[COLUMN] Golden girl Hidilyn Diaz gets engaged

Tokyo 2020 Olympics weightlifting champion and gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz shows off her medal and the engagement ring given to her by longtime boyfriend/coach Julius Naranjo. | Photo from Instagram/@hidilyndiaz

THE Philippines’ first-ever Olympics gold medal winner Hidilyn Diaz is now engaged to her longtime boyfriend and coach, Julius Naranjo.

On Friday, October 15, Naranjo proposed to the weightlifting Olympic champion on bended knee at Resorts World Manila, according to an article in the Philippine Star. A day later, they shared the moment in their respective social media accounts.

In the same article, Naranjo shared the story behind the custom-made, barbell-inspired ring he designed with the assistance of Manila Diamond Studio.

“I told them to make it gold because she won gold. This is a barbell and the engraved ‘Tokyo 2020’ inside the ring,” Naranjo was quoted as saying.

According to Diaz’s manager, Noel Ferrer, Naranjo had planned the proposal even before the recent Tokyo Olympics, where Diaz fulfilled the country’s long-awaited dream of having an Olympics champion. He added that the couple are looking at a destination wedding in Baguio, and with a reception party held in Metro Manila.

Already, some of the couple’s supporters have reportedly planned to lavish the couple with gifts – PLDT/Smart boss Manny Pangilinan was said to have volunteered to be in charge of the honeymoon package, while fashion designer Francis Libiran with business manager Arsi Baltazar attended the engagement party to have preliminary talks on the wedding motif.

Other celebrity friends of the couple who attended the intimate party included Iza Calzado, Joross Gamboa, Precious Lara Quigaman and Marco Alcaraz. (Initially, Diaz was told that there was a birthday dinner coupled with a despedida party for them before they leave for Malaysia.)

Although both Diaz’s and Naranjo’s parents were unable to attend the engagement party due to the pandemic, Ferrer disclosed that Julius had already secured Hidilyn’s parent’s for her hand in marriage.

“They’re aware. Julius asked permission from the parents of Haidie in Zamboanga before he proposed, so he has the blessing of his future in-laws,” Ferrer said.

In her Instagram account, Diaz showed off her medal and the engagement ring, sharing her happiness with her social media followers.

“It’s YES!  It was a magical moment with @imjulius. I’m grateful to God that He sent Julius into my life, he make my life easy [smiling face emoji], alam ng iba kung ano mga sinasakripisyo niya para maabot namin ang pangarap na Ginto sa Olympics together with #TeamHD, nun laro kinilig at masaya ako kasi siya mismo nagsabi God is the center of our relationship, kaya walang duda magYeYES ako dahil swerte ako may isang Julius nagmamahal, nagintindi , at sumoporta sakin,” Diaz shared.

“Thank you sa lahat ng kasabwat ni Julius, magaling po kayo naging meaningful ang gabi dahil sa inyo,” she added.

* * *

Alden Richards recently revealed that one of his dream projects would be to work with Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd Cruz in a project.
Photo from Instagram/@aldenrichards02

Alden Richards disclosed that he is raring to do a project with Bea Alonzo and John Lloyd Cruz. After all, he is a fan of the Bea-John Lloyd tandem.

In an article in Inquirer.net, Richards could not contain his excitement at the prospect of being cast together with Alonzo and Cruz, if that happens.

“To be given an opportunity to work with them… aba po, let’s go!” Richards was quoted as saying.

Mas game pa po sa game … even if we have to quarantine the very next day, I will go!” he added.

Richards recalled when he met the two stars a few years ago that left him starstruck.

“A few years ago, there was a Christmas party wherein we had the same styling team. We met each other there. And for the first time in my whole life as an actor, I became a fanboy because I really idolize those two,” he related.

And he will get the chance to fulfill his dream of working with Bea Alonzo via the local adaptation of the Korean film “A Moment to Remember.”

According to Richards, the project to be directed by Nuel Naval and produced by GMA Pictures and Via Films is pushing through.

“The [work] schedules aren’t set yet and there are still details being finalized. But one thing is clear — tuloy siya,” the actor stated.

Aside from his dream project with Bea and John Lloyd, Richards would like to expand his horizon by working with new Kapuso artists.

“Doing ‘Hello, Love, Goodbye’ really opened me to the possibility of working with different artists. There are a lot of potential leading ladies. There are many new good artists here, both veterans and newbies. I’m looking forward to that… I’m not choosy. Those collaborations will help me discover new things about them and about myself. It’s just about the right timing,” he said.

Having wrapped up shooting for the second season “The World Between Us,” Richards said he wants to take on more mature roles (or grey roles), similar to the character he portrays (Louie) in the series.

“I’m becoming more experimental when it comes to projects and learning toward acting pieces and new experiences. I want to go edgier and veer away from the usual good boy roles. I want to take risks so I don’t end up boring audiences or making them go, ‘Nakita ko na ’yan,’” he said. “Now is the time for that because I’m turning 30 next January; I’m not getting any younger.”

He also disclosed that he hopes to do films worthy of submission to international film festivals, saying, “We all dream of going abroad. Being a Filipino is something to be proud of. I want to show how good and how proud we are of our craft.”

One thing that Richards really wants to accomplish is to earn his college diploma. He revealed that he would like to major in business economics and his interests lie in the stock market, cryptocurrency and other topics related to the economy. However, he has to find the time to do this.

“There are a couple of universities I’m looking at. But it’s just about time management. I have just finished shooting a soap and I still have a lot of commitments I have to accomplish. I have to find a window,” the Kapuso actor noted, while adding that it is his father’s dream for him to earn a diploma.

Having renewed his contract with GMA7, Richards said that although things have changed for him, he is still the same Alden.

“Just with better clothes!” he stated jokingly, but added, “People who genuinely care for me always remind me to stay true to myself. But it’s OK to change if it’s for your improvement as a person and actor. I want to be a better inspiration to others.”

And though success has found him, Richards started from the bottom and scraped his way to the top. He also endured a lot of criticism and experienced negativity from other people.

“Nothing comes easy … I went through lows, gapang kung gapang. But that only made my success more rewarding. Because you know you worked hard for it. Hurtful things will be thrown your and your family’s way, but you will have to deal with them. You have to be really patient. Success may not happen in five years or eight, but your time will eventually come,” he said.

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