Lydia de Vega honored and remembered by Philippines' leaders, fellow athletes

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·4 min read
BULACAN, PHILIPPINES - NOVEMBER 30: Filipino icon Lydia de Vega waves at the crowd whilst serving as a flagbearer at the Opening ceremony of the Southeast Asian Games at the Philippines Arena on November 30, 2019 in Bulacan, Philippines. She died on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 due to breast cancer. (Photo by Gary Tyson/Getty Images for SEA Games)
BULACAN, PHILIPPINES - NOVEMBER 30: Filipino icon Lydia de Vega waves at the crowd whilst serving as a flagbearer at the Opening ceremony of the Southeast Asian Games at the Philippines Arena on November 30, 2019 in Bulacan, Philippines. She died on Wednesday, August 10, 2022 due to breast cancer. (Photo by Gary Tyson/Getty Images for SEA Games)

Several personalities have expressed their messages of condolences for the death of track and field legend Lydia de Vega, who was once known as the fastest woman in Asia.

De Vega succumbed to breast cancer on Wednesday (Aug. 10). She was 57 years old.

Nation’s leaders pay tribute

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., in a Facebook post, mourned the death of de Vega, saying that the sprint legend “fought a good fight.”

“I join the entire nation in mourning the untimely demise of former Asian sprint queen Lydia de Vega, after a four-year battle with breast cancer. My sincerest condolences to her family and loved ones,” Marcos Jr. said.

“Lydia de Vega has run her last race. She has finished her contest. She has fought a good fight. Let us pray for her peace,” he added.

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said in a statement on Thursday morning that de Vega’s death is a big loss for the country.

“Lydia ‘Diay’ de Vega-Mercado’s demise is a big loss to us … she put Philippine sports on the world map and brought much honor to our country,” she said.

“She will long be remembered by tha nation,” Arroyo added.

In separate statements, Senators Robin Padilla, Lito Lapid, Nancy Binay, and Sonny Angara honored de Vega’s memory, and the honor that she brought to the country.

Dahil sa kanya, naging kahanga-hanga ang Pilipinas sa ating karatig-bansa,” Padilla said.

(Thanks to her, the Philippines gained respect from our neighboring countries.)

Pero higit pa rito, atin siyang dapat pasalamatan sa inspirasyong ibinigay niya sa atin, hindi lamang bilang atleta at bilang Pilipino,” the neophyte senator added.

(But above all this, we should thank her for the inspiration that she gave us, not just as an athlete but also as a Filipino.)

Nakakalungkot na ginupo ng sakit si Lydia pero kahit kailan, hindi mabubura ang iniwan nyang alaala ng galing at husay ng pagiging isang atletang Pilipino,” said Lapid.

(It’s sad that Lydia succumbed to her illness, but the memory of excellence and greatness as a Filipino athlete is forever etched in us.)

Maraming salamat sa lahat ng ibinigay mong karangalan sa bansa,” Binay said.

(Thank you for the honor that you gave our country.)

“[Rest in peace,] Lydia De vega. Once Asia’s fastest woman,” Angara said.

Meanwhile, House Speaker and Leyte first district Rep. Martin Romualdez said that Filipino athletes who have long been retired should be supported still.

“Her death highlights the need for our government and the private sector to support Filipino athletes not only while they are healthy and physically able to compete but in retirement as well,” Romualdez said.

Fellow athletes honor de Vega’s memory

Bowling legend Paeng Nepomuceno, in a Facebook post, said that de Vega’s death is a sad day for Philippine sports.

“May God’s eternal light shine upon you. Condolences and prayers to the family,” Nepomuceno said.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino, on the other hand, thanked de Vega for inspiring many generations of Filipino athletes.

“Another sad day for PH sports, although we have lost a great icon however she made an imprint to the hearts and minds of all the people she inspired. Her story will always be a success, story to all athletes that Filipinos are capable of being in the pedestal specially to those who dream and pursue it,” Tolentino said in a Facebook post.

Maraming salamat Lydia de Vega sa binigay mong karangalan sa bansa. Hindi ka namin malilimutan (Thank you very much Lydia de Vega for the honor you have our country. We will never forget you),” Tolentino added.

Far Eastern University, de Vega’s alma mater, also saluted her. “A beloved and highly-respected figure especially in the Track and Field circle, her legacy will remain an inspiration to all FEU athletes onwards,” FEU said in a post.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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