The country is toasting its first Olympic silver medal in 20 years (the last was from boxer Mansueto "Onyok" Velaso in 1996), all thanks to the herculean effort put in by weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz at the ongoing Rio 2016 Olympics.
Third time was indeed the charm for Hidilyn, who previously competed in Beijing (2008) and London (2012) without success, which makes this victory extra special. It also marked the first time a Filipina brought home Olympic hardware in official competition.
Judging from her unbridled reaction in the video below, it's safe to say that second place is no less than mission accomplished for Hidilyn.
Despite finishing as runner-up to gold medalist Hsu Shu-Ching of Chinese Taipei, the way the former took in her win more than illustrates the joy of just being able to take part in the major international sporting event again.
But before Hidilyn even got to step onto the podium, FHM had the chance to talk to her for a story in the magazine's September 2011 issue, barely a year before she participated at the 2012 Summer Games in London.
The feature was on real-life superhumans, and Hidilyn's latest feat is clear proof the she is such among extraordinary beings:
In 2004, 13-year-old Hidilyn Diaz was thrust into the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) as a developmental athlete. Initially only gunning for an athletic scholarship, she was surprised that she was getting better at the sport, which prompted her to take what she was doing seriously.
"Halos bugbog katawan naming mga weightlifter," Hidilyn shared of her daily hell. "Every day nagbubuhat ng barbell, we train six days a week for power, technique and muscle-building. May kasama pang jogging sa umaga."
Hidilyn on FHM's September 2011 issue
(Photo by At Maculangan)
All that hard work wasn't for naught, though, as the 4'11", 117-pound woman went on to hold the Philippine record for both the snatch and clean (90kgs/198lbs) and jerk (120kg/264lbs) events. Think another woman of her size who can simultaenously lift weights as heavy as two bushels or kaban of rice... We thought so.
Not only did she improved vastly on her craft, but Hidilyn also developed mental fortitude through intense training: "Kakaiba ang skills ko kasi it is a fight of nerves and a battle of strength. Sarili mo kalaban mo dito: how you believe in yourself, how you execute with the barbell and how you lift the weights.
When asked what sets her apart from the average person, Hidilyn confidently replied, "My body can recover fast enough to enable me na magbuhat ng barbell every day. If an average person tries such thing, I'm sure kinabukasan mahirapan sila gumising sa sakit ng katawan o baka lagnatin pa."
As skilled as she is as a record weightlifter, having the right attitude also plays a big part to her success. "I have deeper patience, perseverance and a little luck and blessings from God kaya hanggang ngayon andito pa ko at sumisikap na maging malakas lalo," Hidilyn explained.
With that kind of work ethic and mindset, no wonder she was able to reach this far. Mabuhay ka, Hidilyn!
Interview by BA Borleo, Enrico Subido