FOR the young readers, there is need for a short introduction. Lydia de Vega notched various records during her prime as a track and field champion. She won the gold medal in the 100 meters at the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in 1987, 1991 and 1993.
Then she clinched the top place in the 200 meter event in 1981, 1983, 1987 and 1993. She has twice won both the 100 and 200 meter golds in the Asian Athletics Championships - 1983 and 1987.
De Vega-Mercado was a two-time Olympian, having represented the Philippines in the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics. She was Asia's fastest woman in her time.
All these sports records are now golden memories in the minds of the public and the champion athlete. At present, De Vega is fighting for dear life in the hospital, suffering from breast cancer and needing assistance for her medical expenses.
It is just timely that the leadership of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) has just been completed under the Marcos administration. Appointed chairman is Junie Cua while General Manager is Mel Robles, and they lost no time in extending help to Lydia.
Cua and Robles personally gave the check worth P500,000 to the athlete's daughter Stephanie Mercado de Koenigswarter in a ceremony at the agency's main office in Mandaluyong City last week.
De Vega-Mercado is currently confined at the Makati Medical Center and is in critical condition due to Stage 4 breast cancer.
The athlete's daughter thanked the PCSO for its support to their family, as they face what she called their "biggest race" so far. She also appealed for prayers and continued support for her mother.
Lydia also has supporters among other athletes of today's generation. Pole vault champion Ernest John “EJ” Obiena pledged to donate the P250,000 incentive he would be receiving from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to De Vega.
Obiena won a medal and broke his own Asian record in pole vault with a 5.94-meter leap at the World Athletics Championships held in the US state of Oregon on July 24.
GM Robles called on the public, especially those who can afford to help, to share their blessings with Lydia.
“We are giving but definitely it’s a far cry from what they need. We’re also appealing to others to join us in helping the family. It is a fact, siya yung kayamanan ng ating bayan (she is a treasure of our nation). It may not be enough, bigay namin ay maliit rin lang kumbaga sa kailangan nila pero baka sakali pag nagsama-sama, tulong tulong mas matulungan natin sila," said Robles.
In her prime, Lydia gave her all for the honor and reputation of the nation in the field where she belongs. It is just right to help her in this time of need.