Just a year ago, Hidilyn Diaz was on the wrong end of bashers and trolls on social media after speaking publicly to ask for financial help in her bid to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics.
“Hirap na hirap na ako, I need financial support. Sa tingin niyo okay lang kaya, nahihiya kasi ako pero try ko kapalan ang mukha ko para sa minimithi kong pangarap para sa ating bansana maiuwi ang gold medal sa Olympics,” Diaz’s statement read.
Though she received several financial grants afterward, the post took its toll on the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist as she encountered several hate comments from people online.
“Sa totoo lang, okay ‘yun na sinasabi, ‘yung kung ano ang kailangan naming mga atleta. Pero kasi naging biktima din ako, naging biktima ako ng bashing at pagtro-troll and hindi naging maganda ito sa akin,” shared Diaz in Tiebreaker Vods’ So She Did, presented by SMART.
Not wanting her fellow athletes to suffer the same fate she did back in 2019, Diaz — the first Filipino weightlifter to win a gold medal in the Asian Games — sent out a warning to her brothers and sisters in the sporting realm.
Diaz wants athletes to make sure that they are mentally prepared to handle the backlash before deciding to speak out.
“Ayaw kong mangyari ‘yun sa ibang atleta so as much as possible, puwede natin i-share ‘yung opinyon natin pero huwag na lang sa social media,” said the 29-year-old member of the POC Athletes Commission.
“Siyempre kailangan natin protektahan ang sarili natin. Kami as national athletes, yes may boses tayo, pero kailangan natin i-filter. I-filter kung ano ‘yung kailangan nating sabihin kasi siyempre kailangan nating protektahan ‘yung family namin, kasi pati ‘yung family ko affected eh.”
But as long as they have a good grip on the issue at hand and they know how to shield their respective families from the hate, Diaz urges athletes to push through with whatever they’re fighting for.
“Sinasabi nila na ganito, ganoon. Kung kaya nilang protektahan ‘yung family nila at kung alam nila kung ano ‘yung ipinaglalaban nila, alam nila ‘yung lahat… Nabasa nila at kung alam nila kung paano ipaglaban ito, push. Ipush nila, gawin nila,” lamented Diaz, who is currently at Selangor, Malaysia.
“Pero ‘yun nga, kailangan may puso talaga kung gusto mo ipaglaban, lalong-lalo na sa political issue. Sa ibang atleta, alam naman natin na ako na ‘yung first sample doon, so kung hindi niyo kayang gawin, hindi niyo kaya ‘yung consequences, huwag muna.”
Several athletes such as Kobe Paras, Thirdy Ravena, and Jack Animam all took their stand against the controversial Anti-Terror bill in their respective social media platforms, which sparked debates all over the internet if whether athletes should meddle into political issues or not.