NUís Jaja Santiago and her #tallproblems

Barry Viloria on Jan 31, 2016 05:58 PM
NUís Jaja Santiago and her #tallproblems
ďMinsan naman po, wala naman sa height mo yun, eh. Nasa pakikisama na rin yun sa tao." (Photos taken from Santiago's Instagram account: @alyjasantiago3)

While almost everyone dreams to be statuesquely tall like any popular basketball or volleyball athlete (or, fine, supermodel) you can name at the drop of the hat, here’s NU Lady Bulldogs star player Jaja Santiago feeling insecure about her, yes, towering height.

Wait, what? We back up in disbelief.

“Actually, nalula po ako,” she recites, her courteousness in conversation is overt. “Ang height ko po is 6’5”. Ang sabi nga ng iba 6’6 daw po ako kasi 6’5” ang height ko.”

True, the Santiagos have always had it in their genes. Jaja’s older sister Dindin, who also played for NU and has since gone on to suit up in the PSL, stands at 6’3”. Their dad is 6’6”-tall and their mom is slightly, well, shorter at 5’10”.

“Dun po sa side po ng father and mother ko, as in matatangkad po talaga sila,” she adds, then laughs. “Ako yung bunso sa pamilya, pero ako ang pinakamatangkad.”


Why so clingy mom 😹👻

A photo posted by alyja daphne santiago (@alyjasantiago3) on

Long before getting serious in volleyball, Santiago has always thought of her monstrous height as a part of a confidence demolition project. She remembers being the normal “maliit at payat” back in most of her elementary days. She then wanted to blame puberty come high school, when at 5’7” she swiftly grew in length to 6’1”. She was just turning 13 that time—and then it seemed that the girl didn’t let a year pass without growing at least an inch taller.

Ironically, what then caused the long-legged lass to feel small? It was that she looked different from many of her friends, and that she literally looked over them. She also mentions that in many times, strangers she gets to meet the first time usually can’t help but judge her. Or, at least, get intimidated from her visible loftiness.

“Pag nakikita ko yung mga ibang tao, sinasabi ko sa sarili ako, ‘Ano ba yan, ang laki ko!’ Parang nahihiya rin ako,” Santiago confesses. “Kasi po sobra yung tinitignan ka po ng mga tao.”

It’s more so the case when the two sisters are out together.

“Pag magkasabay po kami, maraming tumitingin sa ‘min. Ang mangyayari, sasabihin niya na sa ibang lugar muna ako maglakad o mauna nalang ako habang naglalakad kami. Nahihiya po kami masyado sa tangkad nga po namin.”


Nice outfit, Nice Bagsss... #kambal #twintowers #nikebagpack #nikeslingbag #dress #passion haha.

A photo posted by alyja daphne santiago (@alyjasantiago3) on

It was only when volleyball came into the picture that Santiago began seeing the bright side to her once-point of insecurity. Then a freshman in UST with no prior experience in any sport, she got into volleyball. NU recruited her when she got to her sophomore year, and it was there that her confidence started picking up for the better.

“Sinasabi ng friends ko na yung height ko daw ay nakakainggit kasi konti lang ang may ganitong height sa Philippines, and then yun nga maganda rin na may height ka lalo na for modeling,” she says. “Nung naglaro ako ng volleyball, ginamit ko yung height ko. Naisip ko na advantage yung matangkad so wala dapat akong ikahiya kahit asarin kang malaki ka.”

Besides, her height has landed what other normal people wouldn’t have breezily achieved.

“Tsaka dahil sa height ko at sa sport ko, napapanuod na din ako sa TV,” she laughs.

Clearly, volleyball aided in Santiago’s metamorphosis—from playing for NU up to now that she’s on her third year in college. Her 39.13% success rate in her spiking ability brought her the Best Spiker award in the last UAAP season. She was then named Finals MVP at the Shakey's V-League Open Conference, playing for PLDT Home Ultera that flew to become champs. Perhaps, her best moment of victory is at the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Collegiate Conference, where NU defeated Ateneo in the finals towards the title. She was also part of the national team in the SEA Games in Singapore last year. Because of all these, Santiago has grown to be one of those student-athletes who get to be the face of top brands and get superstar sums for it.

“Minsan naman po, wala naman sa height mo yun, eh,” she says on her newfound perspective. “Nasa pakikisama na rin yun sa tao. Pag matangkad naman, hindi mo naman maiiwasan na maging awkward at yung pagtitinginan ka ng tao. Pero kailangan mo lang talaga ng confidence sa sarili mo—na ‘Matangkad ako pero marami din ako advantage, ganun.”

“Tapos, wag kang ma-feel na down kung may mga pants or shoes ka na hindi mo masuot kasi mahaba ka. Kung maliit ka man, okey lang naman po as long nadadala mo naman yung sarili mo.”


🏋🏻💪🏻 #UAAPMagazine

A photo posted by alyja daphne santiago (@alyjasantiago3) on

With her young volleyball career, Santiago, who boasts of champion attitude and gameplay, is easily one of the most looked up to idols in the UAAP today. She’s also one who can speak about fitness—of course, her toned frame didn’t work itself out; she undergoes twice-a-day training (especially with the new season) and keeps a balanced diet, too!

Seemingly, Santiago’s problems about her height have since found themselves off the window. #Shoppingproblems for a tall girl? They’ve long been addressed as well.

“Yung pants ko, sa H&M kasi American size po sila dun. Yung shoes ko naman, sa Payless lang.”


just dance and feel the beat 💃🏼👯

A photo posted by alyja daphne santiago (@alyjasantiago3) on


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