Hidilyn Diaz Just Got Her Own Kwentong Jollibee Feature and It Just Might Make You *Cry*
Oct 15, 2021   •   Kyzia Maramara
8List.ph is published by ID8, Inc.
Oct 15, 2021   •   Kyzia Maramara
It has been three months since Hidilyn Diaz made history as the first Filipino (and first woman at that!) to bag gold at the Olympics. Her medals and achievements are one for the books but the journey to earning them was admittedly tough. The weightlifter had to start from humble beginnings and join numerous competitions before she finally got her dream goal. We speak for every Filipino when we say we’re so proud of her. And to show just how much, well-loved Filipino brand Jollibee even created a Kwentong Jollibee feature dedicated to Hidilyn’s inspiring Olympic journey! But before you cry your eyes out from the touching tribute, here are 8 things about Hidilyn Diaz you might not know.
Hidilyn is 30 years old; she was born on February 20, 1991 in Zamboanga City to her parents, Eduardo and Emelita Diaz. She is the fifth of six children.
Who would’ve thought a national treasure and successful weightlifter like her wanted to be a banker when she was younger? Hidilyn said in an earlier interview that since her family was poor, she wanted to have a job working with money. “When I was a kid, I told her I wanted to work in a bank and count money. Then eventually get married and raise a kid. The thought of winning in the Olympics never entered my mind,” she said.
Now, Hidilyn has enough money that she was able to lift her family from poverty and even buy land for her siblings.
It wasn’t all decked-out gyms in the beginning. Hidilyn tried playing other sports like basketball and volleyball, but it was weightlifting where she felt like an instant connection. Her cousin, Allen Jayfrus Diaz, acted as her mentor and “coach.” They used improvised barbells made from plastic pipes with lumps of concrete on either end. Eventually, she was weightlifting to get scholarships at Universidad de Zamboanga, and then, much later, to win competitions.
Hidilyn was studying Computer Science at Universidad de Zamboanga, but she dropped out to focus on her weightlifting journey in 2010. Years later, in 2017, she pursued Business Management in De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde through a scholarship grant. The school was near Rizal Memorial Sports Complex, allowing her to easily balance her training and studies. When asked why she decided to finish her studies, Hidilyn reasoned that she won’t be an athlete forever. She needed a degree.
By now, you probably know that Hidilyn is one busy woman. As if she doesn’t already have a lot on her plate, she also found time to join the Philippine Air Force in 2013. In the years that followed, she received a number of promotions: starting as part of the Air Force Special Service Group and went from Airwoman to Airwoman second class in one year. After she bagged silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Hidilyn was promoted to Airwoman first class. When she got back from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she received yet another promotion, this time to staff sergeant.
Many don’t know that Hidilyn is in a three-year relationship with Julius Naranjo, her strength and conditioning coach. He was the first person to jump on the platform and hug her after that historic lift at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The pair met in 2017 at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Filipino-Japanese Julius was at that time representing Guam as another competitive weightlifter. When he first saw Hidilyn, he confessed how he was struck by her willpower and strength. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Probably the best fact about Hidilyn that everyone will appreciate is that she is the country’s first Olympic gold medalist. It was a historic feat celebrated by the entire nation, she did, after all, lift the Philippines with her sheer strength and determination.
Her road to Olympic gold wasn’t easy, but along the way, she did win plenty of medals. She had also bagged silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics, gold at the 2018 Asian Games and 2019 SEA Games, bronze at the 2019 World Championships.
Hidilyn received a warm welcome as Jollibee’s newest endorser with a touching Kwentong Jollibee feature that might just make you tear up. Entitled “Ginto,” the latest Kwentong Jollibee is a special one since it’s based on the weightlifter’s inspiring story of triumph. It showed Hidilyn’s humble beginnings and how much her hard work, grit, and determination paid off.
This Kwentong Jollibee is directed by award-winning filmmaker director Pepe Diokno who shared a bit about the project: “People can expect an inspiring story about dealing with defeat, and winning with perseverance.”
As for our Olympic gold weightlifter, Hidilyn expressed her gratitude and reaction to being part of the Jollibee family and being featured in a popular and well-loved series such as Kwentong Jollibee. “Syempre I feel honored to be a part of the Jollibee family kasi nga Jollibee, Pinoy yan,” said Hidilyn. “Habang lumalaki ako, andyan na yung Jollibee tapos ngayon kasama ang buhay ko sa Kwentong Jollibee. Malaking bagay yun sa akin. Masaya ako na ang kwento ko ay makakapagbigay ng inspirasyon sa bawat Pilipino lalong-lalo na ngayong pandemya.”
Together with creative agency McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Jollibee hopes that this new Kwentong Jollibee would make a mark in the hearts of Filipinos, just as its previous works have.
“The Kwentong Jollibee films have always been about hugot feelings. It capitalizes on making the Filipinos cry, laugh, go ‘awww’ by using unexpected story narratives about romance, family, and relationships. In this new Kwentong Jollibee, we tried to capture a different kind of hugot — the feeling of pride for the accomplishment of a fellow Filipino,” said NJ Mijares, Creative Director, McCann Worldgroup Philippines.
What do you think about the Hidilyn Diaz Kwentong Jollibee feature?
Kyzia spends most of her time capturing the world around her through photos, paragraphs, and playlists. She is constantly on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and a great paperback thriller to pair with it.
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