By Jeanne Michael Penaranda and Claire Morales True
TAGAYTAY CITY/ MANILA – A big bonanza of cash reward and other incentives worth millions of pesos has started to cascade to the country’s gold, silver and bronze medalists in the Tokyo Olympics.
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who won the country’s first Olympic gold medal and has pledges of over P100 million in cash, properties and other rewards , already received P10 million from the MVP Foundation of businessman Manny V. Pangilinan, a P14-million fully furnished condo unit from Megaworld’s Andrew Tan at the 47-storey One Eastwood Avenue in Eastwood City and a golden car from Ayala group of companies.
“All that Hidilyn and her family need to do is just bring their clothes and other personal effects, and they are good to stay in the unit,” said Kevin L. Tan, chief strategy officer, Megaworld, and son of the real estate magnate, before Hidilyn visited the unit.
“We are excited to welcome her and her family and loved ones to Eastwood City, particularly in this newest residential condominium tower in our first-ever township. She has brought so much pride to our country and she deserves all these rewards for her hardwork in raising our flag so high in the Tokyo Olympics,” said Kevin L. Tan.
San Miguel Corporation (SMC) president Ramon S. Ang, meanwhile, announced he will give Tokyo Olympics medalists a total of P22 million in incentives for accomplishing the Philippines’ best Olympic performance to date, in 97 years of competing in the foremost international competition.
Ang’s “personal gift” or incentive to the winning athletes, as earlier announced by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) prior to the Summer Games, will consist of P10 million for weightlifter Diaz, P5 million each for boxers Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio for winning silver medals, and P2 million for boxer Eumir Marcial’s bronze finish. A similar amount was pledged also by business tycoon Manny Pangilinan.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte congratulated the members of the Philippine boxing team for their successful campaign, giving them additional cash incentives on top of the bonuses they will receive from the government.
“It is not an everyday occurrence that we receive such an honor from our citizens of the Republic of the Philippines,” President Duterte said during the virtual courtesy call which was earlier made by Diaz who came home earlier from Tokyo.
“You went to Tokyo to fight and I, well, say that you did your best and the Filipino people appreciates it, especially bringing honor to the country. You all won in that.”
During the courtesy call, the President announced his office will grant cash incentives to the athletes in the Tokyo Olympics in addition to the incentives extended by the state under the law which is P10 million for gold medalist, P5 million for silver medalist and P2 million for bronze medalist.
President Duterte said Paalam and Petecio will both receive additional P2 million from the Office of the President. Marcial will receive an additional P1 million while Irish Magno will get P200,000.
Also, Filipino athletes who participated in the Tokyo Olympics will receive P200,000 each from the Office of the President.
The medalists will also be conferred the Order of Lapu-Lapu and all those who competed in the Games will be given Presidential citations, according to the President.
Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino, meanwhile, said additional cash benefits will be given to the four athletes who won medals for the Philippines during the Tokyo Olympics.
“With some of the savings of the POC, I’m now announcing that the bronze [medalist] will receive from the POC an additional P1 million, for the silver medalist, P2 million, for the gold [medalist], P3 million,” Tolentino said.
This means weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, the Philippines’ first ever Olympic gold medalist, will get P3 million more, silver medalists Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio of boxing will bag P2 million each, and fellow pug Eumir Marcial will collect P1 million more for winning the bronze.
The four-medal haul is the most a Philippine team has ever had in a single Olympiad even as it ended up as the top performing country in Southeast Asia this Olympics.
Tolentino said that he will also give Paalam, Petecio, and Marcial a house and lot each like how he promised Diaz.
“As a longtime partner and supporter of Philippine sports, I’m so happy for our athletes. All their hard work paid off. They’ve opened the eyes of so many Filipinos sports patrons, fans, and aspiring athletes that indeed, we Filipinos can compete and win against the best in the world in the Olympics. This is just the beginning. We have the momentum. We can only get stronger in the succeeding Olympics,” said San Miguel’s Ang said..
“I’m especially grateful to Hidilyn, whom we’ve supported for several years now, for giving honor to the country by winning our very first Olympic gold medal. We can build on these successes to develop stronger sports programs and produce more Olympic winners like Hidilyn, Carlo, Nesthy, and Eumir,” he added.
Ang also said the Olympic athletes, as well as their coaches and teams, gave the Philippines more than just medals.
“The message of this Olympic campaign for us Filipinos is clear. We are resilient in the face of challenges and we do not back down from adversity. This pandemic is perhaps one of the greatest challenges in our lifetime. Thank you Hidilyn, Carlo, Nesthy, and Eumir for giving us hope and inspiration during this critical time. You showed us that nothing is impossible,” Ang said.
Ang added that as the Olympics showcased the outstanding athletic feats that fully-trained athletes are capable of, it also serves as a reminder that people are not limited, and that Filipinos should endeavor to keep fit and healthy in the face of Covid-19 pandemic.
“Aside from following health protocols to stop the transmission of the virus and getting vaccinated, we should also do our best to make sure we are mentally and physically fit and healthy during this crisis. I believe that will help us a lot in coping with the stresses of this time,” Ang said.
Before the pandemic, SMC consistently supported the country’s participation and hosting of international competitions, including the staging of 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
In this SEA Games edition, the Philippines also completed its best performance so far in 42 years of participation with a haul of 149 gold medals, 117 silvers and 121 bronzes.
In 2005, SMC also backed the Philippine team that won the overall championship in the 2005 Southeast Asian Games with 112 golds, 85 silvers and 93 bronzes.
Ang, through SMC, is also a major supporter of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Awards. The PSA, 100-member, 56-year-old association holds the annual awarding ceremony to honor athletes, coaches, officials and organizations that made a significant impact to Philippine sports.
SMC’s subsidiary, San Miguel Brewery, Inc., is also a consistent supporter of the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC) Cebu Sports Awards, 37-year-old event that recognizes the accomplishments of Cebuano sports personalities.
SMC also owns three professional basketball teams, namely San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, and Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in the Philippine Basketball Association.