Labor Attaché in Tokyo, Japan Marie Rose Escalada had the privilege of speaking with Olympic gold medalist, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz before the latter’s flight back home to the Philippines earlier this week.
During that short conversation, the 30-year-old Diaz imparted to Escalada some inspirational words that the latter described as “very touching”. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) official said she later told overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) about it.
“I spoke with her [Diaz] but only virtually kasi very strict po yung Olympic Committee sa Japan (because the Olympic Committee was very strict),” Escalada told Manila-based reporters during a press briefing on Zoom.
“Actually touching masyado yung sinabi niya (Her words were very touching), and I shared it to the OFWs. Kailangan lang po daw, ang dream, kailangang hawakan. Yun lang po yung sinabi niya (She said that dreams must be held on to. That’s all that she said),” recounted Escalada, who was smiling from ear-to-ear.
“Grabe talaga ang effect niya sa amin (She’s had a significant effect on us). She was really happy during that time),” Escalada further said of Diaz during the briefing, which was organized by DOLE.
Diaz, of Zamboanga City, won the Philippines’ first-ever Olympic gold medal last July 26 in the ongoing summer games in Tokyo, Japan. She arrived back in the country amid much adulation two days later.
The weightlifter actually won a silver medal during the previous staging of the Olympics in Rio, Brazil, in 2016. However, the true goal was to bring home the first Olympic gold medal to the Philippines, which had been joining the quadrennial games since 1924.
The Tokyo games were supposed to be held last year, but was delayed no thanks to the emergence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) scourge. There have also been aggressive calls to cancel the games entirely, but fortunately the Philippines’ gold medal dreams, it didn’t happen.