The Arena, San Juan
May 22, 2016
An Open Letter to the UAAP from an Alyssa Valdez fan
First of all, I want you to know that I love your league even though I wasn’t an alumnus of any of your member schools, current and past.
But I covered you in the last 20 of your 78 seasons and saw some of the downs and many of the ups during that span. Saw a school suspended for a year for eligibility violations. Wrote both memorable championships and forgettable ones. Made some exposes about game-fixing that led to a referee being banished for life. Broke the news of a UAAP player surviving a gunshot wound in front of his school. Eulogized some of your past members who passed away. Awed by the games regardless of the sport. Cringed at the sight of some. Gained multitudes of friends and made a few enemies from here and there. Applauded some of your past decisions, booed some.
But overall, you rock.
And I congratulate you guys.
So forgive me if I tell you that we have a different opinion about the recent decision you made awarding La Salle’s Ian Lariba of table tennis, Adamson’s Queeny Sabobo of softball and Ateneo’s Jessie Khing Lacuna of swimming and Alyssa Valdez of volleyball the UAAP Athletes of the Year honor
You see ladies and gentlemen of the UAAP board, my belief is Ian Lariba should be the lone UAAP Athlete of the Year.
I mean alone.
Don’t get me wrong sirs and ma’ams of the UAAP, but I believe all four mentioned are winners in their own right.
I mean Sabobo is a Southeast Asian Games gold medal winner aside from being the most decorated softball player in the land today, not just in the UAAP, while Lacuna is a former Olympian who has raked in a whopping seven gold medals this season.
Valdez, for her part, should be given credit for elevating the sport of volleyball to what it is now–a multi-million industry. That is not counting her two UAAP titles and three MVP awards. Never mind that her Ateneo lost to La Salle this season. Admittedly, yours truly is a fan. Who isn’t? She’s the Michael Jordan of Philippine volleyball. She’s the biggest reason the sport is so widely popular right now.
They’re all champions in their own right.
Undeniably, what the three did pale in comparison with what Lariba has achieved. Or as Reuben Terrado of spin.ph put it, Lariba is “a cut above the rest.”
Aside from helping La Salle win three championships, Lariba has never lost a single game in her four years in the league. As in never. Who can do that?
She made the Olympics for crying out loud. Oympics. Not Southeast Asian Games. Not Asian Games. But the Olympics. And she made it by beating people. Not by wild cards nor by free rides. Even Manny Pacquiao, an already accomplished boxing champion, is dying to represent the country in the Olympics.
What is more impressive about Lariba’s feat was that she did it in a sport where we don’t really care about. Admit it. You think of table tennis and the first thing that comes to mind is Forrest Gump. Guilty, right? We all are. We didn’t give her nor anyone from table tennis a chance of making it big in international competitions. We see only basketball, boxing, volleyball, taekwondo, track and field, wushu, swimming as potential goldmines. Not table tennis.
But Lariba did it anyway.
She made the Olympics while some failed at it miserably. Look at our Gilas Pilipinas? We’re hoping against hope that our team defy the odds and qualify to Rio. Slim hope.
And Lariba did it anyway.
She will be in the Olympics wearing the country’s blue, red and white uniform and represent us Filipinos.
Not jus La Salle.
Not just the UAAP.
But the whole Philippines.
I know that what has been done, can never be undone. So I sincerely congratulate, Sabobo, Lacuna, Valdez and Lariba for all being achievers.
My only hope is that if another Ian Lariba comes out from the ashes somewhere in the future, you will make it right by making the right decision.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
An Alyssa Valdez fan.
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
Photo from Manila Bulletin