A hero’s strength is measured by his heart

AS A MATTER OF FACT - Sara Soliven De Guzman - The Philippine Star

The Taoist spiritual concept of Yin and Yang proved itself last week, when after the gloomy State of the Nation Address, we received the happiest news ever – that Hidilyn Diaz won the first Olympic Gold for the country.

As the song written by David Zippel, Go the Distance, for Disney’s movie Hercules goes, “For a hero’s strength is measured by his heart.” This is what Hidilyn showed us. As Bum Tenorio, social writer of The Philippine STAR, put it:

“Pride and Glory! Admirable is the resolve of Hidilyn Diaz. She was once ‘red-tagged’ by some people in power. She was trolled. She got hurt, even feared for her life. Cash-strapped in her training, she resorted to asking funds from others. She did not see her family – her stronghold, her life, her muse, her reason for being – for so long while in training. Still, she was unrelenting in her desire to give honor to her country. Then the first ever gold of the Philippines in Olympics. Courtesy of her. From her grit. From her spirit undaunted. From her soul. From her life. In times when we are unsure of heroism in our land, Hidilyn lifted us all up to prove that we don’t run short of heroes in this country. Hidilyn made us cry today. And those were tears of pride and dignity.”

Congratulations, Hidilyn! You are an epic, “extremely awesome” hero.

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The Philippines first competed in the Olympic Games in 1924 in Paris. We were the first country in Southeast Asia to compete. In 1928, in Amsterdam, we won our first bronze medal. Since then, we have competed at every Summer Olympics except in 1940 due to the outbreak of World War II.

We won the following medals at the Summer Olympics: 1928, Amsterdam – 1 bronze; 1932, Los Angeles – 3 bronze medals; 1936, Berlin – 1 bronze; 1964, Tokyo – 1 silver; 1988, Seoul – 1 bronze; 1992, Barcelona, Spain – 1 bronze; 1996, Altanta – 1 silver; 2016, Rio de Janeiro – 1 silver; 2021, Tokyo – 1 gold.

This brings us to a total of 7 bronze medals, 3 silver and 1 gold. The country has also participated at the Winter Olympic Games in 1972 where it sent two Alpine skiers.

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What is the importance of sports in nation building? Why must a country take care of its athletes?

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said, “Sport is a universal language. At its best it can bring people together, no matter what their origin, background, religious beliefs or economic status.”

He added, “We must use the power of sports as an agent of social change.”

E Times described sports as the only common thread that binds people together and helps in developing a feeling of patriotism and unity that can counter regional factionalism and sinister design of various separatist forces.

Remember that time when South Africa hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1995 after ending years of apartheid in 1994? Rugby, along with football and cricket, is one of South Africa’s national sports. However, it has always been viewed as a “white man’s game.” After years of struggle, of course it was very difficult for many South Africans to support their predominantly white team. But they set this aside and put the nation ahead of the race. They came out victorious as it was for their president, Nelson Mandela.

Today, sports does not only improve community health and productivity but also contributes to the development of character and discipline of the people. Sports develops the spirit of sportsmanship, camaraderie, unity and fair play amongst athletes. It unites the spirit of a nation.

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Last week, Philippine STAR columnist Bobit Avila passed away. He was a very close friend of my late father, Maximo V. Soliven. He actually considered my dad as his mentor. He never grew tired writing about how he met my dad and how my dad helped him become a journalist.

In one of his columns entitled, “Remembering Sir Max,” he wrote, “Tomorrow Sept. 4th is the birthday of my friend and mentor Sir Maximo V. Soliven. He passed away on Nov. 24, 2006… He would have been 91 years old today. Indeed, few people that you would ever encounter in your life would make great changes in your life. I was merely a businessman in Cebu City contented with the life I had when I met Sir Max, whom we invited to the Cebu Rotary Club meeting. Then a year later, after the EDSA Revolution, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Inc. (CCCI) asked him to be a keynote speaker in the Chamber’s annual conference. With a new government installed after the Marcos dictatorship had left… the Cebuanos wanted to know from Max how things would shape up.

“As I mentioned, I was not a writer, not even a budding one, when I first met Sir Max… However, he wanted a credible person to represent him and his newly acquired newspaper The Philippine STAR... as they had just left the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), so he called me the bureau chief of The STAR and later taught me how to write columns. As I was not even a budding writer, it challenged Sir Max to turn me into a journalist… 33 years later… here I am still writing for The Philippine STAR and The Freeman. My columns Shooting Straight were named by Sir Max, including my 20-year-old cable TV program in SkyCable that he called ‘Straight from the Sky.’

“It is hard to forget my 20-year friendship with Sir Max because I know I wouldn’t be anyone if not for him. This is why when I need to comment on something I often would ask…‘What would Sir Max say?’”

Rest in peace, Tito Bobit. We will surely miss you. Our Philippine STAR angels led by Tita Betty and my dad are there to welcome you in heaven’s gate. Surely you will get a hero’s welcome for courageously writing the truth in your column, “Shooting Straight” by Bobit Avila.

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