Meet Alyssa Valdez's fierce 'momager'
Barry Viloria on May 10, 2020 08:49 AM
Behind every superstar is a mom, a manager, or sometimes, someone who is both. That’s Vania Padilla-Edralin to Baldo. (Photo by Vyn Radovan, taken after Game 1 of the #UAAPSeason78 finals, where Ateneo lost to La Salle)
(This story was originally published on May 13, 2018)
Back when The Phenom was still playing, you’d most likely be seeing a 30-something lady after an Ateneo match, waiting for former kapitana Alyssa Valdez at the dugout.
She’s almost always dressed, and only in special occasions she’s donning a pro-Lady Eagles statement shirt. Perhaps, there’s also a bouquet of flowers from fans or papers to sign from some brand trying to get her as an ambassador, in hand. When Valdez finally comes out of the athletes’ nook and into the coaster, she’d first stop to this lady’s face to give her a hug—a little chat here that is sometimes limited to just a “Hi!”
No, this lady isn’t a fan—or at least not just a fan.
“As much as I can, I watch all her games. I usually wait for her after every game,” she begins. “If we can have dinner often or lunch, dinadayo ko siya sa Katipunan from my house in Taguig. Pero everyday nagte-text kami tapos nag-uusap din.”
The talent manager
Meet Vania Padilla-Edralin, Valdez’s manager. Also an alumna of the blue school, she has been handling the Ateneo star for some years now—the two met at ICONS, an advertising talent agency where the first used to be part of, with the latter as one of her alagas. After four years and with the need to work in her own time given her motherhood duties, Padilla-Edralin left the agency. She put up her own, with some of the talents under her at ICONS eventually following suit and some more newbies joining her.
Right now, Padilla-Edralin manages Star Hotshots’ Marc Pingris and actress-wife Danica Sotto-Pingris, volleyball players Rex Intal and Des Cheng, basketball player Kib Montalbo, radio DJs Suzy (Tin Gamboa), Riki Flores and Gino Quillamor, former Ateneo courtside reporter and beauty queen Laura Lehmann, and sportscasters Anton Roxas and Migs Bustos.
But Valdez was the first.
“Lagi syang naka-smile, that’s my first impression of her. Alyssa was actually my first bae,” she jokes, before narrating how she found out about Valdez at the beginning.
“It was actually because of my husband who was a volleyball player. Nung championship game na nanalo yung Ateneo against La Salle (in a past season), sabi nya, ‘Check out yung Ateneo, si Alyssa, sobrang galing!”
“So, ako baguhan palang ako sa talent management. Kaya sabi ko, ‘Okey!’ Eh wala naman akong alam sa volleyball. That time, we would approach the Ateneo Athletics Office, with Sir Ricky Palou and Sir Jun (Capistrano). They were introduced, and we set a meeting with them and Alyssa.”
A really down-to-earth Valdez used to call Padilla-Edralin “Ma’am,” until she was told to just call her Vania. The two eventually eased up to each other, and the rest was history.
Padilla-Edralin has since kept up with Valdez’s demanding and hectic, well, everything that concerned her from school to her sport to her social commitments. She had to step in as the student-athlete’s second mom, given that Valdez's parents presently reside in Batangas. Aside from the games, Padilla-Edralin goes to her talent's practices, appearances, photo shoots, commercial shoots, and charity events. It wasn’t just about doing deskwork anymore for her to be an effective manager to Valdez—she also had to learn about the sport more “so I know always what’s going on or I can appreciate it more.”
Of this, Padilla-Edralin likes to brand herself as “momager,” or mom-manager. It’s the way she likes to handle her talents—something that “isn’t just purely a professional relationship.”
“You really need to have a relationship with your talents, really taking care of them and not just wanting to get deals or wanting to get money, but really looking out for their rest best interests. Yun yung top sa akin,” says the mom of three.
That’s how much she treats Valdez as well—say, naturally harboring the same feelings the three-time MVP has whenever she encounters a win. Or, a loss.
“Yung ‘pag naiiyak ako, it’s more of like I feel for her kasi parang I wanted it as bad as she wants it. Also, parang yun lang anak mo na kunyari hindi nakuha yung gusto niya sa sports or whatever, diba parang dinadamdam mo din? So, yun lang, I just wanted to achieve what she wants to achieve.”
Like a mom, Padilla-Edralin is never scared to put her foot down when haters get personal about her favorite, multi-awarded athlete.
“I don’t mind haters kasi they’re there and they are entitled to their own opinion. It’s that when it gets too far, I am not also afraid to face them—no problem! I don’t block anybody but I don’t mind them, pero if they make it personal to me or to my family or sobra na kay Alyssa, lalabanin ko talaga. Kasi nga humble nga siya, hindi talaga sya nagsasalita so ako nalang yun. Okey lang.”
The relationship between Padilla-Edralin and Valdez has apparently extended beyond just business. Past the four years littered with numerous endorsements bagged (more than 10 big ones, the manager claims), millions of social media followers gathered, tournaments joined and awards won, magazines covered and TV shows she’s appeared in, and what-have-you, there was the “momager”—standing in the background, cheering her on, taking her #OOTDs, connecting her to fan clubs and to the major media outfits that wanted to feature her, clearing her schedule so the athlete doesn’t have to be hard up juggling things, just simply looking out for her.
“Minsan nga may nagpa-picture na sa kin—mga dalawa or tatlong beses just to be somehow connected to Alyssa.”
“Pero super humble pa din nyan kahit dinudumog sya. No arte or yabang. Super gaan kasama. Hindi pa sya ganun kasikat pero kilala na siya, and then a lot of people wanted to manage her. Pareho pa rin sya.”
Padilla-Edralin is mostly a firsthand witness to Valdez’s most applaudable traits. Baldo is no materialistic girl, she stresses—except when she craves for sweets so the thoughtful manager has to come running with the athlete’s favorite cake in hand.
Ask her about the best and worst thing about her talent-turned-confidante and you’ll get “humility”—too much of it, come to think of it.
“Sabi ko, you deserve these things na kasi superstar na sya. Pero nahihiya pa din sya talaga.”
But it’s really what has made her stick with her alaga for some time now. Padilla-Edralin’s words speak pride for Valdez, well earned that she thinks her exit from the collegiate ranks should merit them something… fun. True enough, after culminating a fruitful UAAP career with laughter and tears in between, the two are now planning an out-of-town vacation.
Where to? “Secret pa.”
What is there to celebrate? The craziness and the beauty of recent history, and more of the same in the future—hopefully.
“Sometimes, we just like to look back and then talk about our plan. Minsan, nagse-senti na parang, ‘Wow, can you believe na matatapos na UAAP?’ ‘But it’s a whole new chapter for you,’ I say.”