More than a woman

Published August 1, 2021, 12:22 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng


On July 4th, this column talked about my pipe dream that one day we’d send an all-female contingent to the Olympics. At the risk of being branded a traitor to my gender, I observed how these Filipina athletes seemed to have real drive and dedication, and handled being on the global stage of competition far better than their male counterparts. At the time I’m writing this, we have the crowning achievement of 30-year-old Hidilyn Diaz in the record books – her Gold in the 55 kg. Weightlifting event putting an end to our 97-year Olympic Gold drought; plus one Woman boxer (Nesthy Petecio, assured of a medal finish) still competing, and the two Lady golfers (Saso and Pagdanganan) still to commence their rounds. Our skateboarder (Didal) survived the heats, but finished 7th in the finals; 7th also the story of our other weightlifter (Ando).

While our male boxers are doing fine as well, these results would seem to re-enforce what I’ve been saying, and how the Sports Commissions should really wake up and recognize how these women athletes are deserving of stronger support and financial aid. Sure, we can keep one eye on our “beloved” Basketball team, but if you talk in terms of investment vs. reward, I very much doubt that we’ll ever reap the kind of reward in that sport, that Hidilyn gave us through her supreme effort.

An emotionally charged Hidilyn Diaz, succeeding in finally gifting the Philippines with Olympic Gold.

Hidilyn’s rocky road to Tokyo Olympic glory cannot be discounted or glossed over now that she’s snared the Gold. In 2019, she resorted to appealing to private companies on social media to help her with financial support for her training. During the pandemic, stranded in Malaysia, she continued to improvise and train there with her Chinese coach and Filipino trainer. Even her mental fortitude was put to the test two years ago, when Chief Legal Counsel Panelo included her name as among those linked to an Ouster Duterte movement, which he subsequently declared was a mistake of analysis.

After her Silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics (she had forgettable stints in Beijing and London), there were doubters, wondering if she had anything left in her 30-year-old tank. On the afternoon of July 26, another broadsheet was blithely predicting online that she could do no better than Silver in Tokyo, ceding the Gold to her Chinese rival. So much for that fearless forecast! And these all point to how she alone knew what it would take to prepare for Tokyo, and what she had left for this possibly final grasp at Olympic Gold glory.

So I’m happy for any windfall she gets from copping the Gold. There’ll be a mad corporate scramble to get Hidilyn attached to their brands, just like how everyone on IG has been rifling through their photo library for a past picture with Hidilyn. I met her at an endorsement event once, found her shy and very unassuming, and didn’t feel she wanted yet another person asking for a photo with her. So I don’t have more than a fond memory of talking to her and just telling her how happy I was that she had her 2016 Silver Medal win in Rio.

Like the other women athletes who achieve feats we take national pride in, Hidilyn Diaz and Nesthy Petecio are our warriors of today – they venture into hostile territory and compete with an internalized ferocity that deserves our support from the early stages.

The AXA GHA and COVID-19

For a little over five years now, I’ve been covered by an AXA Global Health Access (GHA) plan; and it was a veritable godsend early this year as I discovered I had early stage Prostate Cancer and elected to have Brachytherapy to arrest it further developing, or spreading to my bones. While I initially opted for the GHA plan because of features such as coverage when I’m abroad, or electing to be treated abroad and getting second opinions; it’s proven to be a comprehensive and dynamic plan over the years.

AXA and it’s GHA Plan, addressing the current COVID situation.

I like how AXA and their GHA have responded to the current COVID-19 situation. Their worldwide coverage includes epidemic and pandemic diseases such as COVID-19, and covers COVID-19 vaccinations until December 31, 2021. While this may not be especially relevant here where LGU’s and private companies are the ones importing the vaccines, for those who choose to go abroad and select which vaccines to have, this is useful. The treatment cost for complications and allergic reactions arising from the approved vaccines is covered as well.

With the health and financial worries that this COVID pandemic has caused, it’s good to note how responsive AXA is in helping us face this crisis.