The UAAP life in retrospect by Alyssa Valdez and Mika Reyes
Barry Viloria on Mar 25, 2017 04:41 PM
The two top volleybelles of their time on dealing with the pressure of being a star student-athlete then. (Photo courtesy of @alyssavaldez2_phenom on Instagram)
The “Star Athletes” theme in the latest issue of UAAP Magazine couldn’t be more fitting with the recent times when more and more players hailing from the formerly lesser known sports are making a name for themselves. And fast. When we started printing the annual UAAP Magazine six years ago, the editors’ goal was to feature all sports and all athletes as much as possible. Everyone of these student-athletes is a hero, we thought, and they deserved to be immortalized in the only licensed magazine of the collegiate league. Alas, the numbers of pages set some restrictions and, despite our encompassing efforts even including stories on, yes, the underappreciated pep drummers, men’s basketball still ruled. The covers featured testosterone-heavy figures playing the sport the Filipinos have long been crazy about next to boxing.
The latter years became kinder to the lesser known sports, more so women’s volleyball. The first single, fully-deserving female on the cover was then DLSU star player Michele Gumabao, beside champion baller Kiefer Ravena. The trend snowballed, and now I’m glad the magazine and television through ABS-CBN S+A are all featuring athletes from the other end of the sports spectrum. Who would have thought UAAP baseball and softball games will ever be broadcast? But now we do.
And while we have these rising stars just finding themselves on the springboard that’ll catapult them to full-blown star status, we have the likes of recent UAAP alumna and champion players Alyssa Valdez and Mika Reyes being the trailblazers of this growth. Apart from men’s basketball players our parents knew of before us, we now have these modern role models to idolize—strong, independent, social-media savvy young women who are living the life of superstars. They got titles, individual awards, endorsements, and a crazy fan base. A little before the former rivals got together for a sponsorship that sent fans celebrating, I managed to interview them separately about being two of the UAAP’s greatest products of their time and beyond. The full interview came out in the UAAP Magazine Star Athletes Issue, but here’s an excerpt. From fans to the pressure of keeping it together, check what the 3BB Nakornnont and Petron Tri-Activ Spikers heroines have to say here!
Entering the UAAP then as a freshman, did you ever think your status as an athlete would grow to how it is now? Like, a superstar?
A: Not at all. I guess it was just so timely that we are part of the generation where social media is an effective medium to reach the students and others audience.
As student-athletes we are just doing our roles and our best during games and in school to perform well. We are just grateful to be rewarded by these things now.
M: No. I never even thought I’d be able to play in the UAAP. Before, all I want is to help my parents for my tuition fee.
How was the pressure of being a top athlete?
A: Pressure is something that we have to live with. Pressure makes you push yourself to do something greater than what expect and what you aim for. Pressure will always be there as well as your team to be there no matter what.
M: Hindi nawawala yan but, for me, I had to make sure na I should did my best not to let them down by focusing and, at the same time, sticking to the standards
How did your endorsements help you out in your finances?
A: As a student-athlete, we had scholarship and the extra we got from endorsements, I saved it for other important things.
M: It really helped me and my family a lot. Hindi kami sobrang yaman, average lang din. But malaking tulong talaga especially sa mga kapatid ko for their expenses in school.
Did you feel that the shoots, guestings, and other commercial commitments got in the way of you trying to balance sports and school?
A: Our two top priorities are school and sport. Brands understand the time and schedule of athletes and try to work around the schedule of the athletes.
M: At some point before, yes, ‘cause syempre I wasn’t used to it, may nag-suffer talaga. After the season that we won the championship, I had to vacate some of the days na may class ako para sa ibang things like shoots. But eventually I learned how to balance it na din and mas maayos na communication with my professors as well.
How did you adjust to your vast social media following?
A: Ever since, I wasn't that into social media. I would like to be updated but I didn’t usually post anything. Most people who follow me know about that fact.
M: Not so much. I just needed to be more careful with my posts ‘cause I am a public figure now.
How close are you with your fans?
A: We usually have an annual charity event, a Christmas party, and if we have time we celebrate my birthday together. Aside from that, we also do meet-ups randomly. “Alyfinity” would coordinate with me and plan these get-togethers.
M: Most of the time, after my game we usually go out for dinner with my fans. I don't particularly have any favorite fans club. Every year, we celebrate, mostly on my birth month, they usually throw a small party/ get together for me.
Narrate your craziest fan encounter.
A: When someone let me sign her brand new car! I also met a girl who had tattooed my name on her arm!
M; When someone suddenly smelled me then rubbed her hanky on my arm, my hand, and my face! Just like what they do with religious statues! But I ain’t no saint! (Laughs)
How do you feel about UAAP fan fiction?
A: People who make and do it are very creative!
M: It is very creative and they really have a wild imagination! Ha ha!
Can you say your fans stayed with you even after the UAAP?
A: Yes. They become my friends and family!
M: Yes! They are still there for me and for the whole Lasallian community.