Hindi lahat naniniwala sa akin -- Rachel Anne Daquis
Mark Escarlote on Jul 01, 2016 10:24 AM
Nakaka-pressure po ito sir, bakit ako? -- Rachel Anne Daquis
Rachel Anne Daquis slowly walked towards Philippine Superliga president Ramon “Tats” Suzara.
Her RC Cola-Army teammates all looked at her, clapping their hands as applause echoed around the Cuneta Astrodome.
Her strides were slow. She was hesitant.
Daquis wore the same smile that endeared her to adoring fans starting from her college years in Far Eastern University more than a decade ago and the one she flashed in numerous magazine covers.
But there’s something inside her head that wanted her to turn back and just join her teammates at the service line.
To get it out of her mind she gave a playful gesture to the PSL mascot with a half up ponytail as she continued walking.
As she pressed her cheeks to Suzara’s while holding a golden ticket tightly on her hands as one of the first two Filipina members of the team that will represent the country in the 2016 FIVB World Club Women’s Championship, Daquis whispered an unexpected question to the PSL official.
“Nakaka-pressure po ito sir, bakit ako?”
Daquis after receiving the golden ticket and fitting the golden jacket as proof of being a part of the first Philippine club team to compete in the world championship didn’t show any emotion like her teammate Jovelyn Gonzaga, who shed tears as her name was called.
She just smiled as photographers snapped shots at the two Lady Troopers.
But she just can’t hold her emotions that long.
Asked during the post-game interview after Army’s third straight win in the All-Filipino Conference Thursday night against Philippine Navy of her thoughts of playing against the world’s best volleyball players, Daquis’ voice crackled.
“Siyempre una nakaka-pressure kasi hindi naman lahat ng tao naniniwala sa’yo but pinagkakatiwalaan ko na lang ang plano sa akin ni Papa Jesus,” said the 28-year-old hitter.
Her statement to the media said it all.
Daquis is not reluctant. She’s afraid.
She fears that her inclusion to the team will add fuel to her doubters’ already blazing criticisms towards her.
That Daquis is not good enough, not even as talented compared to the stars that followed after her. That her glitter has already diminished.
That she claimed her golden ticket because she’s cursed with physical beauty that will market the Filipina volleybelles only as eye candies.
Just looking at the fans reactions on social media for Daquis is like a row of thousand knives slowly piercing on her very soul.
Volleyball fans that were baptized to the sport just recently are quick to downplay the achievements and sacrifices made by Daquis.
They forgot – or do not know entirely – that Daquis, whose trademark is the hop-step approach to an attack, was with the last FEU team that won the UAAP title in Season 70, a three-time V-League champion and five-time PSL title winner.
No easy road taken
Rachel Daquis became FEU’s talk of the town when a pretty lass from Taytay descended from the province of Rizal to wear the green Lady Tamaraws jersey.
Tall, pretty, has a smile to die for and an unorthodox spike that blockers find hard to time.
She turned heads but not after getting turned down.
Her journey to stardom started with a trip down Espana with her mom.
Already well-known as a varsity playing for Juan Sumulong Memorial High School, Daquis wanted to tryout at University of Sto. Tomas.
But as luck would have it, they arrived late as the the August Sta. Maria-mentored squad has already gone to participate in an out of town tournament. She was asked to return after the team finished the tournament but it was already deep into enrolment week.
They next walked to Morayta into a school that holds the most number of UAAP titles. She attended the try-out and got a slot to the team.
However, frustration again slapped her in the face.
She was not supposed to make the cut for the final line-up that will play in the coming UAAP season.
Luckily, a slot was vacated and to fill in the roster, Daquis got the spot.
Her first couple of years were filled with frustration as FEU year after year failed to capture the title.
In Season 69, she felt that fate was against her as the Lady Tams bowed down to UST, the team where she wanted to play originally, in two games.
Daquis and the Lady Tams got their revenge the following year booting out the Tigresses in the Final Four to set up a championship showdown with Michelle Segodine and the Adamson Lady Falcons, who defeated them in a playoff for the top seed in five sets.
As expected, swag, attitude with a sprinkle of thrash talking flavored the series. The windup of the series became a classic as FEU escaped a five-set thriller to capture its first title since Season 65 that eventually became the school’s last to date.
Frustration again embraced Daquis as her swan song turned to a bitter tune with the Lady Tams surrendering the title to the Manilla Santos-led De La Salle University.
She then played amateur volleyball in V-League before going on a brief hiatus as she went to Germany to join her mother.
She returned to play for Philippine Army who won Season 8 Open Conference, gave FEU and Army the 1st Conference and Open Conference crowns, respectively, in Season 11.
She also helped Army win three straight titles in the PSL, she transferred to Petron in 2015 after Army left the league and won the crown for the Blaze Spikers topped by her bagging the All-Filipino MVP award. Daquis’ PSL championship streak was snapped as Petron fell short of defending the Grand Prix title in 2015.
Daquis was recalled by Army this season and the Lady Troopers conquered the 2016 Invitational diadem.
From Morayta to the world
Daquis’ local achievements made her a top choice for international tour of duty.
She joined the 2014 team that participated in the Asian Club Championship in Thailand with the squad winning two games in the preliminary round before ending up at eighth spot in the 10-club field.
Daquis got a spot in the 2015 Singapore Southeast Asian Games that was supposed to be one of the country’s strongest assembled and most talked-about team with the likes of Alyssa Valdez and the towering Santiago sisters, Dindin and Jaja leading the charge.
But a decade of stagnancy from international tournaments, last-minute composition of the team and social media fanfare of a squad filled with stars and backed by fans that turned the national team into a rock band fueled by popularity rather than competitive credentials took its toll.
The team won only one game against Malaysia, who like the Philippines was just getting back on its feet in volleyball.
Daquis then saw herself flying to Vietnam to join her second Asian Club Championship stint with Petron.
But what gave Daquis the fright of once again competing internationally was after her inclusion to the PSL-All Star team that participated in the 2016 Thai-Denmark Super League in Bangkok, Thailand last March.
The team lost all three games and admittedly Daquis didn’t play well.
“Masama talaga ang laro ni Rachel nu’n. Bina-bash siya ng mga tao e hindi nila alam na may shoulder injury ‘yun at sobrang tinitis lang niya yung sakit para lang maipakita na deserve niyang maglaro roon,” said Suzara in an intimate talk with a select group of reporters.
That thought haunted her. That made her feel undeserving of an opportunity of a lifetime.
Daquis’ tears rolled down her cheek that turned pink as she continued talking.
“Siyempre kumbaga we cannot please everyone so for me as an athlete siyempre itata-try ko ang best ko,” she said in a moment that turned the once face of Philippine Volleyball vulenerable. “Magti-train akong mabuti para alam mo ‘yun mawala ang mga doubt na ipinapakita din nila sa akin, sa mga naririnig ko sa ibang tao.”
Daquis wanted to let her emotions out that for a long time she kept behind her smile and jolly attitude.
“Sila din ang nagcha-challenge sa akin na mas lalo kong ayusin kasi hindi naman mawawala sa career ‘yung ganoon na may mga nangba-bash sa’yo,” she added.
Rachel Daquis is not the Philippines’ best volleyball player.
But come October 18 to 23 she’ll be a part of the world stage competing with the world’s best.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles