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Second Best No More

"Alyssa Valdez, always the second best."

This 6-word line kept ringing on my head every time there’s a squabble about who’s supposed to get the MVP award. Unfortunately, I forgot who said it during a game and between whose match, but surely it was a team with Alyssa on it, since they were talking about her. Well, not that they DON’T talk about her even when she or her team is not playing. She’s even talked about during NCAA volleyball tourneys. Sweet!

Of course, the “always the second best” came after they were dissecting her game, her attacks, her stats every game played. Her being “The Phenom” in general. 

They were talking about her being not named MVP during last season’s UAAPWV tourney. And that of being, again, not MVP during the SVLX, despite of her undeniable efforts to lead her team a step closer to where a tournament should always end - the Finals.

Well, they wouldn’t be named MVP, them ladies - those who elbowed past Alyssa - for nothing. Their stats and their being a team player will tell you why they are, unless it’s an award given according to the number of votes the public gave. And yes, their respective fanbases will provide you thousands of reasons why they are picked.

I remember telling a friend, a non-volleyball enthusiast (But I just started watching last season though? So will I pass as an enthusiast?), “Alyssa will have her time.” And she was like, “Who’s Alyssa again?” Jez, I wanted to strangle her that time. Haha

Anyway, so the waiting game started, for me, at least. Sorry, I’m a fan, don’t judge. Char.


Patiently waiting… (Dafuq with the ‘patiently.’ I ain’t even the patient one all my life.) 

And reading “Valdez doesn’t deserve to be MVP blah blah” comments from volleyball pages…

Okay, I’m claiming it. I was lurking. I believe it’s always best to know and educate yourself what thy enemy is thinking, talking… I’m currently thinking about chess, minus the talking part. (I also believe that a particular person who’ll read this, if she’ll get to read this will say, “You’re explaining!” and will laugh.) The word ‘enemy’ is an exaggeration, don’t you think? No? Yes? Whatever. Or maybe ‘foe’ is more fitting? What?

Anyway, forgive me for not remembering all the details, the timeline, in particular. I wasn’t even considering the idea of doing this right now back then, so…

Again. Anyway, so there were rumors circulating (thanks to the ever tentative volleyball page) that she - Alyssa - might be getting the award this time. And I was like, “Whaaaat!? Oh my… fina..” “You know, Ling, you should settle down, because it’s still not confirmed yet.” and “If it’s true then damn, I’ll be the happiest!” And I’m just one of the many. And many non-Alyssa believers were like, “Hell no!” And the undying and never-ending clash of the both sides started, especially when Mr/Ms Tentative decided to uproot the “This Way” sign and pointed it to another direction. I’m taking back my thank you this time. Yes.

Another name came up.

Another clash of the die-hards started.

More engaging.

More heated.

More “STFU fantards.” “No, you’re the fantard.” “Oh yeah?” Damn right yeah!” It started to become a battle of the dumb and the dumber. Which was which, I don’t know. I wouldn’t say either even if I do know. It’s not that hard to tell which is which, by the way. 

Days passed.

Weeks, even.

And still the rumor was hanging in the air like a sweet aroma of coffee during a lazy morning. Sorry. I love coffee and I’m lazy during early mornings, that’s why. :)

 And I was like, “Is it really her?” “No, chill, Ling. If it’s meant to be her then it’ll be her. If not, she’ll have her time.” and “I’ll only believe it if she’ll be walking towards the spot to get her trophy.” (“I hope it’s her, though.” *fingers crossed*)

And the long wait’s over. (Was it really that long a waiting?*squints eyes*)

It’s her.

Officially, finally. March 8, 2014.

Alyssa Valdez, the MVP!

Don’t expect me to describe how I felt that precious, sweetest moment as a fan, because I can’t. I just can’t. But generally, I was like, “Ha! There you go. Not the always-second-best anymore.” God must have loved Alyssa so much to have given her the skills and the talent and the heart to be where she is right now. And I’m not saying God doesn’t love the rest of the candidates, okay? Just in case. *wink*

I think I have tweeted that her being the MVP validates her greatness. I was wrong. That Game 2 of The Finals did. I know, I know, they lost. And yes, her service error gave La Salle their matchpoint. I’m talking about her post-game interview though. It was painful to know that she’s blaming herself for the loss. Still breaks my heart, I swear! (Don’t do that to yourself, please. Nobody blamed nobody.) But it definitely defined Alyssa Valdez as a person - a lady oozing with humility. And it’s flowing out from every pores of her body. (I’m particularly thinking about the abs.) 

They may have lost, but she and the rest of the Lady Eagles definitely won hearts again. It’s not as victorious to many, but it definitely was the sweetest to me, at least. Okay, bittersweet. Not bitter because of the defeat - they fought hard and gave their all, that mattered to me, okay? - but because I know, as a person, self-blaming ain’t sweet. 

Alyssa, we know there’s that one thing you and the rest of the Lady Eagles are aiming right now. And that the rest of the battle ain’t gon’ be a walk in the park, but, we’re just here. Whatever happens, no matter what. Keep the faith, ladies! SOAR! Heart strong!

P.S. I’d like to say that my heart wants to say “From the bottom-est pit of my fangirling heart, I love you, Phenom!” but my inner self is cringing and is shooting her brow upwards few inches away from the hairline because it’s too cheesy, and she hates kesoness. But what the hell, I typed it anyway. Haha



On Assignment in Kenya with @balazsgardi

To see more photos and videos from photojournalist Balazs Gardi’s work in Kenya and elsewhere, follow @balazsgardi on Instagram.

Photojournalist Balazs Gardi (@balazsgardi) has spent the past decade documenting the effects of the unfolding global water crisis. Balazs’s work has taken him to more than 20 countries across Africa and the Middle East. Most recently, he finds himself in Kenya: “With the changing climate, the people of Kenya’s already arid Turkana region suffer greatly from the consequences of prolonged droughts,” he explains.

It was Balazs’s grandmother that sparked his interest in photography. “She had it in her head that photography was a good path for a young man with no patience for authority or office work,” he says. “She was right, and I discovered that photography was a way to learn about people, their situations and problems, and about the world.”

As he learns and shares the stories of people affected by the water crisis, Balazs says Instagram “has become a vital tool to share work that matters to me and allows me to put the image in context and deliver it directly to my audience.”

Balazs hopes his photos and videos will stir people to action. “By passing on my experiences, I’d like not only to inform but also to spark meaningful public dialog. As time goes on I hope my audience takes action that either directly helps people in great need or changes their own behavior for the better.”

A Pinch Of Salt To A Wounded Ego

Sometimes, it’s safe to just downplay with life, not because you’re supposed to downplay but just tryna’ keeping it real. Like shutting ‘em up with your total silence, do the unthinkable as if saying, “Yep! Right back at ya.”  Because really, there is nothing better in this world than surprising everybody what you can and can’t do. Like, “Oh, she can’t do that. She can’t do this.” and then BOOM! “There goes that downplaying girl, doing things they thought she ain’t capable of doing.” And then they’d be sitting on their old rocking chairs next to the window, looking at nothing in particular while shaking their heads, thinking, “Damn that girl, she did it. Hell yeah, she did!” And they’d be opening their eyes widely, because they just realize they’ve been counting out the girl to greatness, and they’d be smirking because they’ve been slapped by their own stupidity, and do a 180 degrees, backpedaling, telling ‘em self, “Others can do it better than that girl, anyway. Whatta fluke!” Yep! It’s their wounded ego that’s talking.

I don’t even know why I’m writing this stuff. Haha! It’s just.. my most fave team in the world crawled miraculously on their way up and beat the undefeated foe of all foes - not that it’s the ultimate win a.k.a championship, but hey, they pleased me so what the hell! - and people are still trying to stomp their feet forcibly on my girls’ throats, without realizing that they’ve been choking themselves by and with their own pea-size of a brain. Try hitting them straight in the hearts with your arrows, y’all! You can jeer all you want, but do try harder, because they have hearts strong enough to repel mockeries. :) #HEARTSTRONG! 

But then again, the fallen might will always find a way to come back stronger, better, deadlier and will try to beat the shit out of those who shamed them. That’s a fact. So, yeah, who knows what’s about to come? It’s gon’ be bloody! Well, not literally. 

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