Nathalie Tomada – The Philippine Star

October 18, 2021 | 12:00am

Hidilyn Diaz initially thought it was a prank. But the country’s weightlifting golden girl got engaged on Friday night after long-time boyfriend and coach, Julius Naranjo, went down on bended knee and proposed with a golden ring.

On Saturday, the sports couple, both 30 years old, shared the “magical” and “meaningful” moment, which took place at Resorts World Manila, on their respective social media accounts.

“It’s YES!” Hidilyn captioned her post that showed her wearing her gold medal from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the golden ring featuring a barbell design.

“I’m grateful to God that He sent Julius into my life. He makes my life easy, alam ng iba kung ano mga sinasakripisyo niya para maabot namin ang pangarap na ginto sa Olympics together with #TeamHD,” wrote the first Filipino Olympic gold medalist.

“Kinilig at masaya ako kasi siya mismo nagsabi God is the center of our relationship, kaya walang duda magye-YES ako dahil swerte ako may isang Julius nagmamahal, nagintindi at sumoporta sakin.”

Julius, on the other hand, posted a photo of his fiancee proudly flaunting her engagement ring. “There’s a first for everything,” he wrote.

The future husband and wife, who first met at an international weightlifting competition in 2017, have been together for three years now.

In a video shared with The STAR by Hidilyn’s manager Noel Ferrer, Julius told the story behind the custom-made, barbell-inspired ring he designed with the help of Manila Diamond Studio.

“I told them to make it gold because she won gold,” Julius said. “This is a barbell and the engraved ‘Tokyo 2020’ inside the ring.”

According to Noel, Julius has long planned the proposal. “Actually, matagal na. Before the Olympics pa ang plano. It was just a matter of timing really.”

The newly-engaged couple are looking at a destination wedding in Baguio City in 2022 with a reception party to be held in Metro Manila. “Si MVP (PLDT-Smart big boss Manny V. Pangilinan) nagsabi na, siya in charge ng honeymoon package,” disclosed Noel.

Fashion designer Francis Libiran with business manager Arsi Baltazar also attended the intimate engagement party to have preliminary talks on the wedding motif. “Gift nila daw yan ng major,” Noel said.

Their respective parents in Zamboanga (Hidilyn’s) and Guam (Julius’) couldn’t make it to the special occasion due to the pandemic situation.

“But they’re aware,” Noel told The STAR. “At nagpaalam si Julius sa mga magulang ni Haidie (Hidilyn’s nickname) sa Zamboanga bago nag-propose kaya may blessing na rin sya ng mga future in-laws.”

The affair was witnessed by some of the couple’s celebrity friends, including Iza Calzado, Joross Gamboa, Precious Lara Quigaman and Marco Alcaraz, among others.

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