Lives less ordinary

SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. - The Philippine Star

The Hidilyn Diaz life story has been sensationally posted in literature, pop culture periodicals, social media. The TV movie on her 2016 Rio Olympics silver breakthrough, courtesy of ABS-CBN’s Maalaala Mo Kaya, will need major updating. Nothing less than a full-length movie this time, headlined by any of our top actresses deserving of the honor to portray the Olympic medalist and her inspiring journey to golden glory.

Hidilyn is not an unknown variable. Our columnists have written about the neat segments of her episodic life. Commonly, her determination and perseverance in the run up to the Games amid the failure of funding support that reduced her to begging from both public and private sectors, the lack of adequate training facilities and the challenges of the pandemic. Equally highlighted today are the courage and the audacity she displayed on the Olympic stage.

The story within. We’ve read about how Team China had utterly underestimated her. This is one of the plot twists that have thrown conspiracy theorists into a tizzy, painting the same with stark metaphorical strokes of their geopolitical brushes. This familiar, strategic disparagement of Filipino ability ultimately proved to be their undoing.

China’s strategy fail is not without basis. During the dramatic medal showdown, we saw that Hidilyn responded to Liao Qiuyun’s second lift of 123 kg with her own second lift of 124 kg. With one remaining lift for both, the Chinese team gambled that 126 kg was all they needed for the gold. After all, Liao would regularly beat Hidilyn in previous meets. They knew the latter had never lifted 125 kg, not even in training. Liao, on the other hand, is the world record holder at 129 kg which she hoisted at the World Championship in Thailand just last 2019.

Fate or faith. So Liao lifted her last 126 kg, very comfortably as we saw, and then sat and waited for Hidilyn’s inevitable fail. China was very confident that Hidilyn’s final weight of 127 kg was an impossible ask. But that night, nothing was impossible. With her Our lady of the Miraculous Medal around her neck and the trademark smiling face, Hidilyn lifted 127 kg, the gold medal, the Olympic record and her country into history.

The Olympics takes place every four years, made five by the pandemic. So many stories have inspired us. Hidilyn’s heroism is not a solitary tale.

Margielyn Didal, our world famous street skateboarder with her own kwek-kwek to riches narrative, also did us all proud. Like Hidilyn, she too lacked the opportunity, the facilities for proper training. Didal has been vocal about the lack of skateparks in the country for an event which is now an Olympic sport.

In Tokyo, we witnessed Margielyn’s Miriam Quiambao-esque fall and rise; how she battled through the pain of a rough landing to end up 7th. At the skateboard event’s brutal classification round, only the top 8 of the 20 best in the world advanced to the final. Margielyn edged out her idol and role model, former World no. 1 Leticia Bufoni who ended up 9th; and current World No. 1 Pamela Rosa who landed 10th.

Forget for the moment the burden of the pandemic and, wherever you are in this world where disorder reigns and whatever your political leaning, be proud of what your countrymen have accomplished. The summer games are a reminder that we all can come together. And that this is all, ultimately, for tomorrow’s generation.

The heart of the righteous. We pay to tribute to Dr. Homobono “HB” Belen Calleja, 92. Healer to rich and poor alike, young and old; world renowned cardiologist, international text book author, research scientist, leader, teacher, husband, father and grandfather. These are but a few of the many portraits of his life.

One of the greatest doctors the nation has produced, he was president of the Philippine Medical Association, Philippine Heart Association; integral to the establishment of the  Philippine Heart Center, St. Luke’s Medical Center Heart and Vascular Institute, Mary Mediatrix Medical Center. He is regarded as the founding father of Philippine echocardiography. His passing will be deeply felt in the profession.

In his own words. At his farewell mass, his eldest daughter Alice Maceda Calleja de Lapeyrière spoke of how her father truly understood our Creator and knew fully well his reason for being here. She shared this excerpt from a speech delivered by Uncle HB before his beloved Kiwanis International in the 1970s: “The Earth is our home and our playing field. We all have our mission: an act to play, to accomplish what is given us.

“The playing field belongs to no one. The players come and go. The position, class or rank among players is not permanent; nothing is. Permanence is not of this world – it is in another where there is no time and dimension. It is well to understand that whatever we do will only fade with time, that is given.

“A few may rise by stepping on others. Some do it by their own effort, industry and determination – it is the real thing. At the crossroads they choose the less traveled path and leave their footprints to guide others who may follow.

“Positions, titles and possessions are temporary scaffolds. They are frequently translated by ambitious men to mean power, sometimes absolutely. While they may be necessary to build an edifice, they are not an edifice. Edifices are built from well-conceived ideas or by ideas that unwittingly cross a prepared mind or by coincidence, chance and serendipity.

“I believe strongly that a retirement well timed is another stone upon which to build an edifice, a tower of faith in the next generations. Although not a single stone is visible, I hope it lives in the hearts of men.

“As night falls, the sailor will be home from the sea and the hunter from the hills and the edifice shall be the landmark for those who seek guidance to chart their course.”

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