What Denden Lazaro wants to explore while on med school ‘break’
Barry Viloria on Dec 02, 2016 09:04 PM
With more time off her schedule, the Iron Eagle sets her eyes on hosting. (Photos taken from Lazaro's Instagram: @denniselazaro)
The Iron Eagle just got past a crossroad.
Shortly after her graduation from the UAAP in Season 77, Denden Lazaro broke her fans’ hearts by chasing another career: a medicine degree at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health. A year into her then new non-volleyball related plan, the two-time UAAP champ, two-time Best Receiver, and one-time Best Digger would return to indoor volleyball as an analyst. She would later find herself seated over the panel of the court early this year, covering the 91st NCAA Final Four and championship series. A little later, Lazaro sprinted back to her first love. She, of course, now plays for BaliPure Purest Water Defenders with some of her teammates back in Ateneo.
Whatever happened to med school?
“I’m currently on leave,” declares Lazaro, her round eyes we’ve become accustomed to—since the height of Ateneo and La Salle’s rivalry in women’s volleyball—looking straight to us in no nonsense. “It was really hard to be honest!”
Lazaro graduated with a Biology course from the blue school. She was on her way to becoming a doctor, a dream she’s had since high school. Her parents didn’t have to prod her of this ambition—in fact, no one else in the clan wore a white gown. She just wanted to be one, a desire that filled her until volleyball came into the picture.
Lazaro looked for the daily training sessions, a part of Coach Tai Bundit’s formula that helped the Lady Eagles snatch the championship from the Lady Spikers in 2014. It was a feat they’d repeat in the next season. The Atenean’s schedule at med school overwhelmed her, as it was in contrast to her former student-athlete routine. Lazaro’s study desk, bedroom, or the library became her little nooks as she tried focusing solely on school. Lectures and exams filled her days, “so it’s the whole day na you’re in school. So, it was really tiring talaga and physical exhaustion din.” She was lucky to have lived at a condominium nearby Ateneo Med to save time, lest she’d get stressed out from the daily traffic.
Yet, with her days turned full, Lazaro still felt something was missing. She looked hard for a breather, which as a Lady Eagle she previously found in the physicality of her sport.
“Ever since grade school, everyday may training tapos weekends I have games. So, from grade school to college, ‘yun lang ang buhay ko. And you know, one year na puro aral lang ginagawa ko, ‘pag balik ko, after school pagbalik ko sa condo ko, mag-aaral lang ako, aral-aral-aral. So, parang wala na ‘kong outlet for emotions ko sometimes.”
Missing her ‘family’
Lazaro also couldn’t help but miss the thought of having a team, girls she lived with in her entire college stay. These same girls made one big reason behind her heartbreaking goodbye in her last UAAP game, back in March 2015.
“Yung samahan ko with my friends and my team mates, ‘yun ang namiss ko. Syempre sila Alyssa (Valdez) and Kiwi (Ahomiro), Ella (de Jesus), Bea (de Leon)—they’re more than just friends to me, they’re more like a family to me. ‘Yun ang na-miss ko.”
“And I felt really lonely sa med school. It was not just mental exhaustion, it was also emotional.” It would be against the “Iron Eagle” tag, but crying became her most used way in coping with the demands of med school. “As in nag-bre-breakdown ako more often than I should be!” she recalls with a laugh.
Taking a break
After a year, Lazaro validated the initial half-heartedness behind her decision to pursue medicine. She could only ask her parents to give her a chance to go back to the volleyball, seeing some of her teammates pursuing rather a successful career post-UAAP. The decision didn’t surprise her parents, she confesses, “Na-sad but they respected and supported my decision naman.”
“This break for me would be good for me to realize some things for myself, na parang soul-searching na rin sya for me.”
“I’m very happy kasi I’m playing volleyball, I got to be with my former teammates and it’s back to my old routine. Everyday my training ako, may games. What’s nice about it is my parents can watch me pa rin and they enjoy naman also.”
The coach was still the same. The training still conducted everyday. Lazaro may be out of condition due to her hiatus, but is now seeing no trouble catching up with Bundit as her mentor again. Still, it’s not all the same, stresses Lazaro.
“It’s also moving forward,” the libero wunderkind says, adding another shot at the SEA Games is something she looks forward to again. “We really did not do well in the game that nung SEA Games (2015) na yun parang ang daming realization na I could have done better, ang daming pwedeng i-improve. Other countries na angat na angat yung laro nila. I wanna do the same.”
“Now that I’m given the opportunity to play again, sana ma-continue ko pa ‘yun to improve myself and sana maulit ulit na I can be part of the national team.”
What else is there, if not volleyball? There are photo shoots, guestings, and ambassadorship opportunities, with the help of manager Patricia Go. Lazaro says she’s also open to do more hosting and commentating, a chance she missed to do at the V-League since she was a participant.
“It’s a new thing for me, it’s a new learning for me. I get to learn from Tita Mozzy and Anton who are all veterans. Iba yung company rin nila and the knowledge they impart to me. Yung ABS-CBN family, they’re very welcoming and nurturing.”
She also has her #travelgoals. In fact, she’s got her eyes on Japan as her next vacay destination, while she also hopes to join her former seniors (now with BVR) on their exhibition games and camps out of town.
“As much as possible, I want to get to travel Philippines with BVR to bring volleyball to these places like Davao. They went to a lot of different places to teach these kids there that there’s also beach volleyball aside from indoor volleyball. Tsaka ang daming places in our country na hindi natin napupuntahan kasi we’re so wrapped up in the mentality na ang gaganda ng ibang bansa, e dito naman sa’tin ang ganda rin naman ng beaches and provinces natin so why not give it a shot and try to tell the world na we have these places here.”
“I wanna travel and enjoy my break to realize things. I’m very open to opportunities naman to learn. Stepping stone na rin siguro yung pagiging analyst and commentator ko sa volleyball.”
Over her plans on joining showbiz, it’s a solid no from Lazaro.
“Wala!” she laughs. “‘Di naman ako marunong kumanta, ‘di marunong umarte.”