Pinay Power: Filipinas Who Prove Sports are For Women Too

The Filipino word "lakas" can also be used to describe women. Nowadays' Filipinas just proved that they have the strength to reach their full potential and contribute to our ever-changing society.
In celebration of International Women's Month this March 2024, we listed down some of the female faces of Philippine sports today to honor their contributions. Together, let's celebrate the greatness they brought to our nation.

Hidilyn Diaz

PHOTO: Hidilyn Diaz/Facebook
Hidilyn Diaz brought smiles and tears of joy among Filipinos while the Philippines was dealing with the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19). She became our light in the middle of a long night caused by the uncertainty the pandemic created within us. This, was after the Zamboanga City native became the first-ever Filipino and Filipina to win a gold medal in the Olympics. Diaz recorded two Olympic records to top the women's weightlifting 55-kilogram event in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Before her historic lifts in 2021, Diaz was allegedly involved in an ouster plot against then-Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, receiving backlashes from her countrymen, especially from diehard Duterte supporters. Humiliated but undeterred by the accusations, the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist didn't forget what she was fighting for. She stood in the Japanese capital not only for herself but also for the nation, representing even the Filipinos who were quick to point a finger at her.
The 2018 Asian Games champion lifted a record-breaking 127 kilograms in the clean and jerk portion for a 224 kg total to shatter the previous mark. With her triumphant victory, the national anthem "Lupang Hinirang" was played in the quadrennial meet for the first time in the more than 90-year participation of the Philippines in the Olympics.

Nesthy Petecio

PHOTO: Nesthy Petecio/Facebook
If Hidilyn was the first Filipina to earn gold in Olympic history, Nesthy Petecio is the first Filipina boxer to bring home a medal. The Davao del Sur pug settled for a silver medal in a controversial unanimous decision loss to hometown bet Sena Irie.
After the heartbreaking loss, a tearful Petecio promised to never stop chasing for the Olympic gold. She vowed to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics to turn that dream into a reality. The 2019 world amateur champion's road to the City of Love turned rough in the early stages after absorbing a stinging defeat to vengeful Lin Yung Ting of Chinese Taipei, whom the Southeast Asian Games multi-medalist defeated in the Round of 16 in Tokyo 2020, in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. The Asiad serves as a continental Olympic qualifying tournament.
The early exit relegated Petecio to pass through the needle's eye of the world qualifiers. Against all odds, the 31-year-old pugilist finished within the top two of the 57 kg division in the 1st World Qualification Tournament in Busto Arsitio, Italy to punch a ticket to Paris. She put her words into action. Heartbreaks and hardwork made her stronger, as she aimed to get that elusive boxing gold for the Philippines.

Alex Eala

PHOTO: Alex Eala/Facebook
What are you doing at the age of 18? For Alex Eala, it was playing tennis. The Filipina wunderkind at a young age was already bringing pride to the Philippines. The Rafa Nadal Academy student had five professional titles (four singles and one doubles) since joining pro tournaments in 2020. She became the first junior Grand Slam Singles champion after topping the 2022 US Open. The current world no. 171 also won two doubles crowns in the 2021 French Open and 2020 Australian Open.
She didn't stop there, as Eala also donned the national colors in the Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games while bringing home medals. In the Hangzhou Asiad, she nearly reached the finals – a landmark result if Eala did it. Against China's Zheng Qinwen, the niece of former Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner Noli Eala went toe-to-toe with the 2023 US Open quarterfinalist and then-ranked 23, dragging the Chinese to a deciding third set. However, she lost steam and got beaten eventually. Despite this, she can still hold her head high, especially against a stronger foe.
Reading what Eala achieved for herself and the country only shows the immense potential within her, serving as an example for girls to dream and strive for their goals. Way to go, Alex! Keep it up!

Filipinas

PHOTO: Pilipinas WNT/Instagram
Give way to the first-ever Philippine football team to reach the FIFA World Cup – the Filipinas. Formerly known as the "Malditas", the Philippine women's national football team (PWNFT) captured the hearts of the country after competing in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.
The mere fact that the Southeast Asian nation qualified for the global showpiece is already an unbelievable feat. For a country not known for football, especially for its women's game, the Filipinas turned an unimaginable dream into a reality. They didn't make up the number in the first-ever 32-team Women's World Cup only but also brought home a landmark win to remember for the ages.
Despite exiting the competition early in the group stages, the Philippines can still hold their heads high after copping a 1-0 victory against the host New Zealand. Forward Sarina Bolden found the back of the net by smashing home her header against two Kiwi defenders, and the Filipinas kept the Football Ferns scoreless until the final whistle for the momentous moment.
The Philippines got its first goal, first win, and first three points for a World Cup debut to remember. Such a win showed the Filipinas and the nation belong on the world stage. We are excited to see more.

Blu Girls

PHOTO: Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines
The Philippine women's national softball team impressed in their tournaments in 2023. Famously known as the "Blu Girls", the nationals ensured to leave their mark on the diamond.
The Southeast Asian side soared 17 places higher in the current World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) ranking, jumping from the 31st spot to 14th worldwide. This after achieving respectable results in the 2024 Women's Softball World Cup and 19th Asian Games.
In the World Cup, they scored victories against New Zealand and that time's eighth-ranked Italy to remain in contention for a spot in the final round. They proudly exited the competition with a close 6-5 loss over the Italians in the Group C playoffs.
Come the Asiad, the Philippines nearly claimed its first medal in the continental meet, yielding to Chinese Taipei in the battle for third. It was their third consecutive fourth-place finish since the 2014 Incheon Games.
Bounce back, Blu Girls! The fight to the top isn't done yet for the squad. Believe and defy expectations!

Bianca Bustamante

PHOTO: F1 Academy/X
Racecar driver Bianca Bustamante made the Philippine sports headlines in 2023 after becoming the first female and Filipina member of the McLaren Driver Development Programme. McLaren is a British auto racing team known for producing Lewis Hamilton – a seven-time Formula One world champion. Now, they entrusted their rich winning history to the Laguna native and the Philippines' Bustamante.
Before signing for McLaren, Bustamante already made her name known worldwide by participating in the F1 Academy in February 2023 as part of Prema Racing. In May 2023, she won her first title in Valencia, Spain. Experience-wise, she also competed in the W Series, Formula 4 UAE Championship, Italian Formula 4, and USF Juniors.
Congratulations, Bianca! This is where it all begins for you! Make yourself and us proud!

Margielyn Didal

PHOTO: Getty Images
Margielyn Didal rose to fame after capturing the gold in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang, Indonesia. But it's her fun and positive vibe that caught global attention. Her attitude just showed the optimistic and indomitable spirit we Filipinos are proud to flex.
Missing a podium spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics didn't stop Didal from giving the iconic thumbs up. She even cheered for her opponents and became a photobomber in some of her competitor's photos and videos. Such moments were praised internationally.
Truly sensational, Margielyn! We hope to see you back in your best form.

Chezka Centeno

PHOTO: Predator Pro Billiard Series
Billiards was popular among Filipinos due to the success of male cue artists, including legends Efren "Bata" Reyes and Django Bustamante. But what if we tell you there is also a Filipina making a reputation for herself? She is no other than Chezka Centeno.
The 24 years old from Zamboanga City found herself in the pantheon of Filipino billiard greats after winning the 2023 World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) Women's World 10-Ball Championship, defeating China's Han Yu in the race-to-nine finale. In 2024, she added another trophy to her collection by ruling the women's division of the Predator Pro Billiards Series in February.
Centeno is nonetheless among the elites, and her rise paves the way for more female talents to play the billiard balls.

Last Modified: 2024-Jul-16 12.03 +0800