MANILA - "Gusto kong sabihin na kung ano ang atin, atin."
(I just want to say that what is ours, is ours.)
This is what Philippines' first Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz said on Thursday when asked about her sentiments on the disputed West Philippine Sea, after a picture of her wearing a gray t-shirt with its Chinese translation made rounds on social media.
Diaz, who is a member of the Philippine Air Force, pointed out that it is what she knows by heart, even if she does not want to meddle on international affairs.
She said the West Philippine Sea shirt was given to her.
"Gusto kong sabihin na atin 'yun eh. Pero hindi ko puwedeng pakialaaman kung ano ang international dispute diyan between how many countries, pero siyempre gusto kong sabihin, sa atin yun," Diaz said in a forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP).
(I just want to say that it is ours, but I don't want to meddle with the international disputed there between countries. But I would still like to say that it is ours)
"Sa ordinary people na wala masyadong alam about sa [nine-dash] line, and sa international dispute or international political thing, gusto ko lang sabihin sa kanila, na ito ang alam ko: na sa atin ang West Philippine Sea," she added.
(To the ordinary people out there who have little knowledge about the so-called line and the international dispute or international politics, I would like to tell you that this is what I know: the West Philippine Sea is ours)
Diaz wrote history on Monday when she ended the 97-year gold medal drought of the Philippines at the Olympic Games, after winning over China's athlete Liao Qiuyun.
West PH Sea dispute
The West Philippine Sea is the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the South China Sea, where Brunei, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia also have overlapping claims.
A UN-backed ruling junked China's overwhelming claims in the South China Sea through its "nine-dash" line in 2016, but the Asian powerhouse continued to shun the ruling, and instead ramped up island building and militarization there.
Video courtesy of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines
Earlier, Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas chief Monico Puentevella admitted that one of the things he used to motivate the athlete was the issue on the resource-rich waterways, and how many times China defeated her during her bouts.
Although he knew that the Chinese lifter would be the person to beat in the women’s 55kg category, Puentevella went beyond sports to push Diaz.
“Atin talaga ’to. Hindi sa China ito. Ang West Philippine Sea atin talaga, kaya kinuha talaga ni Hidilyn kahapon. Kahapon sabi ko talaga, ‘Talunin mo ’yang Tsina na ’yan. Talunin mo,’” he said in an interview on TeleRadyo.
(This is ours. It is not China's. The West Philippine Sea is ours that's why Hidilyn got the gold. I told her that she should defeat China)
Diaz beat China during the 55kg women's weightlifting division at the Olympics.
- with reports from Karl Cedrick Basco, ABS-CBN News