BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz - The Philippine Star

At this time, most Filipinos have heard about the glorious triumph of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz – the first citizen from the Philippines to win an Olympic gold medal. There is nothing much I can add to the accolades she has been receiving for her historic performance.

I felt, however, that I needed to say something or else years from now, I will regret being silent about this event in my columns.

One of the most impressive things about her life story is her perseverance, a trait that Filipinos are not really known to possess. This is Hidilyn’s FOURTH Olympics. After she won the silver medal in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, many people expected her to retire in triumph. But her dream was the Olympic gold and she decided to persevere in her preparation. She had no help from government and very little help from the private sector. In fact, at one point she had to beg, on social media, for financial assistance. She was heavily criticized by trolls for this act of begging. I am sure that the same people criticizing her are now part of her fans club.

In 2019 after winning the Olympic silver medal, she accepted a scholarship offer from De La Salle-College of St. Benilde. She majored in Business Management; and it seemed she was preparing for a new life. However, in 2019, she shifted to an online course because of preparations for the 2020 Olympics. The story of how she got stuck in Malaysia because of the pandemic and her training with inadequate equipment has been retold in many stories.

Br. Dennis Magbanua, FSC tells a story about her in Benilde. “She does not only have an Olympic Gold – she also has a heart of gold for those who have less in life. She went with us to Sapang Uwak, Porac, Pampanga to serve as a Benildean volunteer to teach her sport together with other talented Benildeans.”

He has several pictures of Hidilyn leading several Aeta kids in the proper methods of weightlifting. “(There was) Hidilyn Diaz teaching Aeta kids in PEACEKAMP in Sapang Uwak to lift weights by just showing the correct form and using bamboo cut from the surrounding area.”

Where did she find the strength to persevere in her dreams? Many say that it is her Catholic faith. On her victory night she was wearing two medals. One was the Olympic gold medal and the other one was the Miraculous Marian Medal.

Normally, triumphant life stories are also due to people who inspire heroes and heroines. While a few people, like her cousin, helped her start her Olympic journey, the person she loved the most – her mother – did not want her daughter to be a weightlifter, fearing no one would like her enough to have a family. Hidilyn somehow found the internal strength and faith to fulfill her dream.

Hidilyn Diaz deserves all the praises and financial rewards she is getting. I am not surprised that she has announced that she will continue competing next year. I only hope and pray that when her story finally ends, it will be a fairy tale ending and that she will live happily ever after.

Br. Bernard Oca, FSC

A Lasallian institution, Br. Bernard Oca has been elected to be president of De La Salle University-Manila effective Aug. 1, 2021. Br. Oca is a Lasallian through and through. He finished grade school at La Salle Taft, his high school at La Salle Greenhills; his Bachelor of Arts in Literature, Masters degree in Languages and Literature; Doctor of Education in Religious and Values Education at DLSU-Manila.

He entered the postulancy of the Christian Brothers in 1971, took the habit of the Brothers in 1974 and his final vows at La Salle Greenhills in 1980.

Br. Oca is one of the most popular Brothers among the alumni. He was vice chancellor of Lasallian Mission and Alumni Relations for many years. Another reason for his popularity is that he is a sports aficionado. He is known for attending UAAP games, even those that are considered non-bearing games. Now that he is president, I am sure he will be a constant fixture in UAAP games, win or lose. He is also known to have a fondness for the game of golf. I have met many alumni who claim that they have played a golf game with him.

Aside from DLSU-Manila, Br. Oca is concurrently president of De La Salle Araneta University, De La Salle Santiago Zobel School in Alabang, and the Jaime Hilario Integrated School-La Salle in Bagac, Bataan. The last is a subsidized school for the children of farmers and fishermen in that area.

Br. Bernard Oca will be another Lasallian university president that will build on the successes of past presidents and maintain the status of DLSU as the most outstanding private university in the Philippines.

Corrections on Philippine election tales

I wrote a column last week on Tales of Philippine Elections. Two or three readers, including Paul Aquino, sent me letters correcting some of my historical stories. Here are my corrections.

After the Second World War, the Liberal Party was founded and its presidential candidate was Manuel Roxas, not Gerardo Roxas. The PDP was founded in 1982 and not 1992. Finally, the debate on boycott vs. participation was regarding the 1984 National Assembly elections. The issue did not come up during the 1986 snap elections.

I stand corrected. Thanks to those who sent corrections. I always strive for historical accuracy.

*      *      *

Young Writers’ Hangout on Aug. 7 & 21, 2-3 p.m. Contact writethingsph@gmail.com. 0945.2273216

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with