Solaire Hotel and Casino
June 17, 2013
Ode to the Twelve Brave Souls
On this one rainy night, amid the non-stop downpour and heavy, widespread flooding that inundated some parts of Metro Manila, the national women’s team, or the V-Belles to their sponsors Smart and Shakeys or Twelve Brave Souls to most of us, came flying back to Manila after a sleepless, Amazing Race-style 16-hour travel from Quang Tri, Vietnam. They arrived quietly, without much fanfare and ceremony some time at 2 p.m.
Unmindful of the fatigue brought on by the non-stop travel, the group, which is managed by Tony Liao and coached by Roger Gorayeb and his lieutenants Edjet Mabbayad and Ariel dela Cruz, traveled for another hour from Terminal Two to this brand new hotel facing the magnificent, breathtaking view of the Manila Bay and just a stone-throw away from the Mall of Asia where they waited and rested a bit for a few more.
By 6 p.m., Liao, who was responsible for texting the blow-by-blow updates of the team’s games in Vietnam where they competed in the just concluded Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Southeastern Zonal Women’s Qualification Tournament, which served as a qualifier to the 2013 Volleyball World Championships in Italy, treated the squad to a hearty dinner at Fresh where a buffet of almost every delicacy you can imagine is served. From sashimis, makis, salads, kimchis as appetizers to lobsters, crabs, prawns, oysters, steaks, salads, salmons, tunas, dimsums for the main course to fruits, cakes, pastries, ice creams of various flavors for desserts. Its there for the taking for the whole team and some lucky brave souls from media like Yahoo! Philippines’ Noel Zarate and his photographer George Calvelo, Reuben Terrado of spin.ph, Kristel Satumbaga-Villar of Manila Bulletin and yours truly, this simple Philippine STAR senior reporter and Sportsmaryosep blogger.
After all, it was well-deserved for a team that has just represented the country well despite finishing third in a four-team tournament and in spite of being formed just less than a week before the meet even started.
There, Liao, the coaches and the players shared their experiences, including their highs and lows. We lost to an experienced Vietnam side, a team formed eight years ahead of us, won over a taller Myanmar, and lost to Indonesia in what could have been a won game if not for what Liao called a “She-Man.” We’re not going to go deep on what that word even means and not make an excuse out of it, but man, that…person played like a man, hit like a man in dealing our girls the straight sets loss that was closer than what it suggested. So we lost to the Indonesians and finished third in a four-team meet.
Unknown to them, the team was already disbanded even before they arrived as Phl Sports Commissioner chairman Richie Garcia made the grim announcement at lunchtime. Garcia was the Harbinger of bad news to a team that deserves another run, or a LONGER run if you ask me. Why disband a team that showed a lot, and I mean a LOT, of promise? Why dissolve a team that has a strong potential to snare a bronze medal in this December’s Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar and perhaps more in future years?
You see, this team is not only promising but the TALLEST formed by a country by ours EVER. I mean, we don’t just have tall players standing 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-4 but we have TALENTED players standing 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-4.
And Gorayeb says it best: “The team shouldn’t be disbanded because this is one of the tallest and most talented teams ever formed.” Gorayeb, who has won all of the titles possible as a coach, adds the team should be trained like the original, Rajko Toroman-mentored basketball team named Smart Gilas Pilipinas, which trained college players years before their targeted tournament. He is right.
But lo and behold, our sports leaders, who decided to play god, cut the team’s umbilical cord of existence. And just like that, the team is not a team anymore.
And though only a few fans bothered to welcome our team at the tarmac, Sportsmaryosep will not be stopped from thanking and giving a salute to our Twelve Brave Souls. After all, it may take a long time to see these girls play side by side again. So here it is.
THANK YOU Alyssa Valdez.
THANK YOU Jaja Santiago.
THANK YOU Dindin Santiago.
THANK YOU Rubie de Leon.
THANK YOU Jen Reyes.
THANK YOU Suzanne Roces.
THANK YOU Maika Ortiz.
THANK YOU Iari Yongco.
THANK YOU Pau Soriano.
THANK YOU Rhea Dimaculangan.
THANK YOU Myla Pablo.
THANK YOU Jeck Dionela.
THANK YOU Coaches Roger, Edjet and Ariel.
THANK YOU Tony Liao.
You are all HEROES.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar