556 GM Shabalov Alexander
½ - ½
GM Shankland Samuel L 2666 1

US Women's Championship pairings/results

Round 1 on 2017/03/29 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 1 2257 WGM Sharevich Anna ½ - ½ WGM Nemcova Katerina 2359 12
2 2 2162 WCM Feng Maggie ½ - ½ GM Krush Irina 2444 11
3 3 2272 WGM Foisor Sabina-Francesca 1 - 0 WFM Yip Carissa 2234 10
4 4 2364 WGM Abrahamyan Tatev 1 - 0 WFM Virkud Apurva 2262 9
5 5 2196 WIM Yu Jennifer R 1 - 0 IM Zatonskih Anna 2451 8
6 6 2173 WIM Nguyen Emily ½ - ½ IM Paikidze Nazi 2369 7
Round 2 on 2017/03/30 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 12 2359 WGM Nemcova Katerina 0 - 1 IM Paikidze Nazi 2369 7
2 8 2451 IM Zatonskih Anna 1 - 0 WIM Nguyen Emily 2173 6
3 9 2262 WFM Virkud Apurva 1 - 0 WIM Yu Jennifer R 2196 5
4 10 2234 WFM Yip Carissa ½ - ½ WGM Abrahamyan Tatev 2364 4
5 11 2444 GM Krush Irina 1 - 0 WGM Foisor Sabina-Francesca 2272 3
6 1 2257 WGM Sharevich Anna ½ - ½ WCM Feng Maggie 2162 2
Round 3 on 2017/03/31 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 2 2162 WCM Feng Maggie
½ - ½
WGM Nemcova Katerina 2359 12
2 3 2272 WGM Foisor Sabina-Francesca
1 - 0
WGM Sharevich Anna 2257 1
3 4 2364 WGM Abrahamyan Tatev
0 - 1
GM Krush Irina 2444 11
4 5 2196 WIM Yu Jennifer R
½ - ½
WFM Yip Carissa 2234 10
5 6 2173 WIM Nguyen Emily
0 - 1
WFM Virkud Apurva 2262 9
6 7 2369 IM Paikidze Nazi
0 - 1
IM Zatonskih Anna 2451 8
Round 4 on 2017/04/01 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 12 2359 WGM Nemcova Katerina
½ - ½
IM Zatonskih Anna 2451 8
2 9 2262 WFM Virkud Apurva
0 - 1
IM Paikidze Nazi 2369 7
3 10 2234 WFM Yip Carissa
1 - 0
WIM Nguyen Emily 2173 6
4 11 2444 GM Krush Irina
0 - 1
WIM Yu Jennifer R 2196 5
5 1 2257 WGM Sharevich Anna
½ - ½
WGM Abrahamyan Tatev 2364 4
6 2 2162 WCM Feng Maggie
1 - 0
WGM Foisor Sabina-Francesca 2272 3
Round 5 on 2017/04/02 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 3 2272 WGM Foisor Sabina-Francesca
1 - 0
WGM Nemcova Katerina 2359 12
2 4 2364 WGM Abrahamyan Tatev
1 - 0
WCM Feng Maggie 2162 2
3 5 2196 WIM Yu Jennifer R
0 - 1
WGM Sharevich Anna 2257 1
4 6 2173 WIM Nguyen Emily
0 - 1
GM Krush Irina 2444 11
5 7 2369 IM Paikidze Nazi
1 - 0
WFM Yip Carissa 2234 10
6 8 2451 IM Zatonskih Anna
1 - 0
WFM Virkud Apurva 2262 9
Round 6 on 2017/04/04 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 12 2359 WGM Nemcova Katerina
1 - 0
WFM Virkud Apurva 2262 9
2 10 2234 WFM Yip Carissa
1 - 0
IM Zatonskih Anna 2451 8
3 11 2444 GM Krush Irina
0 - 1
IM Paikidze Nazi 2369 7
4 1 2257 WGM Sharevich Anna
1 - 0
WIM Nguyen Emily 2173 6
5 2 2162 WCM Feng Maggie
1 - 0
WIM Yu Jennifer R 2196 5
6 3 2272 WGM Foisor Sabina-Francesca
1 - 0
WGM Abrahamyan Tatev 2364 4
Round 7 on 2017/04/05 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 4 2364 WGM Abrahamyan Tatev
½ - ½
WGM Nemcova Katerina 2359 12
2 5 2196 WIM Yu Jennifer R
½ - ½
WGM Foisor Sabina-Francesca 2272 3
3 6 2173 WIM Nguyen Emily
0 - 1
WCM Feng Maggie 2162 2
4 7 2369 IM Paikidze Nazi
½ - ½
WGM Sharevich Anna 2257 1
5 8 2451 IM Zatonskih Anna
½ - ½
GM Krush Irina 2444 11
6 9 2262 WFM Virkud Apurva
1 - 0
WFM Yip Carissa 2234 10
Round 8 on 2017/04/06 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 12 2359 WGM Nemcova Katerina
1 - 0
WFM Yip Carissa 2234 10
2 11 2444 GM Krush Irina
1 - 0
WFM Virkud Apurva 2262 9
3 1 2257 WGM Sharevich Anna
½ - ½
IM Zatonskih Anna 2451 8
4 2 2162 WCM Feng Maggie
½ - ½
IM Paikidze Nazi 2369 7
5 3 2272 WGM Foisor Sabina-Francesca
1 - 0
WIM Nguyen Emily 2173 6
6 4 2364 WGM Abrahamyan Tatev
½ - ½
WIM Yu Jennifer R 2196 5
Round 9 on 2017/04/07 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 5 2196 WIM Yu Jennifer R
½ - ½
WGM Nemcova Katerina 2359 12
2 6 2173 WIM Nguyen Emily
0 - 1
WGM Abrahamyan Tatev 2364 4
3 7 2369 IM Paikidze Nazi
½ - ½
WGM Foisor Sabina-Francesca 2272 3
4 8 2451 IM Zatonskih Anna
1 - 0
WCM Feng Maggie 2162 2
5 9 2262 WFM Virkud Apurva
1 - 0
WGM Sharevich Anna 2257 1
6 10 2234 WFM Yip Carissa
½ - ½
GM Krush Irina 2444 11
Round 10 on 2017/04/08 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 12 2359 WGM Nemcova Katerina
½ - ½
GM Krush Irina 2444 11
2 1 2257 WGM Sharevich Anna
1 - 0
WFM Yip Carissa 2234 10
3 2 2162 WCM Feng Maggie
½ - ½
WFM Virkud Apurva 2262 9
4 3 2272 WGM Foisor Sabina-Francesca
1 - 0
IM Zatonskih Anna 2451 8
5 4 2364 WGM Abrahamyan Tatev
0 - 1
IM Paikidze Nazi 2369 7
6 5 2196 WIM Yu Jennifer R
1 - 0
WIM Nguyen Emily 2173 6
Round 11 on 2017/04/09 at 2 PM (EST)
Bo. No. Rtg   Name Result   Name Rtg No.
1 6 2173 WIM Nguyen Emily
½ - ½
WGM Nemcova Katerina 2359 12
2 7 2369 IM Paikidze Nazi
0 - 1
WIM Yu Jennifer R 2196 5
3 8 2451 IM Zatonskih Anna
½ - ½
WGM Abrahamyan Tatev 2364 4
4 9 2262 WFM Virkud Apurva
0 - 1
WGM Foisor Sabina-Francesca 2272 3
5 10 2234 WFM Yip Carissa
½ - ½
WCM Feng Maggie 2162 2
6 11 2444 GM Krush Irina
½ - ½
WGM Sharevich Anna 2257 1

Links

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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benedictralph benedictralph 4/11/2017 10:13
Wow. Wesley looks like a real force to be reckoned with. Magnus shouldn't get too comfortable.
blueflare blueflare 4/11/2017 11:08
Congratulations Wesley So! Happy to see you still wear the barong :) On to the World Chess Championship!
Mark S Mark S 4/11/2017 11:17
Congratulations to GM Wesley So, the new US Chess Champ 2017.
Kudos to ChessBase GmbH for the great US championships 2017 coverage.
Denix Denix 4/11/2017 12:33
Congratulations Wesley! It could be the most coveted championship you have won so far.
blindfldjeddah blindfldjeddah 4/11/2017 02:27
Pagbati sa inyong pagkapanalo ng Kampeyonato ng Estados Unidos sa ahedres, Wesley. Mabuhay ka!!!!
King Phoenix King Phoenix 4/11/2017 03:05
Wow! A Filipino is 2017 US Chess King!! Congratulations Wesley! We are very proud of you.
thirteen thirteen 4/11/2017 03:06
Don't think any WCC between Magnus and Wesley would be over-full of draws! Nice observation 'The American Miracle' for some not too distant future tip.
King Phoenix King Phoenix 4/11/2017 03:32
Albert Silver is right in using the adjective " fantastic " for the 2017 US Chess championship. Lower rates players crushing the top players, with the exception of the Champ. Kudos to Alexander for putting a spectacular fight. As the saying goes, win some,lose some.
Raymond Labelle Raymond Labelle 4/11/2017 03:54
For those who could be curious about the book being read by Lotis Key (Wesley's stepmother) on the photograph:

https://www.amazon.ca/American-Miracle-Divine-Providence-Republic-ebook/dp/B01BAU6ES0
spieler8 spieler8 4/11/2017 04:28
I congratulate Wesley for his courage to wear such a shirt.
Kilovs 2016 Kilovs 2016 4/11/2017 05:02
Go Wesley! Congratulations! Mabuhay ka!
TMMM TMMM 4/11/2017 05:43
@spieler8 My thoughts too! Looking all classy during the games with his suit, and then trading it in for that weird outfit for the award ceremony. Strange!
mikejfitch1 mikejfitch1 4/11/2017 07:23
Congratulations Wesley and Sabrina!!!
ChiliBean ChiliBean 4/11/2017 07:45
Coverage via YouTube was amazing. Grand Chess Tour starts June 19th. Hopefully, Wesley will be able to surpass Magnus' rating. Then his next big test is Candidates to finally challenge Magnus becoming the World Chess Champion! Since it's been a looong time waiting for the U.S. Keep that non-losing streak going Wesley!
mwilfred mwilfred 4/11/2017 08:58
@TMMM Nothing weird about wearing the traditional outfit of your country of origin for the Awards Ceremony (in this case, the Filipino Barong). Well done, Wesley and congratulations once again!
turok turok 4/11/2017 10:32
what they should then do is have both champions have a 2 of three for the overall championship for fun
TMMM TMMM 4/12/2017 02:20
@mwilfred It is a bit weird if you've been wearing a suit all tournament, and it is a bit strange given you're playing in the US championships, not the Filipino championships. If you're so proud you're the *US* champion, why make the awards photo shoots about showing you are proud you are *not* American? (For any other tournament it would be ok, but it just doesn't fit here.)
koko48 koko48 4/12/2017 04:51
Very interesting playoff games
Aighearach Aighearach 4/12/2017 05:59
Each American is expected to be a patriot nationalist, but also have a personal cultural interest in their individual ethnic background. It is all divided up, and wearing the shirt is exactly the right thing to do. And if I wear a kilt, I don't have to be a true Scotsman, because this is America. They might giggle, they might even make a joke, but nobody is going to tell me not to wear it. He lives in Minnesota, surely that is American enough to be Chess Champion. The other favorites were from New York and Florida, those are both even weirder than Minnesota!
Mark S Mark S 4/12/2017 06:00
@TMMM you have a valid point. But maybe that is GM Wesley So's preference. Probably choosing comfort over fashion. Suit (brits calls it coat and tie) is preferable in very cold weather, haven't checked but I think it originated in a very cold country.
Bright Knight Bright Knight 4/12/2017 08:41
An invitation to play in the US Championships only requires that you're a USCF member and a US resident, not an American citizen. Winning it simply means you're the best USCF player, with no cultural connotation whatsoever. Wesley So is a Filipino and takes every formal opportunity to show his pride in being so. His decision not to play under the Philippine federation is mainly for the chance to play stronger competition, not cultural nor nationalistic preference. I think the USCF itself would have reprimanded Wesley if it saw something "not fit" in what he wore.
benedictralph benedictralph 4/12/2017 09:58
@Bright Knight:

Exactly. Just because someone isn't from the US or UK or some other nation where most of the people have white skin doesn't mean he or she is a fraud or doesn't know what they are talking about.
King Phoenix King Phoenix 4/12/2017 02:01
The Barong the pride of the Filipinos. It is only fitting that Wesley wore the Barong because he is proud to be a Filipino!
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