It was the Thrillmaker’s turn to get thrilled last Thursday when talent manager, multi-media personality and influencer rolled-into-one, Noel Ferrer, gave me the chance to have a full-day one-on-one time with the country’s newest hero and hottest property at the moment, Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz. Of course, the exclusive meeting was made all the more convenient for me by the fact that it happened at the Sheraton Manila, right at the heart of my home base, Resorts World Manila in Pasay City.
That wasn’t my first meeting with the Zamboangena weightlifter. Our first meeting happened back in 2018 when she awarded aeta UP graduate Norman King as her successor as Resorts World Manila’s Lucky Person of the Year, where I was fortunate enough to be chosen as her escort for the evening. More than a year later, we met each other again after she bagged the gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in Manila. It was at that time when she introduced to me her boyfriend and coach, Julius Naranjo.
Those meetings were enough for Haidie (her nickname) and I to somehow forge a bond of friendship. Reason why, I really prayed for her to do well in her Olympic battle. Of course, she did and when we came face to face again late last week, I fully understood why she wasn’t able to control her tears from falling when she was finally awarded her much-deserved gold.
“Nakaka-proud maging Pilipino. Habang pinapanood ko parati sa TV nasasabi ko wow, nagawa ko yun. Tapos nai-play yung Philippine anthem sa Olympics, wow, nagawa natin. Nagawa nating mga Pilipino,” she recalled about her victorious moment.
As I knew other news people would surely be writing about her rigorous training, selfless sacrifices and real motivation for winning, I thought of probing her instead about topics that may be left unanswered if no one bothered to ask.
As a girl who faces the world every time she competes internationally, does she still care to doll herself up with make-up to make sure she still looks pretty in the eyes of an international audience?
“Nagli-lipstick po ako at nagki-kilay po ako para syempre maganda. Pakita na rin syempre sa mga kalaban na eto ako, hindi ako affected sa inyo. Saka isa pa pag kinakabahan ka yung labi mo namumutla eh,” she replied. Her lipstick color preference: deep red.
Is she friends, at all, with her fellow competitors or do they really go to the stadium as gladiators up for a fight?
According to Haidie: “Hindi lang talaga sobrang close. Naghehello, how are you naman. Tapos ok, ganun lang. Etong sii China, nag-hi naman ako. Ni hao ma! Pinansin naman ako.”
Lifting up a weight that shattered world records must have had a secret strengthening diet. What could that meal plan be like?
“Half rice, minsan higit pa. Mga 60 grams, 80 grams yung rice. Tapos may 70 grams of meat, fish, tapos may one cup of vegetables,” she shared.
While her plans to go on training and seeking for more golds for the country had already been written about, what about her plans on the personal side? Isn’t she getting married anytime soon?
“Ay, sya ang tanungin mo!” Hidilyn answered with a chuckle and pointing, of course, to Julius.