Bea de Leon’s teen fan got her dream birthday gift
ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 03, 2017 04:30 PM
A treasured photograph for Biel Mallari (extreme left) and Shaine Manarang with their most favorite volleyball player in the whole world, Bea de Leon.
‘I could die now,” proclaimed 13-year-old Biel Mallari in Filipino after seeing and being photographed with her idol, Ateneo Lady Blue Eagle Bea de Leon, on opening day Saturday of the first Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
As an advance birthday gift from her fireman-dad, Biel, accompanied by her mom, traveled all the way from Santiago City, Isabela, the day before to watch de Leon in person as the Lady Blue Eagles launched their campaign in the season-ending tournament of the PVL. She’s turning a year older on Sept. 6.
Mother and daughter boarded a Cubao, Quezon City-bound bus from Santiago at 9 p.m. on Friday, arrived in Cubao before 5 a.m. the next day, and were at the PVL playing venue before 6 o’clock when hardly a soul could be seen yet around the arena. It was more than 12 hours before the Ateneo-Jose Rizal University match actually began at 6:30 in the evening!
Not a few minutes later upon reaching the San Juan Arena, they were joined by another de Leon diehard, Shaine Manarang, 19, of Mabalacat City, Pampanga, who’s presently doing an OJT with Asian College of Aeronautics in Metro Manila.
All three didn’t mind waiting till the ticket booth opened at 9. They wanted to be first in line to secure ringside tickets no less.
Biel and Shaine almost fainted when this writer, sensing a story, approached them a few minutes after 8, telling them a meet-up and a selfie with de Leon could be arranged.
After the same writer volunteered and bought the tickets for them at the Sports Vision office inside the arena, the two younger ones trembled when their fingers closed around the tickets. They left the venue together at once, Biel and Shaine’s sisterhood bound now by their hero-worship of de Leon.
They returned to the arena at lunchtime just when the first match of the day, the De La Salle Green Spikers and the College of St. Benilde Blazers in the men’s division, was winding up. Biel and Shaine were each clutching in one hand a brand-new white Ateneo T-shirt carrying de Leon’s name.
It turned out that the three had been to Ateneo de Manila University on Katipunan to buy the prized Lady Blue Eagle tees.
Not only did they get to face de Leon up close and personal, thanks to Lady Blue Eagles team manager Tony Boy Liao, they got photographed as well with her by the Sports Vision official photographer, Nante Azores, while Biel’s mom was doing her own photo op using the two girls’ phone cameras.
De Leon completed their joy when she autographed the two girls’ newly-bought Ateneo tees.
“I just knew it in my heart that something big would come out of this trip to Manila for my daughter,” cried Lovely Jane, the mom. “In her great admiration for Bea, my daughter is always telling us she’d be willing to serve her in every way for free.”
And the best was yet to come from their idol for Biel and Shaine.
De Leon was extra sharp that evening, pumping in 14 points to top all scorers and leaving Biel hoarse from cheering.
Biel and her mom promptly disappeared after the match which saw the Katipunan women give the JRU Lady Bombers a 25-17, 25-15, 25-15 drubbing, to catch their bus back to Santiago City.