Villanueva: First recipients of Senate Medal of Excellence shone light during pandemic
Senator Joel Villanueva extolled the first recipients of the Philippine Senate Medal of Excellence awards as heroes who shone light on the country in a time of pandemic gloom—Olympians Hidilyn Diaz, Nesthy Petecio, Eumir Marcial and Carlo Paalam.
Villanueva hailed the Filipino Olympians for “their solid performances in the Tokyo Olympics embodied the firm aspiration of every Filipino—to knock down challenges and lift the Philippines to a greater height of honor and prestige.”
“Ang tagumpay ng ating mga atleta ay ‘di rin nalalayo sa paniniwala natin noon pa man sa TESDA: Kapag sapat at de-kalidad ang training, malayo ang mararating ng Pilipino. At kapag ang isang Pilipino ay nagsumikap nang husto, kaya niyang manalo, at abot-kamay ang masayang pagbabago,” said Villanueva, former TESDA director general who’s known for his efforts in making the skills of Filipinos at par with the world.
“I am starstruck, not only as a former athlete representing the Philippines, but as a Filipino, I am starstruck to be here with our heroes,” said Villanueva, who once suited up for the national basketball team.
“Theirs is the story of the Filipino strength and courage. They are the heroes that made the light shine through the darkness of the pandemic,” he said.
Paying tribute to the awardees, Villanueva said Diaz made history as the first ever Filipino to win a gold medal in the Olympics. Diaz brought home the gold after winning in the 55 kg weightlifting category in the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics last July 26.
“She rewrote Olympic history,” Villanueva said of Diaz.
“Ang tagumpay ng ating mga atleta ay ‘di rin nalalayo sa paniniwala natin noon pa man sa TESDA: Kapag sapat at de-kalidad ang training, malayo ang mararating ng Pilipino. At kapag ang isang Pilipino ay nagsumikap nang husto, kaya niyang manalo, at abot-kamay ang masayang pagbabago.”
Villanueva also paid tribute to Petecio, who became the first Filipino woman to win an Olympic boxing medal when she won silver at the women’s featherweight finals last Aug. 3.
Also cited by Villanueva was Marcial, who won the boxing bronze medal in the middleweight division last Aug. 5 in the Tokyo Olympics.
Paalam, who had risen from scavenging to being a top boxer, was also cited by Villanueva. Paalam won a silver medal in the flyweight division.
“Hindi po ba’t tuwing sumusuntok sina Nesthy, Eumir at Carlo, nagngangalit din ang mga ugat natin sa braso, kasabay ng pagkuyom ng ating mga kamao na tila baga gusto na rin nating sumabak sa laban,” Villanueva said.
“Ganyan daw po ang mga tunay na bayani, nakahahawa ang kanilang determinasyon!” the senator said.
“Kaya’t natatangi at makasaysayan ang araw na ito dahil ang mga kauna-unahang Pilipinong pararangalan ng Philippine Senate Medal of Excellence ay mga kabataang atleta,” he said.
“These athletes have the heart of a warrior—strong and unwavering,” Villanueva said of the four Olympians and first recipients of the Philippine Senate Medal of Excellence.
“As the first set of awardees of the prestigious Senate Medal of Excellence, Hidilyn, Nesthy, Eumir and Carlo etched their marks not only in Philippine History, but more so in the hearts of 110 million Filipinos,” Villanueva added.