When weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz hefted 200-kilograms in the wee hours of Monday (Philippine time) to become the country’s first female Olympic medal winner, she was rightfully hailed for uplifting the hopes of the nation. For Diaz, however, she was accomplishing something much more meaningful and personal: giving her mother the perfect birthday gift.
To be fair, Emelita Diaz’s birthday was the day before, but because of the time difference, it had barely ended two hours before daughter Hidilyn scored the Philippine’s first medal in twenty years, so it definitely counts. From half a world away, she was paying tribute to her roots back home in Zamboanga City, where her loved ones eagerly awaited news of the competition.
As for Emelita herself, she and husband Eduardo were not among the international audience following along via live feed, as they had elected to pray the Rosary for Hidilyn’s success. Around 3am, Allen Jayfrus Diaz, the cousin who had introduced Hidilyn to the sport of weightlifting and even acted as her first coach, ran to their house to give them the good news after seeing it on TV as it happened.
“Of course, we’re happy – we were in tears with happiness,” Emelita told TV reporters in Filipino, before sharing how she had prayed for the entire week leading up to the event. “I said thank you to God for hearing our prayers.”
From a mother’s prayers to the gratitude of a nation, it looks like the Diaz family will have much to celebrate when Hidilyn comes home this Sunday to a well-deserved hero’s welcome.