Started from “Wearing jersey no. 12, Jia Morado!”
…and now we heard, “This is Jia Morado, #12 of the Ateneo Lady Eagles, signing off from the UAAP.”
Funny how painful these words are. Funny how these shallow words went into the depth of our chests, striking our veins, triggering white crystals to form in our eyes. Basically, those are just basic words we hear from players who are bound to exit. But funny, how such a huge surprise, even shocking than Coach Tai’s surprises, was pulled out before our naked senses which were already hurting.
May 6, 2017. Who would’ve thought? Who would have thought that it would be your last? Funny, how we were too focused with the exit and uncertainty of the other players, not knowing that we are also about to lose one. Funny, Ji. Funny and ironic and silly, how we smile and cry hearing your speech, hearing you bid goodbye to the UAAP. Funny how we watched you gracefully playing, how we applauded to your spectacular plays, not knowing that it would be the last time you will astoundingly stand and smile inside the court, fighting for the blue and white.
Season 76. Post-Fab Five era. Ateneo was a rebuilding team. Everyone was outlined with the question of who will take the place of the legendary Jem Ferrer. The team earned all the doubts they can have, not until they crossed through hanging bridges to reach the Finals. And the rookie, wearing jersey #12, Julia Melissa Morado was one of the lady eagles’ main guns as they bagged the first championship trophy of the school, in the field of women’s volleyball. By that time, you were already incredibly amazing. By that time, you were eyeing for another championship run the following season.
Season 77. Your sophomore year. The Ateneo Lady Eagles were undefeated throughout the whole season, winning back-to-back titles. You were the best setter. By that time, you were incredibly amazing and sensationally splendid. You were still eyeing for another championship run the following season.
Season 78. The team went through teething troubles. You fought hard, vying for 3peat, but I think that season was not for us. We surrendered the title to our archrivals but nevertheless, the Ateneo Lady Eagles were the happiest silver medalists ever seen. By that time, you were incredibly amazing, sensationally splendid, and fantastically superb. You were eyeing to bounce back for another championship title the following season.
Season 79. You were in your fourth playing year. Team Captain, you were. The team was underestimated, negatively judged, and heavily doubted. But you were just incredibly amazing, sensationally splendid, and fantastically superb. We entered the Final Four, and found keys as we opened our door for the finals. But then again, we fell short. By that time, you were much more than just superlatives, because you are far greater than being amazing, much more beyond being splendid, and more than just being superb. But unlike the past seasons, you weren’t eyeing for a championship run next season anymore. Instead, by this time, you broke millions of hearts as you sang the melody of your decision which appears to be irrevocable saying, “This is Jia Morado, #12 of the Ateneo Lady Eagles, signing off from the UAAP.”
And then it hit us. So freaking hard. Four great years. Four great and legendary and amazing and spectacular years. What you said was more painful than our painstaking loss this season. Forget the title, the trophy and the confetti. It’s okay if we lost. What’s not okay is losing our captain, our smiling assassin, our deception master, our best setter, our silent killer, our MVP, our Jia Morado. What hurts the most is the thought of you, not coming back. What hurts the most is you, not staying.
So that’s the reason why. The reason why you were just unexplainably exemplary this season. The reason why you were the best. The reason behind your golden performance is because this is your last.
Maybe it will take a long time for us to accept your decision. But we will respect it, Captain. For now, we’d just like to thank God for you, and thank you for doing it all for God. Thank you for teaching us that we can turn rocks into diamonds, that we can bounce back if we lost. Thank you for being the perfect embodiment of heart strong- standing firm, fighting hard, and still smiling even if you’re surrounded with frowns. Thank you for being the coolest setter we’ve ever known. The silent phenom who kills without making noise. The humble and unassuming player who thinks of the team more than herself. Thank you for everything, Jia. Thank you for sharing your world class talent and your big heart with us.
It is an honor to see your magic right before our naked eyes. You seem like a demigod, leaving footprints in the body of a setter. Your calm demeanor and composure in crucial times are commendable. You are the setter every spiker would wish to have, the leader every member would wish to have. Without you, everything’s blurry. Without you, everything seems to be uncertain. But no matter what happens, we’ll always be right behind you, screaming for your name at the top of our lungs, cheering our hearts out for you all the time.
And now that we’ve expressed how grateful we are of you, can we ask you something, Captain? Why? Why so sudden? Why did you surprise us? You just proved that you are the deception queen, indeed. We all know how you can gracefully drop bombs in the court, but little did we know, that you drop bombs too, outside the court. You were incredible. Amazing. Everything beyond superlatives. Was it really your last? May 6, 2017 hit us so hard, Ji. Arrows reigned the UAAP, and arrows were buried beneath our hearts, too. Not because we lost in the game, but because we lost you.
We love you, Jia.
We won’t stop hoping and believing that at some point, the universe would hear us.
One more year, please. One last stand. One last flight. One last time. One last fight for the one big fight. All for God. All for the blue and white.
We won’t lose hope and we will wait for that moment when we can hear “Wearing jersey #12, Team Captain, Jia Morado” again, one more time.
Right here waiting,
The community that shouts, “Go Ateneo, One Big Fight!”