Hidilyn Diaz makes history. After almost 100 years in contending at the Olympics, the Philippines finally won its first Olympic Gold medal. Hidilyn Diaz earned Gold in the women’s 55-kilogram weightlifting event at the Japan 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. She lifted a total of 224 kilograms, outperforming the Chinese world record holder of the past several years, Liao Qiuyun who ended up getting the silver medal with her total of 223 kilograms.
In Diaz’s interviews with the media, she attributed her victory first to God, the very cause and reason, she emphasized, for her ending up where she is. And yes, where this 30-year-old is now is at the top of her sport, the crème of the country’s pride, the toast of celebrations, and a bright, distinguished place in Philippine history. She remarked that her victory also is due to the tremendous help and encouragement from her family and friends, the support from the nation and several organizations and, not to forget, the very hard work she had to undergo for this competition, in the midst of the pandemic. Testimony to the resourcefulness and determination of her competitive spirit, not having actual weights for her practices, she persevered to prepare for the event by lifting heavy water jugs as substitutes for weights. A glorious yet humble win.
Diaz, the new world’s record holder in women’s weightlifting, garnered the silver medal in that event in the 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro. The Philippines now has a total of 11 Olympic medals won since its first Olympic participation in 1924.
A toast to the Olympic spirit
At this juncture, I take the opportunity to mention one other Philippine contender at the Tokyo Olympics, Margielyn Didal, who competed in women’s street skateboarding.
Faith. The very jewel in the heart of our existence. Its presence or lack of – that defines our existence, the path we choose to tread and the goals we reach for.
In very simple terms, we understand faith as belief in the unseen. For me personally, faith is my belief in the one sovereign, almighty God who sent His only begotten son, Jesus, to earth to sacrifice and die on the cross for our redemption. And that Jesus rose again and defeated death. The power and love of God!
Faith — the conviction that love triumphs over hate and indifference, light over darkness, good over evil.
Faith – belief in things unseen. Yet, I see God in the myriad of manifestations in the world/universe that He created. Simply put, I see Him in the beauty of the flowers in the garden outside my window, in the strength of the trees with their overarching branches outside my porch. I see Him and hear Him in the laughter of children riding their bikes on the street, in the hummingbirds circling the buds on the camelia plant outside my patio. I see Him in the glow of a moonlit night as I gaze through my sky roof. I see Him in the faces of my loved ones. He really is everywhere. So how can I not have faith?
The whole wide world is rich in faith, if only we recognize and receive it. It’s there, and it’s freely given.
It was the mid-60’s. An era marked by tension over the Vietnam War, the gloom over young lives lost in the battlefields, the infectious rigor of drummed up peace movements, the heightened clamor for civil rights, flower children with beads around their necks and colorful bands on their hair, and peace signs everywhere.
That was the time I came to the US for a year’s stint as an American Field Service (AFS) scholar and exchange student to Pennsylvania. Starry-eyed and full of expectations tinged with anxiety, I stepped off the Pan American plane from Manila, and at San Francisco airport, extremely amazed how 15 hours of travel took me to the opposite side of the globe. That was my first travel outside of the Philippines.
A bus load of teenage exchange students from the Philippines and other countries of Asia was transported to Stanford University campus for a 3-day orientation. That bus ride was magical during that August early evening. Silhouettes of tall buildings dramatically marked the San Francisco skyline, and lights of houses on the hillsides sparkled like fireflies. We were mesmerized. I remember exclaiming – isn’t that the acropolis? Remembering of course my lesson on Greece and its history. Those who knew what I meant chorused – oh yes, like the acropolis. Yet none of us had been to Greece. But we felt we were in Greece. Was this America? Silly, yes of course, our chaperone said, and she drew our attention to the hazy blue of the bay to our left, with glittering lights on the far shore. Ah, the Mediterranean, a few of us remarked. So that was it – San Francisco was like Greece … a strange first impression for me and some others in the bus. Unforgettable first impression!
Scores of greetings for my husband’s birthday today have been quite heartwarming. Poignant is the word that describes the appreciation, respect and love that many hold for Stanley, deceased in December 2015. We who love him find great delight in the realization that he is not forgotten. A treasure of memories reminds us of how much of a caring, thoughtful and fun guy he was, smart, witty and rich in humor. His earthly birthday brings him to 80 today, but his heavenly birthday (December 4) is two weeks before my birthday, and three weeks from Christmas. Lots to commemorate in December.
Not strange at all to me that I should dream of him early in the morning, a vision so real that it woke me up right before my alarm clock rang. I didn’t need that alarm clock. My day began sweetly and beautifully. I think I was mysteriously energized.
While we do not fully comprehend the thread that runs through the spiritual realm and existential reality, this I’m convinced – love does not end with death. And in the palm of God’s hands, our connections endure.
So, happy blessed birthday, Stanley – and as I said in my Facebook post – enjoy the celebration with the saints, angels and loved ones in the beyond – and especially sing your best tenor before the Lord!
A most enjoyable sushi-making spree with work colleagues at my home last Sunday. Before I tell you why, I’d like to share the photo of stunning flowers I received from retired colleagues who drove all the way from Davis, CA to partake of the fun in our sushi-making gourmet adventure. Purely delightful!
My bonus from last Sunday’s sushi-making spree — flowers given by guests from Davis, CA
Cañada poolside getting ready for the big July 4th festivity with fireworks from nearby Pasadena Rose Bowl down the hill (LA area)