This past Monday, Philippine Olympic history was made. For the first time since the country began participating in the international multi-sport athletic event in 1928, a Filipino Olympian managed to bag a Gold Medal. This stunning achievement by weight-lifter and four-time Olympic participant Hidilyn Diaz was cited as having buoyed spirits during the ongoing pandemic and inspired her fellow athletes at Tokyo to push just a bit further. Diaz has already returned to the Philippines since Wednesday afternoon, having received a hero’s welcome and a promotion in the Air Force where she serves, with more incentives coming. Now, Congress will have its accolade as well. reports that next to award a commendation to Hidilyn Diaz for being the first Philippine Gold Medalist at the Olympics is the House of Representatives. Furthermore, it will be a new award outside of the existing two types of Congressional Medals that the House is empowered to give out. It is called the Congressional Medal of Excellence, the fruit of two House Resolutions filed by a group of legislators led by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and both the House Majority and Minority leaders. House Resolution No. 1981 institutionalizes the Medal of Excellence while HR 2041 would give the first such medal to Diaz.

The text of HR 1981, which was formulated by Speaker Velasco, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Minority Leader Joseph Paduano, Isabela Rep. Faustino Dy III and Zamboanga City Rep. Manuel Dalipe, states the need for a specific Congressional Media that the House of Representatives can award to athletes who win Gold in the Olympic Games, describing them as modern national heroes. HR 2041, granting the first Medal of Excellence to Hidilyn, states that her “fighting heart and indomitable spirit” gave honor and pride to all Filipinos at home and overseas, welcome news in the face of the pandemic and economic troubles.

It is the latest in acts of recognition being feted to Hidilyn Diaz, who is already assured of P35.5 million in cash incentive and private sector donors, plus a new house and lot in her native Zamboanga City, P3 million more from President Rodrigo Duterte, a Presidential Medal of Merit (her being only the fourth recipient after Flash Elorde, Manny Pacquiao and Paeng Nepomuceno), and a promotion to Airwoman Staff Sergeant in the Philippine Air Force (PAF), among many perks.

Before the newly-institutionalized Congressional Medal of Excellence, the House of Representatives only gives out the Congressional Medals of Distinction (business, science, arts/culture and sports achievers in general) as well as Achievement (lifetime work commendation for politics, economy and cultural leaders).

Image from PTV News