PVL: Mom’s presence during games energizes Villegas

ABS-CBN Sports on Jun 20, 2018 07:22 PM
PVL:  Mom’s presence during games energizes Villegas
Coach Odjie Mamon (center) parades six newcomers on his PLDT lineup for the second season of the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference. Among them are (L-R) open spiker Joshua Umandal from the University of Santo Tomas and setter Ronchette Lee Villegas, a prized acquisition from Far Eastern University. (Photo by Eileen Araza)

If setter Ronchette Lee Villegas’ games in Metro Manila fall on weekends, nothing, not even hell or high water, could stop her mom from travelling for at least four hours from Mariveles, Bataan, just to watch him play live.     

On June 9, when driving rain submerged many roads all over Luzon in water to herald the onset of the wet season, Ronchette made frantic calls to his mom to ask her to call off her plans to watch him play for PLDT Home Fibr against Instituto Estetico Manila at the start of the PVL quarterfinals at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.  

“But by then James, the youngest of my children, and I were already leaving Bataan in a bus,” said Mrs. Relia Villegas, a registered psychiatric nurse. “Besides, the roads we were taking were still passable so we continued the trip to Manila.”  

Mother and son left Bataan at 5:30 a.m. and reached the San Juan arena five hours later in time for the start of the second set of the PLDT-IEM skirmish.  

Ronchette didn’t disappoint.        

Playing for one hour and 53 minutes without relief, he accounted for 61 of the 62 excellent sets credited to the Ultra Fast Hitters and chipped in two points as the five-foot-10 setter helped power PLDT Home Fibr past the Phoenix Volley Masters in four sets, 25-20, 27-25, 23-25, 25-20. 

He was not surprised when he spotted his mother and brother among the crowd.

“They were in the bus out of Bataan already when I phoned to ask her to scrap their plans of watching my game in San Juan,” he said.

At the time the roof of the arena was being pelted by great sheets of rain.    

Her mom’s presence during his games, said Ronchette, inspires him to do better.

“She’s my inspiration, my source of extra energy. She commutes from Mariveles to where I may be playing in Manila. The trip is tiring so I make sure I give my best in every game, as she has always advised us her five children to exert our best effort in everything we do.”

Orphaned by his dad, who himself was a varsity basketball athlete in high school and college, when he was in Grade V, Ronchette knew full-well the extent of sacrifices his mother had to make to raise him and his four siblings and send each and every one to school. That, he said, made him more attached to her.  

“I finished my studies (sports recreation management) and did my best as a setter for FEU in the UAAP to make her proud of me. I always strive to excel in whatever I do to let her know that the effort, time and money she had invested in me as a single parent were not wasted.”

In Ronchette's fifth and final playing year in last season’s UAAP, Mrs. Villegas, who usually attends his son’s games on weekends only, filed for a long leave of absence to be able to watch her son live even on weekdays.

She disclosed she had to leave Mariveles as early as 2:00 p.m. so she would arrive on time for her son’s 8:00 a.m. games!

Indeed, the mother's dedication proved to the ultimate inspiration for the son.

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