VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur -- It's baffling to learn that Hidilyn Diaz, one of the finest homegrown Filipino athletes in recent memory, has never won a medal in the Palarong Pambansa.
That's because she never really participated in any edition of the games.
"I never played in Palarong Pambansa," Diaz bared in a chat with a handful of reporters hours before the 2018 Palarong Pambansa unfurled.
As it turns out, there has been no weightlifting event in the annual conclave among regions since the late 1980s when Olympians like Ramon Solis were still playing, according to veteran sports scribe Ramil Cruz of Abante.
Cruz, who has been covering the multi-sports spectacle since 1988, said there were some controversies that prompted the Department of Education (DepEd) to drop weightlifting from the pool of sports.
That's why the silver medalist of the 2016 Rio Olympics keeps showing up at the Palarong Pambansa, hoping her presence - as well as her feats - will make the organizers reconsider including the sport she loves into the event.
Right now, there are 21 regular sports, three demos, and four special games.
"There's no weightlifting event in Palaro that's why I'm going here, hoping they consider including weightlifting again," the amiable Diaz said.
Cruz said there were initial talks between the Department of Education and Philippine Weightlifting Association a few years ago about reincorporating the weightlifting. Efforts, though, have proven to be futile.
But if both parties do find the middle ground and decide to reincorporate the sport anew after nearly three decades, it will do the country a favor.
Diaz said it will help the Philippines produce more weightlifters that will reap medals in international tilts like the Olympics.
"I've proven that Filipino weightlifters can win a medal in the Olympics," she said.
"With the help of the local government units (LGU) there's a chance weightlifting will be reintroduced again in Palarong Pambansa. Athletes can't do it alone because they need the support of the LGUs, the schools, and DepEd."