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    COLUMN: Can growing list of incentives ever be enough to thank Hidilyn?

    Jul 28, 2021
    Hidilyn Diaz gets emotional after seeing the support upon her arrival at Sofitel Manila.
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
    spin zone

    CHICAGO -- Days after the first-ever golden Olympic feat, some of the shock and awe have subsided, but the tide of Philippine pride remains sky high.

    And the feeling of incalculable joy will last forever.

    After 28 years in sports reporting, at age 53 and at a time when my ink is about to run dry, literally and metaphorically, I never imagined this moment would arrive in my lifetime.

    At least not in this Olympic cycle, one that has already been distorted by a postponement and threatened by a coronavirus pandemic and its more vicious Delta variant.

    A 4-foot-11, 54.9 kilogram weightlifter with a heart twice her size somehow managed to ignore all of that.

    Thank you, Hidilyn Diaz.

    hidilyn diaz, tokyo olympics, snatch

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    Thank you for your years of military service and for the sacrifices you've made as a national athlete. And most of all, thank you for plucking glory from the locked jaws of misery.

    The records will reflect that by ruling the 55-kilogram class in weightlifting's distaff side, Hidilyn lifted 127 kilograms to snatch gold. She beat the best -- China's world record holder Liao Qiuyun - to be the best.

    She also lifted a heavier burden, which is our country's 97-year gold medal hunt that had been drenched with so much tears and heartache and longing.

    The burden of our hope and expectations must have felt like a 700-pound gorilla on the broad shoulders of this 30-year-old gift from Zamboanga city.

    Without the means to watch the historic event's live streaming I only saw her winning moment on replay after the fact.

    IT STILL GAVE ME GOOSEBUMPS.

    After calmly cleaning 127 kilograms, she relied on her sturdy knees to jerk all that weight and then hold it triumphantly up high, arms quivering, long enough to merit the three white lights that confirmed the gold.

    Her final routine lasted just about 11.69 seconds and it wiped away nine decades worth of Olympic sadness.

    It also scrubbed the mistakes, missteps and sins of many of our sports leaders who have driven our program straight into the ravine of failure. All is forgiven and forgotten. No more silver linings to placate forlorn feelings. We actually have a gold medal now, at long last, to cherish for a lifetime.

    How sweet is that?

    Incentives have since rained on Hidilyn. And deservedly so.

    Including two houses and lots, the bounty is over P60 million right now. There is much speculation whether those gifts are taxable or not.

    So here's a proposition. Make it tax-free, Whether via an act of congress or a presidential executive order, just do it. Pretty please.

    If conglomerates and wealthy individuals are allowed to exploit the taxation system through shell companies and suspect tax shelters, a legal exemption should be accorded to allow a national hero to collect in full all the benefits she had earned.

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    Even that is not enough.

    Hidilyn Diaz arrival gold medal JA

    Erect a statue for Hidilyn Diaz at both the PSC and POC complex.. Make her triumph a permanent monument for hardwork and perseverance.

    Put her happy face in the Philippine currency and print a 127 peso bill in her honor.

    Give her a license to operate her own nationwide ride-share franchise, too, and then call it Lift.

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    Even all of that may still be not enough.

    But the truth is, we may never ever be able to thank Hidilyn fully.

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      Saludo kami sa iyo, ma'm.

      Mabuhay ka Sgt. Diaz!

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      Hidilyn Diaz gets emotional after seeing the support upon her arrival at Sofitel Manila.
      PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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