UAAP Season 80 Women’s Volleyball: 'No Regrets' for Jaja Santiago as she exits NU
Santino Honasan on Apr 22, 2018 08:40 PM
“Hinayang? Hindi, wala naman akong pinanghihinayangan ngayon eh, kasi sabi ko nga, ginugusto ko naman lahat ng desisyon ko, pinag-trabahuan ko, pinaghirapan ko lahat ng pinagdesisyunan ko.”
Sunday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena, National University’s Jaja Santiago took to the court for the last time.
The six-foot-five middle hitter and her Lady Bulldogs came up short in the UAAP Season 80 Women’s Volleyball semifinals, bowing to defending champions De La Salle University in three sets.
It marked the end of what started out as a very promising season for Santiago and the Lady Bulldogs. Moreover, it marked the end of Santiago’s playing career.
“Sobrang naging emotional ako, sobrang naiyak talaga ako, kasi last playing year ko na with these ladies, yung teammates ko, sobrang dami din naming pinagdaanan sa NU,” Santiago said during the post-game press conference. “High school pa lang yung iba nga diyan kasama ko na eh, so sobrang hirap na iwanan sila, and sobrang sakit na hindi ko din nabigay yung gusto namin na mangyari.”
In Santiago’s five seasons with NU, she helped the Lady Bulldogs reach the semifinals three times, including this final season.
And while she wasn’t able to bring a title back to Sampaloc, Santiago maintains that she has no regrets with her UAAP career.
Before suiting up for NU, Santiago received an offer to play in the United States, for UCLA, but ultimately remained with the Lady Bulldogs.
“Sabi nga nila, kung ano yung pinagdesisyunan mo, kumbaga no regrets, kasi ginusto mo yun eh.”
“Hindi naman naka-sama sa akin, actually naka-buti pa nga, napre-prepare ako sa mga susunod na opportunities sa akin.” Santiago added.
Prior to Season 80, Santiago again received an offer, this time to play for Thailand-based club team Bangkok Glass, but again, ultimately decided to play out her final year with NU.
Again, the 22-year old maintains that she believes she made the right call.
“Hinayang? Hindi, wala naman akong pinanghihinayangan ngayon eh, kasi sabi ko nga, ginugusto ko naman lahat ng desisyon ko, pinagtrabahuan ko, pinag-hirapan ko lahat ng pinagdesisyunan ko.”
For Santiago, it was all about being there for her teammates.
“Siguro kung iniwanan ko yung teammates ko and babalik pa ako next season, mas pagsisisihan ko, feeling ko, kasi konti lang kami ngayon eh, kung iiwan ko pa sila, ano yung kakalabasan ng season namin ngayon kung wala ako sa tabi nila.”
Now, the sun sets on Santiago’s remarkable five year career, one that saw her establish herself as one of the most talented players in Philippine volleyball.
Santiago hopes that as she moves on to the next chapter of her volleyball journey, she’s remember not just for her towering stature, but more importantly for what she brought to the table during her time wearing the blue and gold.
“Gusto ko ma-remember ako ng mga tao, not by height, pero siguro kung ano ako, kung ano yung naitulong ko sa team, sa country…matatandaan ka nila kung paano mo pinakita yung sarili mo, kung ano yung attitude na pinakita mo sa kanila, personality na pinakita mo sa kanila, not just yung bigay. Gusto ko matandaan nila ako sa Jaja talaga.”