From Lipa to Florence to San Marcelino: Chiara Permentilla set to take flight for Adamson
Meet Chiara Permetilla, the first-year Adamson hitter who learned and developed as a volleyball player in Italy, and is primed to take the reins from Jema Galanza once the Queen Falcon graduates after this season.
In Adamson's Premier Volleyball League game last July 12, against the stacked Power Smashers team that had high-powered hitters like reigning NCAA women's volleyball MVP Jovie Prado and UST standout Dimdim Pacres, there was an unfamiliar name that rang through the commentators' microphones time and time again.
The then-winless Lady Falcons were trying their best to shake off a humiliating 1-13 outing in the UAAP season 79 women's volleyball tournament, and a new starter, Chiara Permentilla was doing most of the heavy lifting early on.
The 5'8" outside hitter, a transferee from De La Salle-Lipa, had the San Juan Arena buzzing with her flurry of thunderous cross-court hits and off-the-block kills.
Against some of the beaming stars of Philippine collegiate volleyball, the 20-year old Lady Falcon shone the brightest.
Permentilla finished that game with 24 points, punctuated by a facial on Vira May Guillema, and the winning point. It was welcome production next to Jema Galanza's 17 points.
After riding the bench for majority of their first two games, it was Chiara's time to shine, and she knew it.
“Sobrang thankful and blessed. I guess after this game na ano ko na worth it lahat ng hard work sa practice,” Permentilla said post-game. “Sabi nga lagi ni coach Air [Padda], your time will come. And I guess, tonight, is my time.”
More than the breakthrough win, however, Permentilla's breakout game signalled a new age for the Adamson Lady Falcons.
GROWING UP IN ITALY
When Chiara was in second grade, her parents decided to prolong what was then a planned vacation to the Tuscan capital of Florence, Italy into a four-year stay.
This was where Chiara's mother Au introduced her to volleyball.
"I was in third or fourth grade then," Chiara recalled, "My mom used to be a volleyball player so of course, she wanted me to be like her," she said in an interview with ABS-CBN Sports.
Permentilla retraced the start of her serious volleyball journey and found herself back in fifth grade, where she was already showing promise beyond her years, and her height.
"My mother enrolled me to a school, I played volleyball there and the funny thing is kasi yung elementary dun is only up to fifth grade, and when I was at my fifth grade, I was practicing for the elementary team, and also for the high school team. [They wanted to recruit me] for the high school [team]," she recalled.
With bigger and more physically-gifted opponents and teammates, Chiara looked for a way to stand out.
"I wasn't really that tall when I was a kid, and siyempre, being with Italians, they were taller in nature and ayun, competition was pretty tough back then kahit elementary pa lang," Chiara said.
Like most Pinoys abroad, Chiara found the strength make most out of what she had.
"Instead of pulling myself back, I pushed myself forward to be able to compete with them, and volleyball is not all about height, anyways, like you can be tall but not skill-wise, so I helped myself na ma-workout ko pa yung skills ko para kung sa height man sila lumamang sakin, kaya ko sila pantayan with my skills," the Filipino-Italian proudly shared.
GOING BACK HOME
When it seemed like Chiara's volleyball journey was slowly on the rise, it was suddenly put on hold, as the Permentillas went back home to the Philippines.
She finished her secondary education in Canossa Academy Lipa, and then went to De La Salle-Lipa to study for college, where she also played for for two years.
good to be back home 💚 pic.twitter.com/XcmLLkHYAo— chiara permentilla (@chiiaramay) October 23, 2017
She admitted that the DLSU Lady Spikers, the most decorated squad in Philippine women's collegiate volleyball expressed their interest on recruiting her, but her parents did not approve to let her move to the big city just yet.
"That time hindi pa ako pinapayagang mag-Manila ng parents ko so 'yun, medyo na-delay yung pag-Mamanila ko," she said.
A LADY FALCON HAS LANDED
When the door to Taft Avenue closed, a new one opened in San Marcelino.
As fate would have it, Cherry Macatangay, the Lady Falcons' assistant coach and a former volleybelle for Adamson, was also an alumna of her high school.
Macatangay, a decorated player herself, proved to be an ace scout of talent as well. It was through her keen eye through which Permentilla's career with Adamson would begin.
Akari Cup 2017 CHAMPIONS 💙💙💙 pic.twitter.com/34KWJpivru— chiara permentilla (@chiiaramay) December 10, 2017
As Chiara recalled: "It was a one-day league sa Canossa, which was my high school alma mater and it happened na nandun din si Coach Cherry (Macatangay), we were playing against them kasi mga alumni ng Canossa and then they were asking 'Why won't you go to Manila?'"
"Then may lower batch[mate] ako na high school na magta-try out siya for Adamson and parang Coach Cherry was like 'Why don't you try Adamson, come to practice?'" she continued.
While Chiara didn’t answer with an immediate yes, but Coach Cherry got her way.
"Nung time na yun din, I was going to Italy for the summer, I was gonna do some business with my papers," she said.
"I was hesitant then dun ko lang din na-ask parents ko if i can go to Manila this time. Yun, napursuade ko naman sila and the moment I went back here to the Philippines, first thing I did was go to Adamson."
TO THE UAAP AND BEYOND
Chiara fondly remembered her first visit to the San Marcelino-based school. "Adamson treated me like family, they welcomed me whole-heartedly and they were very generous. So, like, why not stay?"
While still part of the squad's Team B last season after transfering from La Salle-Lipa, Chiara was already part of the Adamson squad that competed in the PVL Open Conference.
Initially struggling to find playing time and breaking into the starting lineup, Chiara's hard work during practice eventually paid off as she earned a spot against the vaunted Power Smashers.
“This week she had some good practices, so we gave her a chance, and she really performed well,” Coach Air said after Chiara's breakout performance.
Looking back, Permentilla was nothing but thankful for the chance to prove what she's capable of.
"First league ko kasi with Adamson is the PVL, so it helped me boost my confidence, it helped me adjust to a new environment, to the crowd, kasi siyempre medyo big na ngayon."
It was an initial conclusion of a journey that started from the other side of the globe, and is set to continue in San Marcelino, Manila.
"From the performances that I've been doing for the past two PVL conferences, I think I'm pretty confident I'll be able to play at my full potential for the UAAP," she said.