Fatherhood becomes this powerful Jet Spiker

ABS-CBN Sports on Jul 14, 2017 11:37 PM
Fatherhood becomes this powerful Jet Spiker
With the arrival of his firstborn, Jhayr Labrador of the Philippine Air Force Jet Spikers is playing more inspired volleyball these days. (Photo by Eileen Kathryn Araza)

On the day utility/middle spiker Rodolfo ‘Jhayr’ Labrador of Boac, Marinduque, turned 26 last March 17, his first child, a boy, was born.

He and partner Luchie Antonio Lozano of Angeles City, Pampanga, celebrated in the hospital his birthday and the arrival into the world of their bundle of joy.

Nearly three months later Prince John was christened in style in the city where his mother grew up.

Standing side by side as godparents are some of the who’s who in Angeles City’s business circle courtesy of the child’s affable mom, a successful restaurateur and broker herself, and his dad’s fellow Philippine Air Force Jet Spikers – Jeffrey Malabanan, Nino Jeruz, Pitrus de Ocampo and Rey Dimaculangan – the wife of coach Rhovyl Verayo and assistant coach Dante Alinsunurin.

Flown in from Boac to attend the baptism and be part of the grand reception that followed, where food and drinks literally overflowed, were Labrador’s parents and siblings. Guests from Manila, mostly Air Force players, their wives or partners and their children, stayed overnight, billeted in the Mimosa Resort villas. A few even extended their stay for another day!

Jhayr Labrador and Luchie Lozano have committed to give nothing but the best to their adorable baby.

Now nearly four months old, Prince John has his first-time dad eating at his palm, if he doesn’t know it yet. To say that Labrador is crazy over his firstborn is an understatement.

From his work inside Villamor Air Base as airman second class or training or games elsewhere in Manila, Labrador, alternately driving the family Ford Ranger, BMW or FJ Cruiser, will rush back home in Angeles City to be with his son.

“As much as possible,” says the powerful spiker in Filipino, “I want to be with my son. I want to be there when he says his first word, when he first stands up on his own, when he takes his first step. Or simply when he coos, gurgles, or smiles. It’s a whole new ballgame when you became a father.”

Like his mom, Prince John, according to the proud dad, has given him more direction and inspiration in life.

Simply said, fatherhood becomes the native of Marinduque and former Far Eastern University Tamaraw.

Every morning when he wakes up, he says he thanks the Creator for the gifts that are his son and his mom, whose sunny disposition, he adds, has rubbed off on him and whose influence has made him a better person.

Mother and child provide him with twin reasons to play more inspired volleyball these days, which he’s doing in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference, another collaboration between Sports Vision as organizer, Asics as official league partner, and Mikasa as official game ball.

Sparingly used in the PVL Reinforced Conference won by Cignal over Air Force because he was a bit overweight then, he worked hard to shed off a good five or six kilos for the Open Conference. He has since regained his starting position on the Jet Spikers.

From scoring a measly four points in their three-set win over newcomer Gamboa Coffee Mix in their first outing, Labrador went on to tally 11 markers as the Jet Spikers outlasted Sta. Elena in an extended game, then racked up 12 in a losing, five-set effort against the wonderful Army Troopers.

“I want Air Force to win the Open Conference so that it would be part of the champion trophies and special awards I’d show to my son when he’s old enough to understand. Of course, it goes without saying that Prince John is my most prized trophy.”

Labrador played a pivotal role when FEU captured the UAAP title in his fifth and final playing year in the UAAP. He was a key part as well in at least three title romps of the Air Force in its mother league, the ferociously-fought AFP-PNP-PN Olympics over which coach Verayo and his Jet Spikers have taken a dynastic reign.

Verayo speaks highly of Labrador.

“As a player Lab is highly-disciplined; he does not miss practice even if he drives home to Pampanga daily. As a person, magaling siyang makisama.”

Setter Pitrus de Ocampo, himself a new father, has this to say of his best friend: “Lab was happy-go-lucky during our FEU days. He liked night gimmicks and was never one to lose control of himself even if he was inebriated. If he is very responsible now and he is, he only has to thank Mareng Luchie for that.”

Luchie Antonio Lozano, by the way, sits as the Jet Spikers’ team manager.

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