From zero to millions in the bank, Hidilyn Diaz focuses on financial literacy

Oct 28, 2021
PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

AFTER she won the country's first gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Hidilyn Diaz's total incentives reportedly surpassed the P50 million mark.

Aside from the legally mandated cash from the government, she received three houses, cars, and other rewards from the country's top business tycoons and companies.

In a snap, the 30-year-old lifted her way to becoming an instant millionaire, the gold around her neck translating to gold inside her bank account.

Hidilyn Diaz arrives from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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Hidilyn came from poverty

It was a totally different story 19 years ago. Before she could lay her hands on barbells, she had to beg her parents for some smaller metal — barya-barya.

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"Anim kaming magkakapatid, tapos tricycle driver 'yung tatay ko. Tuwing hihingi ako ng pera sakanila, sa nanay ko, laging wala," she said.

That's when she started dreaming of working in a bank.

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    "Kaya simula non, sabi ko sa sarili ko na hindi pwedeng ganito lang, gusto maging banker, gusto ko magkaroon ng pera," she continued.

    Even when she started training for weightlifting, she'd accompany her cousins in commutes after classes to save money on transportation expenses.

    "After school, kasama ko yung mga pinsan ko papunta sa gym, sama-sama kami sa tricycle kasi that way, mas nakakatipid sa pamasahe, chip-in lang kami," she shared.

    When she started earning from her competitions, she took half of her prize money to give to her family.

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    "Ang laging hugot ko, gagalingan ko sa sports para may pambigay ako sa nanay ko, sa kapatid ko," she bared.

    Hidilyn Diaz realizes she needs more financial know-how

    That has been the routine, but she came to realize that that was sort of mishandling her finances.

    Her early dream of working in a bank led her to study business management in the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde. And now, a few months since her Olympic victory, she became the newest brand ambassador of the country's leading bank, BDO.

    Hidilyn Diaz on financial literacy.

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    Coincidentally, it was also in BDO where she first opened a bank account about ten years ago, after winning one of her first international competitions.

    "'Pag taga-probinsya ka kasi, every time na pupunta ako ng bangko parang nakakahiya, parang hindi kami belong don. Pero nung nagtrabaho na ako dito sa Manila, naisip ko kailangan eh," she said.

    Diaz continued: “Importanteng magbukas ng account sa bangko, kahit maliit lang ipon mo sa simula. Para lang ‘yan nung nagsimula akong magbuhat ng weights. Start small, kumbaga. Tapos, ‘pag successful ka na, pag lumaki na ipon mo, pwede mo siyang ipang-invest sa ibang bagay na gusto mo o para sa pangarap na gusto mong matupad, para talagang sulit ang mga pinaghirapan natin."

    She also views this as a personal life investment, as her passion and profession of weightlifting will not last long enough to sustain her a lifetime.

    "Habang bata, mag-ipon tayo kasi hindi tayo forever na atleta. Kung wala ka sa sports nang walang ipon, wala pa rin," she tips.

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    And aside from planning to open a 'Hidilyn Diaz Weightlifting Academy' to give back to the sport that changed her life, she also yearns to advocate for financial education — not just for athletes, but for the OFWs and young entrepreneurs as well.

    "Mas okay na may guidance ka na ito 'yung right way. Ito ang advocacy ko ngayon, [to] increase awareness on financial education. Pwedeng-pwede tayong matuto to make the right choices on money," she said.

    Hearing this from someone who knew firsthand what it was like to be empty-handed is a very convincing pitch.

    And now, with people still curious about what she's going to do now that she's a multimilionaire, Diaz makes two things clear: the money didn't change her heart, and all decisions should involve deep research.

    This is even more important, now that she just ready to open another chapter in her life, after getting engaged to coach Julius Naranjo of Team HD.

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    "Binago ng pagkapanalo ko ng gold ang buhay ko, ng pamilya ko, at ni Julius as well kasi after nito, ang daming nagbigay. Ninety percent naibigay na po, nilagay ko 'yon sa private bank," she said. "Nabago ang buhay ko pero hindi ang puso ko."

    Any business plans? Investments?

    She's all for it, but at her own pace.

    "Sa ngayon, wala pa akong time kasi kailangan planuhin nang maayos, hindi pwedeng papasok lang nang hindi natin alam. Pero ambisiyosa ako kaya gusto ko ng business like restaurant, cafe, and parang Airbnb or hotel," she said.

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    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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