Tokyo Olympics medalists Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Eumir Felix Marcial will be spending Christmas this year as neighbors, along with Hidilyn Diaz.
After a Thanksgiving Mass at the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish celebrated by Cavite Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista, OFS DD, and a hearty lunch of Tagaytay City’s world-famous bulalo, the Olympic medalists on Wednesday motored to Barangay San Jose.
There, construction was ongoing for three housing units, each sitting on a 110-square meter lot, for silver medalists Petecio and Paalam and bronze medalist Marcial.
“This is a very precious gift,” said Petecio, who couldn’t hold back her emotions and thanked Tolentino with a tight hug.
It seemed that the rewards for becoming national treasures couldn’t immediately sink into Paalam and Marcial’s conscience. The two boxers displayed mini-episodes of staring blankly at their future homes, which are being built close to each other.
“These are for you, for your enormous effort, for bringing pride and honor to the country,” said Tolentino, who was accompanied in the daylong activity by Tagaytay City Mayor Dr. Agnes Tolentino.
Diaz was awed with the two-story house given to her by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, who on Wednesday gave the women’s weightlifting champion the keys to one of her multi-million rewards for winning the country’s first Olympic gold medal.
“I am very grateful to Congressman Tolentino for this wonderful and blessed gift,” said Diaz, whose parents — Eduardo and Emelita — were equally enamored with the house that sits on a 220-square meter lot with a total floor area of 168 square meters.
Immediately, Diaz pointed to the yard at the right side of the house as her future home gym.
“This is where I’ll build my home gym,” Diaz told Tolentino as she toured the house inside serene Isabel Heights in Barangay Kaybagal Central. “I’ll keep the backyard as it is — that’s where we do the laundry.”
So when will the Olympic record holder move in?
“Maybe in a month? Not sure yet,” said Diaz, who’ll be returning to Malaysia with strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo to prepare for the world championships — the only gold missing in her collection — in November in Lima, Peru.
Truly, it was a day to honor the country’s Olympic medalists in cool, breezy, and picturesque Tagaytay City.