MANILA, Philippines -- Drawing from her own experiences, Olympic champion Hidilyn Diaz is stressing the importance of financial literacy among athletes.
"Marami na po akong narinig at nakita na atleta, after ng career nila, wala na. Wala na silang pupuntahan, wala silang ipon dahil hindi sila nag-ipon at hindi nila alam kung paano mag-ipon, at inuna nila ang wants nila vs. needs," the 30-year-old Diaz recalled in a press conference Wednesday.
"Siyempre, nakakalungkot na ganoon ang nangyari sa kanila at ayokong mangyari 'yun sa akin at sa mga kasama kong atleta na susunod sa akin," she added.
"I'm hoping na matuto tayo. Matuto tayo sa mga pagkakamali natin at pagkakamali ng mga kasama natin."
Diaz is not a stranger to making financial mistakes. She admits that she has been "scammed" before, and also revealed that she did not make a profit after setting up a weightlifting gym in her hometown after the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The Filipina weightlifter made history for the Philippines in Rio when she won a silver medal, ending the country's 20-year-medal drought in the Summer Games. The prize money she received went towards a gym that was opened in August 2017.
"Wala po akong profit doon," Diaz said. "So sabi ko, noong nag-aral po ako ng business management, doon ko nasabi na oo nga, mali 'yung ginawa ko… Wala siyang kahit ROI (return on investment) or breakeven man lang, di ba? Wala talaga."
"So sabi ko mali 'yun. Mali 'yung ginawa ko. Although maganda 'yung intention ko at masaya po ako sa ginawa ko kasi nga, 'yun 'yung naging motivation ko before Olympics eh, 'yung mga bata. Sabi ko magpapatayo ako ng gym," she added.
"Kaya lang siguro mali lang 'yung ginawa ko kasi lahat binigay ko. Lahat na binili ko at hindi 'yun tama. Dapat may percentage po dapat. 'Yun 'yung dapat kong matutunan, at mag-ipon ipon din."
Diaz said she has since become smarter with her money -- a crucial development, especially after her triumph in the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year, where she became the first Filipino athlete to win a gold medal.
Incentives flooded in for Diaz, amounting to over P30 million. She also received a condominium unit and two houses. According to Diaz, she has received around 90% of the incentives promised to her.
"Thank you you po sa lahat. Sa totoo lang hindi ko 'yun inexpect, kasi nga ginagawa ko ang sport na ito dahil sa pagmamahal," she said.
A bulk of the money she received has been saved and invested, and now Diaz is partnering with BDO Unibank to raise awareness about financial education among her fellow athletes. After all, it was not only Diaz who received incentives after the Tokyo Games -- silver medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, and bronze medalist Eumir Marcial were also rewarded for their achievements.
"Para sa akin, mag-ipon tayo kasi hindi tayo forever na atleta. Swerte na lang magtagal tayo," Diaz said. "'Di ba may kasabihan na nasa huli ang pagsisisi, pero huwag tayong ganoon."
"So mas okay na ‘yung may nagsasabi na ito po 'yung right way, so ito po ang advocacy ko, na i-increase ang awareness sa financial education. Pwede tayong matuto," she added.
Aside from being wise with their money, athletes should also be wise with their time, said Diaz.
When asked about her worst investment, Diaz talked not of finances but her time commitment, saying: "Worst investment as an athlete… Siguro, to stay sa taong hindi same as your goal."
"Doon, para 'yun sa akin, worst investment as an athlete kasi nasayang ang oras mo," she explained. "Hindi ka matagal sa pagiging atleta, hindi ka diyan pag-50 years old, so huwag mo sayangin ang oras mo sa taong hindi naniniwala sa'yo. Surround yourself with the people na tutulong sa 'yo."