Magbibitbit ka ng bansa, literally and figuratively --- Valdez on flag-bearer duty

Mark Escarlote on Jun 04, 2015 03:41 PM
Valdez to carry the nation
Hindi ko talaga alam ano ang ie-expect ko pero sobrang honored ako at the same time s’yempre it’s really nakakakaba na nahahawakan mo ‘yung flag in front of everyone na --- Valdez

SINGAPORE --- All eyes will be set on Philippine volleyball sweetheart Alyssa Valdez as she leads the country’s finest athletes in the traditional parade of nations in the 28th Southeast Asian Games’ opening ceremony Friday night that the organizers promised to be colorful, memorable and extravagant.

But Valdez admits she is clueless on how to conduct her role as a flag-bearer.

Yes, she and the rest of the national volleyball team prepared well for the competition. During games, the Ateneo de Manila star was always poised and composed.

However, Valdez said that the mere thought of holding the tri-color banner and marching in front of the Philippiine delegation watched by a crowd of mixed nationalities inside the 55,000-capacity National Stadium here gives her goosebumps and makes her heart skip a beat.

“Hindi ko talaga alam ano ang ie-expect ko pero sobrang honored ako at the same time s’yempre it’s really nakakakaba na nahahawakan mo ‘yung flag in front of everyone na,” she said.

“Siyempre ‘yung flag naman ang titingnan nila. Pero syempre flag ‘yun ng Pilipinas kailangan mong dalhin yun na may honor,” Valdez added during her conversation with a handful of sports scribes a few days before the national squad left for Singapore Thursday.

Not really, as the popularity of Valdez and the rest of the volleyball team is also getting attention even from reporters coming from other participating countries.

Filipino reporters here were asked about the squad, with some of foreign media saying “we heard your volleyball team are all pretty.”

Valdez joined the elite circle of sports icons like Manny Pacquiao, Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski, Efren "Bata" Reyes and Paeng Nepomuceno in the list of the country's flag-bearers in major international competitions.

“Magbibitbit ka ng bansa, literally and figuratively,” said the 21-year-old Valdez. “Sobrang nakaka-speechless na ikaw ang napili na magdala ng flag, makakahanay mo ‘yung mga, hindi lang sila names eh, hindi mo lang sila ia-idolize as a player but really as an individual and as a whole person di ba? So definitely it’s really an honor to be part of that list eh.”

I have no idea!

Valdez, who is in her second straight national team stint after leading the U-23 squad into a seventh place finish in the Asian tournament held in Manila a month ago, said that she never practiced how to hold the flag especially marching with it.

“Hindi ko alam baka may guidelines naman siguro ‘yun (pag carry ng flag),” she said, telling reporters that she hasn’t even seen a SEA Games opening ceremony before.

Even in her elementary and high school days, marching in front of a parade was never her thing.

“Hindi nga ako pang-majorette. Lagi lang ako sa lyre tumutugtog ako ng mga ganoon. Hindi talaga ako ‘yung nagmamaganda. Nakahawak lang ako ng flag noong fellowship night, (sa U-23) ‘yung normal na flag. Sa school naman may flag pole,” Valdez continued.

“Hindi ko rin alam kung ano ang ie-expect ko sa pagiging flag bearer,” she added. “After long years na hindi sumsali rin talaga ang volleyball sa SEA Games sila pa ‘yung mabibigyan ng opportunity na makahawak ng flag. So we’re really happy na sana ito na ‘yung start for Philippine volleyball internationally and locally.”

Valdez is the second non-medalist to become a flag-bearer since Pacquiao led the PHI delegation 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“Eto nga ang nakakatawa, naglolokohan sila na ako daw ang second na hindi medalist. Sabi ko sino ‘yung first? Excited pa ako kasi at least hindi lang ako ‘yung hindi medalist,” she said.

But Valdez was shocked when she learned who’s first.

“Hindi nga siya naka-gold, sabi ko “Oh My God! ano ba ang napatunayan ko?” Bakit ako ang ina-ano nila? Walang pressure no? Tawanan na lang natin to. Isipin ko na lang dala ko ‘yung flag ng Philippines,” Valdez said with a giggle.

But with the whole team, no, the whole Filipino nation behind her there is no reason for Valdez to feel nervous.

“I’m really happy ‘yung mga teammates ko naman super supportive nila. Inaasar na lang nila ako para mawala ‘yung masyadong serious note na (pag-carry ng) flag, ng Philippine flag,” she said. “Siguro they’re really trying to tell me na relax lang Alyssa it’s a big event pero they’re really trying to calm me down. Sana ipag-pray ako ng mga tao sa pagdala ng flag.”

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