The Olympics have shown that Filipino society supports only those who’ve already succeeded

July 29th, 2021

Hidilyn Diaz just bagged the Philippines’ first gold medal at the Olympics and now she’s getting all the rewards — lifetime free flight passes from a number of airlines, a house and lot, a condominium unit worth 14 million pesos, and more. 

Of course she deserves the rewards, because winning the country’s first ever Olympic gold medal is quite the milestone. But this also reflects something about our society — we only reward Filipinos who attain really high achievements but we show little support for aspirants who have the potential to be winners. 

As cited in past articles from other publications, there were two members of the Philippine Paralympic swimming team who struggled with lack of financial support from the government. In March 2019, the two athletes revealed that they had yet to receive an allowance from the government even though two years had already passed since they joined the national training pool. According to the team coaches Tony Ong and Marjorie Palumbari, the two athletes were recommended to the sports agency but they were not given funds. 

Olympic figure skater Michael Martinez also lacked financial support when he was training for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Because of this, his mother wrote a letter to Benigno Aquino III, who was the incumbent president at the time. 

Martinez intends to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, but he still lacks funds to prepare for the event. A GoFundMe page has been set up to gather funds to help him train for the event. 

Before Diaz won the gold medal, Hidilyn herself had struggled with the lack of financial support from the government. Back in 2019, she shared an Instagram story requesting sponsorships from private companies while she was prepping for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

“Is it okay to ask sponsorship sa mga private companies towards Tokyo 2020?” Diaz wrote. “Hirap na hirap na ako. Sa tingin niyo okay lang kaya, nahihiya kasi ako pero try ko kapalan ang mukha ko para sa minimithi kong pangarap para sa ating bansa na maiuwi ang gold medal sa Olympics.” 

The Philippine Sports Commission had immediately responded to her post saying that the government hasn’t been negligent in giving her financial support for her training. PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez said that Diaz had one of the highest allowances among national athletes and that she was also receiving support from the Philippine Air Force since she was an enlisted personnel. But despite all that, Diaz had struggled because the government simply doesn’t allot adequate financial support towards athletes. 

Even Hidilyn Diaz had been through the experience of struggling through training while the government failed to properly support her financially. But now that she’s managed to bring home the country’s first ever gold medal, she is being given a plethora of rewards. Meanwhile, we have aspirants like Michael Martinez, who’s still lacking financial support from the government. 

The mindset that a Filipino has to be high achieving before our society deems them worthy of rewards is problematic because it makes it seem like we only care about results — specifically, we only care when the results are extremely high. But if we change that and start giving more support to aspirants, it could help them to do better and achieve their goals and dreams. 

 

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