AS millions of Filipinos were glued to their TV screens, listening to President Duterte’s long, boring and incomprehensible state of the nation address, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz of Zamboanga pulled the rag from under the feet of the president and made our day.
Hidilyn lifted 127 kilos of barbell in the Tokyo Olympics on July 26, 2021; beating the all-time winner in female weightlifting from China. Although, I have seen male porters load 40-kilo sacks of rice on trucks at the Baguio market, they can carry two sacks at least, equivalent to 80 kilos. I imagined, Ms. Diaz carried an equivalent of three 40-kilo sacks of rice, plus seven kilos extra.
Ms. Diaz snatched the gold in the weightlifting event in the Tokyo Olympics and put the Philippines on the sports world map. This was the first Olympic gold that the country grabbed by the first female to win it. With that, we all seemed to have forgotten that it was still raining cats and dogs that evening.
On that lucky day, 30-year-old Ms. Diaz became the latest Filipina millionaire, not because she will be P40-million plus richer, but because she won a million admirers from all over the world, maybe billions.
Gifts did not stop coming as President Duterte promised her a house and lot in Zamboanga, another guy gave her a house and lot in Tagaytay, still another will give a condominium unit worth P14 million, a Foton van, and many more.
Her winning should make us weigh our country’s status in sports. It is certainly not an easy task to participate in world sports. Just by looking at your opponents makes you feel like packing up to go home because your rivals are bigger and well-trained with up-to-date equipment.
Hidilyn’s win should make us think of seriously crafting a national sports program, maybe pour more funding but seeing to it that it is spent wisely.
While children, whether enrolled or out-of-school are interested in basketball, I have not seen a basketball court that was completed with the necessary features. In most cases, the facility is constructed in trickles.
I recall annual sports competitions for public and private schools. During the opening parade of delegates, we see elected and appointed officials together with all school officials from the highest directors and superintendents down to the referees and coaches.
Of course, they are happy to join the parade to display their new made-to-order and personalized colorful uniforms; complete with caps, T-shirts, jackets and jogging pants. But observe, during the actual competitions, the athletes who directly compete do not have the proper gear. No running shoes and no mitts for track and field athletes, sad to say.
On the same day that Ms. Diaz was competing, President Duterte was delivering his SONA that was not easy to comprehend by the ordinary man on the street. It was even more incomprehensible because of the unnecessary clapping by the audience of lawmakers and public officials.
They were applauding even before Duterte made his point which drove him to express disapproval by asking why they were always clapping. This was aside from a teleprompter that was not working well as it was always hanging and pausing.
Duterte’s last SONA was long and boring as those he mentioned were not what the ordinary man on the street wanted to hear. His first five SONAs were more interesting as he was his own person with his dirty language. That was what millions of common people who can relate with him wanted to hear – his foul language.
He is known for bad mouthing, and hoodlums love him for being natural. They relate with him as one among them or as any backstreet thug who has no pretensions. To an extent, he admitted his closeness to President Xi Jin Ping of China even while he knew that such closeness irked his political enemies
Understandably, the opposition would always be unsatisfied with SONAs and naturally they would not hear from any President what they expect to hear. It is even much harder to make him act and talk the way they have seen previous presidents talk.
For Duterte, he has become the most talked about president, just like Trump. But all presidents are criticized especially if s/he does not act the way they want him to. Because of their own styles, the good things delivered during their incumbency are set aside.
Presidents are incomparable as they are totally different individuals with different mindsets. The audience has to go inside the mind of the speaker to understand his person and what he is talking about. Duterte’s original style of delivering a speech was to talk, saying what he wants to say without thinking about the effect on his audience.
This time he did not mention Federalism when it was this topic that catapulted him to Malacanang. He did not talk about Mandanas law which increased the internal revenue allotment of LGUs from the national wealth. As an ordinary local chief executive, he won as president.
He did not talk about a roadmap to get out of the Covid-19 pandemic problem. Just like any LGU executive, he knew that nobody could predict how the dreaded virus will act in the future. It is a problem that has to be analyzed as it comes.
But he thanked the frontliners, government agencies and the private sector who are fighting the pandemic, hinting that there is a need to unite in order to win the fight against the virus.
What caught my attention was when the president said, there were times he wanted to go out of Malacanang but the Presidential Security Group prevented him from doing so. He said, the PSG has to obey the law on keeping a president safe and secure. This only shows that it is not easy to be president and head a nation. It is lonely at the top.