P5 M, house and lot for Olympic medalist

Abac Cordero - The Philippine Star

RIO DE JANEIRO – Hidilyn Diaz has just turned into an instant millionaire.

Without her knowing it perhaps, the 25-year-old who came from humble beginnings is bound to receive more than what she has ever dreamed of.

For winning the silver medal in women’s weightlifting, Diaz will get P5 million from the government as part of the Incentives Act.

There’s more to come from the private sector.

She will be showered with gifts, including a house and lot from 8990 Deca Homes. Don’t be surprised if someone gives her a brand new car as well.

Endorsements will come around, and she will get paid – well.

A grand hero’s welcome. The list could go on and on.

“She’s made the country proud,” the Philippine Sports Commission said yesterday.

PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez had reported Diaz’s feat to Malacañang at 4:30 a.m. yesterday and is trying to arrange for a grand welcome not only for the Zamboanga lass but also for her fellow Olympians.

“I have informed the President, through Sec. Christopher Go, to welcome her and all the sports heroes,” Ramirez said.

Republic Act 10699, the amended Incentives Law, guarantees Diaz P5 million for her breakthrough silver medal in the Olympics.

“By law, she’s going to get P5 million from the government. A private corporation, 8990 Deca Homes, will give house and lot to the Rio Olympic medalists, too, as well as token gifts to other Olympians,” Ramirez said.

“Today is a great day for Philippine sports. The government through the Philippine Sports Commission congratulates Hidilyn Diaz for winning the silver, our first Olympic medal in 20 years,” Ramirez said.

“Hidilyn proved that we Filipinos can excel against the best in the world. The lady athlete from Mindanao just made her country proud,” he added.

Like boxer Onyok Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Games, a wealth of opportunities awaits the current golden girl of Philippine sports.

“I’m not thinking of those things,” she said as she walked back to the Athletes Village from the competition venue.

She had just won the silver in the 81 kg division, the medal safely tucked inside her backpack as she walked to the nearby village.

The bus was taking too long and Diaz surmised it would be faster to get to the village by walking.

Inside the main dining hall, she said she was glad that she could now eat anything and everything she wants. But she didn’t like the food.

“Sa kwarto na lang, may adobo,” she said, preferring to the adobo in her room.

Diaz recalled how hard life was when she was young. As a 10-year-old, she sold fish near their home and earned extra by washing jeepneys.

Her father drove a tricycle, and sometimes she would wash it for him.

“Naglilinis ako ng jeep. Nababayaran ako ng sampung piso (I earn P10 cleaning jeepneys),” she said.

“May pangkain na ako (I can buy food),” said Diaz, also recalling that when she was young she used to carry gallons and gallons of water to their house from the deep well.

“Dun siguro ako lumakas (That made me strong),” she said.

As she trained, Diaz said her mother would give her P20 for fare. But she would find a way to get free rides, so she could return the money to her mother.

“Mahirap ang buhay (Life was hard),” said the country’s first female Olympic medalist.

She said when the money comes, she’d buy a lot near their home in Zamboanga and build a weightlifting center for children.

“Para sa mga nangangarap din na maging (For those who dream of becoming) Olympic champions,” she said.

With her feat, the Philippines ended a 20-year medal drought in the Olympics.

And for that she will be rewarded. – With Olmin Leyba






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