By Jeanne Michael Penaranda
Yes, Maria Clara, Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz is in love.
And she readily said “yes” when her Filipino American coach-boyfriend from Guam Julius Naranjo proposed to her at the Sheraton Hotel in Resorts World Manila on October 15.
Hidilyn, 30, who is enjoying her over P50 million cash, houses, cars and other bonanza after becoming the country’s firs Olympics gold medalist, confirmed the engagement in her Instagram posts where she brought out her new GOLD — a ring with a weightlifting motif given by her Julius. The ring was done by Manila Diamond Studio.
Hidilyn on her IG post posted the caption: “It’s YES!” to Julius, 30, whose full name is Julius Irvin Hikaru T. Naranjo, a half-Filipino, half-Japanese Guamanian weightlifter, coach, and filmmaker who competed for Guam in the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. Hidilyn and Julius first met in that games in 2017.
Despite their engagement, Hidilyn and Julius are both leaving the country to go back to a training facility in Malaysia and gear up for the IWF World Championship on Dec. 7 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
“It was a magical moment with @imjulius. I’m grateful to God that He sent Julius into my life, he makes my life easy, alam ng iba kung ano mga sinasakripisyo niya para maabot namin ang pangarap na Ginto sa Olympics,” she wrote.
“Together with #TeamHD, nun laro kinilig at masaya ako kasi siya mismo nagsabi, God is the center of our relationship, kaya walang duda magye-yes ako dahil swerte ako may isang Julius na nagmamahal, nag-intindi at sumuporta sa akin,” she said.
“Thank you sa lahat ng kasabwat ni Julius, magaling po kayo, naging meaningful ang gabi dahil sa inyo,” she added.
Prior to the proposal proper, a despedida dinner was held at the most-visited Bubble in Sheraton which started at 6:30 p.m.
It was a happy and special dinner for the three couples which led to the proposal of Julius to Hidilyn,
Hidilyn and Julius were joined by their respective sister and brother on #TeamNOEL – Marco Alcaraz and Precious Lara Quigaman, and Iza Calzado and husband Booky Boss, Ben Wintle.
According to friends, Coach Julius has always jokingly knelt before Hidilyn but there was no engagement ring yet since it was always a prank. This time, it is serious and different.
This led to comic Joross Gamboa saying, “OK lang i-prank ang proposal, pero huwag niyo naman sanang i-prank ang wedding, ha. Seryosohin niyo yun.”
The room was filled with laughter with trainer-fitness coach Culver Padilla present, who vowed to support Hidilyn and Julius in the opening of her Home Gym Metrowalk soon.
Also in the company were some of the friends of the couple Haidie and Julius, with popular designer Francis Libiran, Arsi Baltazar and Nat Manilag who would be responsible for their wedding to be held next year.
Now that Hidilyn has achieved the product of her consistent training — the Olympic gold medal, she wants to achieve this time, the equivalent gold price — peace of mind and enough time for her family and the family she and Julius will raise. Both of them are in the right age to build their family.
But the question is, what about her plan to compete in Paris in 2024?
In a virtual presscon of Kuwentong Jolibee: GINTO recently, she said she still wants to train more for her next competition.
“Tuluy-tuloy pa rin ang training ko. Plano ko, maglalaro ako sa world championship. “Then next year maglalaro sa SEA Games kung matutuloy, then after that titingnan kung paano yung qualifier for Paris 2024.
“Kung kaya at makita yung qualifying na nandun yung bodyweight ko, then tuluy-tuloy po for Paris 2024,” Hidilyn said.
For now, what is important is herself and her happiness with Julius. Let’s just wait for the announcement of their wedding.
It was heard that they want a solemn wedding ceremony and they might have a destination wedding. They are planning to do it in a resort in Baguio which is owned by a friend.
There will only be a Manila reception party for Hidilyn and just like what happened to Ryan Agoncillo and Judy Ann Santos and Chiz Escudero and Heart Evangelista.
They assured their followers they will not leave sports. Recently, they met with the UP officials and apart from the recognition bestowed upon them, they talked to the President and to the Dean of College of Human Kinetics to teach special subject like weightlifting when the school resumes face-to-face classes by school year 2022-23.
Hidilyn also wants Julius to sing on their wedding. She revealed Julius has beautiful original compositions and as prodded by friends, he sang a part of the song “A Thousand Years.”