Women in sports are becoming a force to reckon with—on and off the battlefield.
The brains behind some of the prolific National Sports Associations are wonder women like Jonie Go of dragonboat, Princes Kiram of pencak silat, Pearl Managuelod of muay thai and Karen Tanchanko sepak takraw.
The Philippine Sports Commission is ably run by chairman Butch Ramirez alongside the solid lady workforce like commissioner Celia Kiram and executive director, lawyer Sannah Frivaldo.
In the sporting arena, male dominance has become a thing of the past.
Biggest proofs are Meggie Ochoa, Annie Ramirez and Hidilyn Diaz, who have been dishing out superb performances in the global scene to provide glory and honor for the country in male-dominated disciplines.
Much has been said about their exploits in the battlefield already.
Ochoa and Ramirez’s golden performances in jiu-jitsu provided the much-need luster for the Philippine campaign in the recent Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games in Turkmenistan.
Diaz’s weightlifting silver medal finish against world class opponents in the same competition was enough reason for her to look forward to another medal finish in the Asian Games and in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
And behind those solid performances is a common burning desire to serve others.
PROTECTION OF WOMEN
Behind her petite body and soft personality, Ramirez possesses a solid commitment to empowering other women, who were victims of violence.
“Nais ko pong tumulong by way of my personal advocacy to start a program for victims of sexual exploitation and violence. Dinala ako siguro ni God sa jiu-jitsu to use it as may platform to help other women. I will use jiu-jitsu not just for therapy but also use it to teach them (women) how to protect themselves.”
Ochoa’s consciousness was awakened when she read an article three years ago, about children and women victimized by sexual violence.
“Since then, it has become a personal burden for me. Hindi ko na makayanan ang hirap na dinadaanan ng mga kababaihan.”
This personal mission has become a motivation for Ochoa to keep on winning tournaments, to help finance her organization.“Hindi ko naman po gustong yumaman, hindi naman lahat ng makakapagpasaya sa tao are material things.”
JIU JITSU FOR KIDS
For Ramirez, jiu-jitsu is a perfect fit for her following a quick transition from judo. Judo may be her first, but jiu-jitsu is her true love.
The Bicolana superwoman has no immediate plans yet except to continue training. But she has been longing to do something for kids.
Best way to start, according to her, is to do a charity mission for children every year until such time that it becomes a regular event on a monthly basis.
“Start muna siguro ako once a year lang. Maturuan ang mga bata ng tamang disiplina and jiu jitsu bilang self-defense.”
It’s still on the drawing board though, for now, “I want to grow more and help muna ang teammates ko to achieve more also,” added Ramirez who credited her team and mentor, judo icon John Baylon, for his current achievements.
“Hindi naman ako gagaling kung wala ang mga buong team, my sparmates, my coach at lahat-lahat.”
Outside sports, Ramirez plans to put up a food business. “I love food kaya yan ang iniisip kong business venture. Mas marami tayong matutulungan kung mayron din tayong funds na sarili siyempre.”
Already an accomplished athlete in weightlifting, Diaz is hungry for more. It’s no longer for her own personal accolade though. She wants to equip her newly built weightlifting center her hometown in Zamboanga City.
After winning a silver medal Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2016, Diaz relished a much-needed rest from competition, savoring the victory and a new life as a sports celebrity.
The hardest part, according to her, was to go back to her old, solid form.
“Mahirap nung bumalik ako after Rio. That was the biggest challenge. Sakripisyo uli sa oras, sa pagkain. Akala ko tapos na at kumpleto na after Rio, hindi pa pala.”
She came back with aplomb and just recently, she took the silver in AIMAG in Turkmenistan. “May hunger pa pala. Kaya tuloy-tuloy na uli ito hanggang makaraming uli sa Olympics (2020 in Japan),” added the Zamboanga lass, who admitted that most of her million-peso incentives from the PSC went to the putting up of her weightlifting center.
“Para sa mga bata, kapitbahay, kamag anak na gustong matuto. Welcome sila lahat to train there,” she said.
The center accepts donations from other fitness enthusiasts who want to train under in-house coaches. “We also accept donations and fees to sustain the operation and help ung mga bata na gusto matuto pero walang pambayad.”
Diaz is juggling her time between her training and being a student at the College of St. Benilde. “Doble hirap dahil from full-time athlete, ngayon nag aaral pa ako.” But no complaint, says Diaz.
Her keys to success are no secrets after all. Just don’t fail to plan.
“Yung iba nag set ng goal pero kulang sa preparasyon. Ung iba wala talagang preparasyon. Dapat talaga mindset mo is prepared ka nang manalo. Kelangan embrace mo yung ginagawa mo at gusto kong manalo.” With reports from Clarisse Ramirez