As the first Philippine athlete to win a medal in 20 years, and the first Filipina to win an Olympic medal, no one would blame Hidilyn Diaz for taking a break or even calling it a career. However, at the age of 25, this Philippine Air Force servicewoman knows that deep within herself, she has more to offer.
“Parang ayoko na muna mag-retire,” she said in a press conference following her return to Manila, where she was greeted with a well-earned hero’s welcome. “Ngayon pa lang, nami-miss ko na ang pagbubuhat.”
The welcome she received upon landing in Manila was nothing compared to her reception in her native Zamboanga, where she was the center of attention in a motorcade arranged in her honor. For her achievement, Diaz received a five million peso incentive from a grateful nation, as well as an additional two million from the President.
Now that the dust has settled, and Rio 2016 is but a blip in her rearview, Hidilyn has her sights set on Tokyo 2020.
“Siguro hindi na ako papayag na Silver lang. Gusto ko gold. Pipilitin ko (I don’t think I’ll go for silver. I want to go for gold. I’ll do my best).”
At a time when every other headline and social post seems mired in negativity, Diaz stands as a shining example of the power of the human spirit. Most importantly, she has given Philippine athletes of every age and gender someone they can look up to and aspire to be. Whether or not she wins the Gold at this point is irrelevant (though we will all certainly be watching to see if she does). What Hidilyn has given her country is far more important than any mere medal: she’s given us hope.