The medal, the woman, glory and gold

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero Ballescas - The Freeman

The Miraculous Medal.

Early photos of Filipino Olympic weightlifting champion, Hidilyn Diaz, showed a Miraculous Medal around her neck, aside from her newly-achieved Olympic gold medal. Later, Hidilyn was photographed proudly holding and showing all this Miraculous Medal.

As backgrounder, “the Miraculous Medal (or Médaille miraculeuse in French), or also known as the Medal of Our Lady of Graces, contains images that the Virgin Mary, in her apparitions to St. Catherine Laborte, asked to be put on medallions so that ‘all who wear them will receive great graces.’”

After her victory, Hidilyn repeatedly thanked God and lifted up the Miraculous Medal.

“Our golden girl showing her Miraculous Medal,” our friend Tiptip Panlilio captioned her FB post. Tiptip wrote that it was “David Panlilio who gave Hidylin the medal which came from Paris.” The post narrated that “our family friend and head of the Daughters of Charity, Father Thirdie Caballero, explained to Hidilyn about the Miraculous Medal and together, they prayed the novena for Hidilyn for nine days in preparation for the competition.”

In a news conference, Hidilyn said she prayed the novena and thanked her friends who prayed the Miraculous Medal novena with her. Hidyln explained that the Miraculous Medal “is a sign of … my faith to Mama Mary and Jesus Christ.”

Hidilyn attributed her victory to God. “Na-sorpresa ako na nagawa ko 'yun! Kakaiba si God.”

The Woman.

Hidilyn, the woman athlete, was devoted to Mama Mary, full of grace and blessed among women.

Like Mama Mary who proceeded to follow God’s will and mission for her despite the challenges she encountered -- giving birth to Jesus Christ, her Son, in a manger, witnessing the false witnesses vs her Son as well as His passion and crucifixion -- Hidilyn, the woman athlete, had hurdles to cross as well, but she chose to bear and go beyond these with the grace of God and Mama Mary.

Hidilyn did not allow their poverty to stop her from her dream to be a champion weightlifter. Instead, she embraced the heavy pails of water she had to bring back to their home. She made cement barbells to practice. She did not allow detractors, who said weightlifting was for men, not women, to stop her from pursuing her dream as a champion weightlifter. She did not allow lack of funds to stop her from participating and winning games, in the Philippines, in Asia and now in the Olympics!

Glory and Gold.

Mama Mary was rewarded with God’s glory for her unwavering faith in His mission for her. Hidilyn, the woman athlete, carried the heavy weight for God and her country and was rewarded with the world’s accolade and gold.

The first Olympic gold victory for the Philippines, after close to a hundred years of struggle, was truly a testimony to faith, trust in God and in one’s own God-provided potentials. Truly, God is great. “Kakaiba si God!”

The first glorious Olympic victory showed a woman carrying the weight traditionally thought only men could lift. Oh, the message of hope and inspiration that first Olympic gold victory reverberating for girls, including those from the ranks of the marginalized!

What made this first Olympic victory sweeter and more meaningful was Hidilyn’s challenging and winning over the powerful Chinese world record weightlifting titleholder!

She did not only win the first gold for the Philippines. She did not only establish a new world record. Her victory as a Filipino against her Chinese competitor is poetic and symbolic.

Where Filipino male chauvinist leaders quiver and hesitate to challenge a military giant like China, this determined Filipino woman athlete showed Filipinos can challenge and win vs the rich and powerful.

Salamat, mabuhay, Hidilyn!

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