By hook or by crook, Dolores National High School was not missing the 2019 NBTC Chooks-to-Go League National Finals presented by SM.
The boys from Eastern Samar have become the darlings of the national tournament for high school after they packed inside one van, rode from Dolores to Allen Port in Northern Samar, boarded the RORO, set sail for Matnog Port in Sorsogon, got off there and then rode upward to Manila.
Come the games themselves, the first-timers in the tournament dropped both of their games and were eliminated in the Round of 32 for Division 2.
Still, they're coming home with a worthy consolation prize after being treated to dinner and getting to spend time with basketball stars Kiefer Ravena and Baser Amer as well as volleyball icon Alyssa Valdez.
That was just the cherry on top of the cake that was the most unforgettable week in their lives. "Yun po talaga yung araw na 'di ko makakalimutan. Nakasama ko po mga idol ko na sina Kiefer, Alyssa, tsaka po Baser," Ronnie Golondrina said.
Apparently, on that night itself, Dolores NHS went through a roller-coaster of emotions that still ended with them on a high. "Grabe po yung nag-iintay kami dyan sa Mang Inasal, akala po namin, hindi na tuloy tapos bibigyan na lang kami ng pera. Gutom na kami nun," Golondrina shared.
He then continued, "Pero 'di nagtagal, dumating sila at grabe yung saya namin. Yung mga idol na nakikita lang namin sa TV, nakita na namin sa personal tapos nakasama pa naming kumain."
Right then and there, though, Ravena, Amer, and Valdez didn't get to see that the boys from Eastern Samar were overjoyed.
That was because their coaches told them to be on their best behavior. As regional commissioner Wilmar Candido put it, "Yung mga bata, hindi lang maingay because of our discipline kasi kung hahayaan namin, baka nagtatalunan na sila, nagkakagulo na sila. We talked before na pag dumating sila, even though we're from the province, itago muna natin yung sobrang saya natin."
He then continued, "Pero sa totoo lang, naiiyak na nga ang mga bata."
In the end, the provincial team is nothing but thankful for all the blessings they have received - after traveling by sea and land for 24 hours just to get to play in its first-ever NBTC Nationals. "Sa kabila ng maraming trials before we got here, ngayon, mahal na mahal pala talaga kami ni Lord. Taus-pusong pasasalamat sa mga nagbigay ng kagandahang-puso sa amin," Candido said.
Now, they will be returning to Eastern Samar with their hearts full and their hopes brighter than ever. "Very inspiring and encouraging lahat ng nangyari sa mga batang ito. When we go back, we will bring this experience na sina Kiefer, Baser, at Alyssa, naging parte na ng buhay namin," their regional commissioner said.
He then continued, "Imagine, superstars sila pero hindi kami nakalimutan. May mga tao pa palang ganoon. Talagang si Lord, hindi kami pinapabayaan."
For the players themselves, the fact that they're here in the NBTC Nationals against all odds and even got to share a moment with their idols is more than enough inspiration to keep doing what they're doing. "May message po sa amin si Kiefer Ravena na 'di raw po dapat namin i-stop pangarap naming makalaro sa PBA kasi yung sarili raw nila, nakikita nila sa amin. Si Alyssa raw po, galing din sa mahirap na pamilya tulad namin, pero nagsikap," Golondrina recalled.
He then continued, "Kahit nagsimula kami sa mahirap na pamilya, mahirap na probinsya, kaya po naming maka-compete. Sabi nga po ni Kiefer, don't stop dreaming."
Meanwhile, two days after their dinner with Ravena, Amer, and Valdez, Dolores NHS received even more blessings as Freego handed out gift packs for each and every one of them.
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