What really happened at the Archers’ shoot with UAAP Magazine

Barry Viloria on Dec 20, 2016 08:26 PM
What really happened at the Archers’ shoot with UAAP Mag
On what went behind the scenes by the issue's editor-in-chief. (Photos by Vyn Radovan)

For the first time ever, in seven years, we at UAAP Magazine put an ensemble of athletes comprising entirely student-athletes from the same school: The DLSU Green Archers. We previously tried to keep our cover subjects as varied and representative of the rest of the schools as possible, in honor of the eight members of the biggest collegiate sports league in the country. In our Strength Special released in 2015, for example, each school had its basketball/volleyball hotshot on the cover.

Our theme this year is called “Star Athletes Issue.” Ask anyone working in a magazine, and he’d tell you finding someone to grace the cover is the most challenging task of all. The criteria for a perfect cover subject: Aesthetics, influence, personality, relevance to the time, relevance to the issue’s theme. Finding a cover for this year’s theme proved more to be a challenge. With favorites Alyssa Valdez, Mika Reyes, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer, and the rest gone, who among UAAP’s present gen would best represent the “star athlete” best? This, we asked ourselves repeatedly.

Finding a cover subject goes through a long process, including gaining the approval of the bosses who strive to take care of the UAAP brand as well. On our women’s volleyball cover, we already had best bets Season 78 Finals MVP Kianna Dy, finalist Bea de Leon, and Rookie of the Year Isa Molde. No contest on this, since these girls easily ticked everything off in the criteria.

As for the men’s basketball cover, one of our higher-ups pitched the La Salle Green Archers in the middle of the season. Why not—by then, they were already pegged as the season’s runaway winners? The 13-1 record in the eliminations contributed to this. They each had impressive stats, endorsements, huge offline and online following—stars in their own right, they are. We were convinced.

The next challenge came, which was booking the five star athletes to represent Taft: Finals MVP Jeron Teng, MVP Ben Mbala, veterans Thomas Torres and Kib Montalbo, and rookie Ricci Rivero. It took more than a month to get a schedule, since Coach Aldin Ayo long put his foot down on his kids—no one was allowed to do non-basketball-related stuff during the season. It finally took some talking out courtesy of DLSU courtside reporter Bea Escudero and our staff photographer Vyn Radovan (also a Lasallian)—we finally had a schedule!

The shoot was set around 7:30 on a Friday night, at an empty room inside the Brother Andrew Gonzalez Hall. (The building is now feared for a recent bad news!) It happened on the third week of November and right after a training sesh. Coming off from a loss to Ateneo that smeared their sweep, the boys did more shooting only to arrive later than scheduled. Once they got there, we fed them with pizza. And then we did their makeup. The mood was relaxed all throughout. A little chitchat happened here and there over greasy food that wouldn’t even make them the least fat. Ben’s bodyguards even joined in the feast and conversation. I even accompanied a parched Jeron to get some water from a fountain inside the building—he was acting scared, for obvious reasons!

The Archers were finally ready to step onto our makeshift studio around 10. We expected the shoot to end around midnight since we started late. We did group shots first before the individual shots, and it went on until 10:40 when a man in white long-sleeves entered the room. On one of his palm, a radiophone.

“Bawal na po!” he told us, before telling his fellow security personnel on the phone that we weren’t done yet.

A commotion happened—we still had a few shots to go. Desperate and stressed out, I couldn’t help but argue with the security officer first, “Sa ABS-CBN po kami! Di nyo po alam gaano kaimportante ‘to!” (A shocked Thomas was standing next to me, as I raised my voice in stress!) The officer told us had to pack up since our permit should have only lasted the shoot until 9 p.m.

I thought of a strategy—why not pretend that the rest is packing up while the photography team (composed of lensman Rxandy Capinpin and creative director Louis Manuel) went on with the shoot? Everyone cleared the place while we sneakily took the last remaining shots.

“Fifteen minutes!” I told the security officer, who was standing firm and keeping an eye on us.

We finally finished around 11, as promised. Once I got my cool, I gave the security men two boxes of pizza and some soft drinks. I thanked them for the patience—the entire thing, of course, wasn’t their fault.

We finally bid goodbye to the boys, whom I would only see again in the finals. I’m happy for them to have won the season, knowing how hardworking and focused they’ve become from the day the season started.

The shoot that was became such a thriller on my part—I’ve been part of frenzied photo shoots in the past involving actual celebrities and this now holds a special place in my heart. These Lasallian players, as we’ve observed, now share the same status as the stars we know. Yet, they were never ones to acknowledge it.

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