Hidilyn Diaz will be awarded one of the highest honors in the land, the Presidential Medal of Merit.
President Rodrigo Duterte made the announcement on Wednesday during a virtual courtesy call.
The Presidential Order of Merit is awarded to individuals “for gaining prestige for the country in an international event, in the fields of literature, the sciences, the arts, entertainment, and other civilian fields of endeavor that foster national pride and artistic excellence.”
“As expected, the nation is ecstatic about your achievement. Your achievement is the achievement of the Filipino nation,” said Duterte.
“We are extremely proud. We cannot express even into words of how we should really be shouting ‘hallelujah.’”
Diaz is the fourth athlete to receive the award after bowling’s Paeng Nepomuceno (1984) and boxing’s Flash Elorde (1984) and Manny Pacquiao (2003).
Besides the award, Duterte will also give P3-million to Diaz “out of his own pocket.”
This raises the windfall of cash incentives Diaz will receive to P43.5-million.
As parting words, Duterte told the 30-year-old Zamboanguena to forget the years of disappointment she experienced as it led her to Olympic glory.
Diaz’s buildup to the 2020 Games saw her seek for funding herself so that she can train at an optimum level while also being tagged as a “destabilizer” in a baseless matrix.
“Salamat naman sa pagtiis mo. I hope that the years of toil, the years of disappointment, and the years na hindi maganda ang nangyari in the past, just forget them,” Duterte said.
“You already have the gold. Gold is gold and it would be good for you to let bygones be bygones and dwell solely on your victory together with your family and, of course, with the nation.”
Diaz will receive the Presidential Medal of Merit, the Philippine Sports Commission’s Medal of Valor, and the incentives from the government and Duterte when she visits Malacanang Palace.