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WITH A MIGHTY heave, Hidilyn Diaz lifted us out of Olympic obscurity and, said not a few, to an extent above even the political doldrums that long weighed down on our country’s shoulders. Of course, it would be unfair to call Ms. Diaz a panacea for that which ails us. But she’s surely a salve we so desperately need on a gaping and smarting wound of division.
Many all over the world had questioned the wisdom of pushing through with the quadrennial meet during the pandemic, but looking back, this history-making participation is appearing to be just what Filipinos need during a distressing time of COVID, politicking, and economic difficulty.
The historic first-ever gold medal for the Philippines in almost 100 years is mind-blowing. Its significance cannot be diminished (but, to be fair, kegler Arianne Cerdena also struck gold back in 1988, although bowling was a “demonstration sport” at the Seoul staging, so the medal wasn’t added to the official tally).
The much-deserved windfall for our Filipina weightlifting champion has started. Hidilyn is expected to get tens of millions of pesos for sure, along with free services and goods, sponsorships, perks, and other rewards that come with the magnitude and singularity of her feat. We suspect the universe of brands and supporters will get much bigger longer before very long.
It’s fascinating to note though that Hidilyn Diaz will never have to worry about traveling ever again.
National flag carrier Philippine Airlines got the ball rolling by making Ms. Diaz its first-ever “Forever Flyer.” This means the athlete receives “80,000 miles every year, for life,” said PAL on its Facebook post. The airline also held a simple awarding ceremony on board the PR427 flight that brought her back to her eager, excited countrymen.
Aside from getting a new house and lot, and condominium unit from donors, Hidilyn will have something to park in the garage of these — something big, in fact. Foton Motor Philippines, Inc. (FMPI) President Rommel Sytin announced in a release, “The Filipino pride stands high amid an international audience with the triumph of our Filipino athlete, Hidilyn Diaz. As she drives home glory, we are honored to prize her utmost dedication with the top-rated mobility of the Foton Transvan 13-seater.”
Powered by Foton’s 4JB1T engine (a 2.8-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder diesel) serving up 95hp (at 3,600rpm) and 225Nm (from 1,800 to 2,000rpm) mated to a five-speed manual, the Transvan stretches 4,850mm, is 1,695mm wide, and stands 1,980mm tall. The people mover gets a 1DIN head unit with CD, AM/FM radio, MP3 compatibility, a USB port, and Aux input.
Other accessories included are halogen foglamps, LED turn lamps, high-mount third rear brake light, rear under mirror, and individual seat belts. To keep Hidilyn and all her fellow passengers cool, there’s front and rear air-conditioning. Completing the features list are power windows and power locks. This big van will surely come in handy for our Olympian.
Foton Philippines confirmed to “Velocity” that Hidilyn will be getting a Cool Silver-colored unit.
Meanwhile, the Ayala Group of Companies’ social development arm, Ayala Foundation, Inc. (AFI), recognized Ms. Diaz as an “Atletang Magiting” (Brave Athlete). Aside from this honor, Hidilyn Diaz “will receive a top-of-the-line Kia Stonic” from the Ayala-led AC Motors and Kia Philippines.
Ayala points out that it has been supporting Philippine weightlifters (including Hidilyn) since 2016. The Bank of the Philippine Islands had donated training equipment for the Hidilyn Diaz Weightlifting Gym in Zamboanga City. Then in 2018, Samahang Weightlifters ng Pilipinas received a check donation from Ayala Land.
“Recognizing Diaz under the Maging Magiting program is part of Ayala Foundation’s sustained efforts to promote love of country. Through the Maging Magiting campaign, Ayala Foundation calls on Filipinos to take pride in our heritage and identity, by giving honor to our national emblems such as the flag, while also embodying the call for all of us to be heroes in our own ways,” said AFI in a release.
The Maging Magiting campaign also involves recognizing men and women in uniform through AFI’s Pulis x Pilipinong Magiting initiative.
The aforementioned top-of-the-line Kia Stonic (an EX AT) that will get Hidilyn (in Flash Yellow, we learned, because it’s the color closest to gold) is priced at P925,000. First unveiled in the country in October last year, the Stonic took its place as Kia’s entry-level crossover nameplate. The small SUV gets the brand’s familiar Tiger Nose Grille, a fin-type antenna, roof rails, and LED daytime running lamps (exclusive for the EX), rear combination lamps, a rear spoiler garnish, and projector headlamps. It rides on 16-inch alloy wheels.
Hidilyn won’t need to fumble with keys in the traditional manner as the EX gets smart entry and a push start system. The infotainment is predicated on an eight-inch touchscreen audio system that is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. This is hooked up to a total of six speakers. The EX also gets a USB port and a 12V socket. Other niceties available to the EX alone are hill start assist and electronic stability control.
Two nice-looking vehicles in the garage for Hidilyn, plus unlimited-mileage flights? You deserve them and more, Hidilyn! Congratulations and thank you!