An Open Letter to Jia Morado

​Dearest Jia,


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!”

New Team, Same Dream, Same Big Fight

Few more days.

Few more days before we can finally see them in action.

Before we can finally see them put up big fights.

Before we can finally rip our lungs out, and cheer our hearts out.

Few more days before we can hear drumrolls and loud shouts. May it be from the Arena, or from our own hearts.

Few more days before we can finally feel like we’re going to run out of oxygen, every point, every set, every game.

Few more days to see the Lady Eagles serve, spike, set, dig, and dive. All of their own. Without Kiwi, without Mae, and without the Queen Eagle. 

Few more days to witness what heartstrong really is.

Yes, because few more days before the UAAP Season of the Ateneo Women’s Volleyball Team in the post-Alyssa Valdez era starts.

Few more days before they will stand on their own feet. Without pressure. Without hype. Just one big fight.

Are you ready to witness another greatness? Are you ready to welcome another queens? 

Be prepared to shout One Big Fight as we, altogether will climb our way onto reclaiming the volleyball crown. Be ready to scream, jump, shout, and get hyped as we are about to witness the heartstronger Lady Eagles in their biggest fights!

Because the clock tick-tocks so fast, because the Earth rotates and revolves so fast, some of us haven’t totally swallowed the idea that we can longer hear “Alyssa Valdez down the line!”,”Alyssa Valdez with a kill!”, “Alyssa Valdez from the backrow!”, “Alyssa Valdez puts it away!”, “Alyssaaaaaaaaa Valdeeeeez!”, because she, the Phenom is already done with her domination in the UAAP. But surely, we would hear, “Jhoana Maraguinot!”, “Bea de Leon!”, “Jia Morado!”, “Mich Morente!”, “Kat Tolentino!”, “Kim Gequillana!”, and the rest of the Lady Eagles. Because the crowd favorite Valdez is now spreading her wings in Thailand, bringing one big fight and Typhoon Baldo in 3BB, we would surely be clapping our hands to the lady eagles with wings yet to unfold. And together, as a team, as a fandom, as one with the community that bleeds blue, would cheer for Alyssa miles away, and for the Ateneo Team all the way!

Many counted the Eagles out. They were underestimated. They were degraded. Since the V-League Collegiate Conference, they were pulled down by non-believers. But as strong as our hearts are, never did they back down. They did not even stare down on their bashers. When everyone’s busy putting them down, they were there, at Thailand, at Japan, gaining experiences and acquiring skills in order to put up exciting battles in the battlefield.

So go, faves. As the UAAP Volleyball Season 79 comes nearer, we believe that you can and you will fight harder and harder each game. You maybe are dubbed as a young team, but age could never define the outcomes of your games. Your heart will, your determination and hardwork will. We believe that eveything you’ve been through made you stronger and mightier than ever. We believe that the super rookies would fly high and spread their eagle-like wings above all. We believe that the returning key players are much eager to shake, rattle, and roll the volleyball court. Don’t let failures hinder you in claiming the crown. Instead, use them as turning points and breakthroughs to prove them wrong. Nowhere to go but up, girls. We are certain that all of you, Lady Eagles are going to swim depth of oceans, climb the highest mountains, and reach the top, against all odds. We believe. We always will.

We will never get tired of cheering and tweeting and watching you. Because never did you get tired to look after bombs and balls thrown onto you. Thank you for sharing your talents with us. Just remember that you’ve got a one big blue fam behind your back, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. Win or lose, we are here. Win. or. Lose. Because you may not win it all, but surely, you’ve won our hearts.

We are ready to welcome another era of greatness, Lady Eagles.  

Our lungs are more than ready to cheer for you. Our hands are more than ready to clap for you. Our feet are more than prepared to jump for you. Because we know, and we believe, that you are more than ready to conquer UAAP. 

Through the mantra of being HAPPY, playing with UNITY and nothing but HEARTSTRONG.

We’re going to do it one point at a time, one set at a time, one game at a time.

New team. Same dream. Same big fight.

Fight Until The Last Blood

Last few seconds of the fourth and final quarter.

Will it be the last few seconds of the UAAP Basketball Finals Game 2?

Or will it be the last few seconds of the UAAP Basketball Season 79?

 

Seas of blue shouting “Get that ball!”

Passionate fans in blue, holding banners, cheering their hearts out, no matter how many times you fall.

Intense match. Exciting game. Stupid calls. Hype fans. Gwapo moves. Excellent passes. Amazing plays. Only in an Ateneo-La Salle match.

Goosebumps. Nervous hearts. Prayers. Because we believe. We trust. We hope. For the entire season, we cheered our hearts out. We didn’t let doubters bring us down. Instead, we proved them wrong. You were dubbed as underdogs. You were underestimated. You were sold short. You weren’t considered as top contenders. You were predicted to be at the lower part of the list.

Nevertheless, you made them shut up. You silenced the non-believers, not through bragging nor boasting, but through working hard and flying high. Through getting up, standing up, you managed to crawl your way up. It wasn’t an easy flight. In fact, it was accompanied with so much difficulties. The entire season was tiring, hard-bitten and heavy-handed. From your unending hardships during trainings, up to the indescribable pressure every game. From the motivations you get from your supporters, up to the harsh and unreasonable hate tweets from your doubters. You sacrificed so much. For Ateneo, for the blue community, and most importantly, for the greater glory of God.

Last few seconds.

11…

10…

9…

8…

7…

La Salle leads by 6, their possession.

Some may say the battle’s over, but not me, not us.

The King Archer is already raising his hands, smelling victory.

They told me “Wala na, Champion na La Salle.”

But no. It’s not yet over. It’s no game over.

Because there are 6 seconds left. I believed. I silently hoped. Why would I stop believing? Why would I declare that the archers are already winners if there are few seconds left? I was waiting for a miracle. I did not stop cheering. Because I know they can, and they will; if God permits. “One Big Fight” is still in my LED scrolling display. Why would I give up, why would I stop believing when my team is freaking fighting? I do not have any right to back down because the Ateneo Blue Eagles are doing their thing! Tell me, why would I stop when through their eyes, I can see them saying, “We can’t stop, we won’t stop.”

And then it hits me.

The final buzzer already was heard.

The final buzzer of the UAAP Basketball Season 79. And the DLSU green archers claimed their 9th championship.

But I was surprised with my own feelings and emotions. I wasn’t that broken, wasn’t that lonely. Yes, it is sad. Who wants to lose? I think no one would. But that loss was one of the happiest loss I ever had for the whole time I am supporting Ateneo. It isn’t that heartbreaking because we’ve seen them struggle but we’ve also witnessed how they managed to strive and move forward, against all odds. They played against a much experienced team, but they fought really hard, they did their best and it’s already more than enough.

To the Ateneo Blue Eagles, thank you for the one big fight. Thank you for playing your hearts out. Thank you for this season’s rollercoaster ride. For the three-pointers, buzzer beaters, spins, blocks, excellent plays, and amazing ball movements you showed us. But above all, thank you for that big and humble heart. That strong heart who, in every way possible, has found ways to fight back and fly high when arrows and other warriors attack. You were down, but you went up. Now, that’s pure heart. And that’s something to be proud of.

So heads up. You didn’t lose anything. Maybe you did lose this season’s title, but tomorrow is another day, and next year is another season. But you gave your all, and with that, you’re already winners. Despite of that, we’d like to introduce ourselves to you all.

We are your supporters.

Win or lose, we’ll cheer for you.

You maybe are up by 15, or down by 20, but we will never get tired to shout your names and wear your color.

You never fail to amaze us.

Because when there’s 20% of chance to win, you taught us that we should not underestimate that 20%.

Thank you for making our hearts skip a beat. Because every game, we’re feeling like we’re near the end of our lives because of jittery.

When they no longer believe, we always will.

When they lose hope, we won’t.

We are one. We’re all in this together.

This isn’t just your game. This is ours. This is our battle.

 

So go, blue eagles. Play hard, train harder. Don’t let defeats bring you down. Use them as stepladders to be on top. But always remember, no matter how high the heights you have reached, stay humble. Because that makes you the best. Much better than the victors, much better than any contenders. Don’t brag about anything. Because you don’t need to. We’ll brag for you, because we’ll always be proud of you. Win or lose.

 

I did not regret that I cheered for this team. A team that’s humble in victory, and gracious in defeat. I won’t give up and I won’t stop believing, because you never did, until the last second, until the last buzzer.

You fought really hard, until the last blood.

Thank you, Blue Eagles.

Life after all, is not about winning. It’s about fighting and giving your all in that one big fight.

Thank you for not giving the ball up.

Even in the last few seconds.

Thank you for doing everything you could.

Thank you for fighting until the last second.

Thank you for fighting until the last blood.

Because silver feels like gold when you gave your all and you fought despite your size, experience, and number.

Thank you Gboy Babilonia, Jme Escaler, Shaun Ildefonso, Anton Asistio, Raffy Verano, Matt Nieto, Chibueze Ikeh, Adrian Wong, Jawuan White, Aaron Black, Jolo Mendoza, Vince Tolentino, Kris Porter, Mike Nieto, Isaac Go, Thirdy Ravena, and Coach Tab Baldwin.

Thank you for the one big fight.cyukhbmweaajmki