The old FEU R. Papa Gym was my playground when I was six years old. I sit on the bleachers inside the gym as I see the balls up in the air from a far. Whenever I observe during the volleyball training of the FEU Men’s Volleyball Team, I make sure that I have my books and notebooks with me so I can do my assignments as I wait for my Dad to finish his volleyball training.
I must say that Volleyball had been the means of my family to survive. Though it’s ironic that I didn’t even inherit any single gene from my parents that concerns the sport, I am still thankful that at least I can be a mouthpiece to share their journey to the readers. I may not appear sporty but I must say that I have a big heart for student athletes. It’s because I know where they are coming from and I know their stories.
Your way in getting your name heard during the school’s Pep Rally isn’t an easy battle. It gives you a heavy load on your shoulders as you carry the name of the University in the UAAP. Aside from that, being included in the team’s official line up is an uphill battle.
If you are a student from the province and you are feeling discouraged because you feel like you can’t be recruited by big universities and colleges in Manila, I want to tell you that there is nothing impossible if you will have faith and if you will believe in yourself. Let me share you the story of the former student athlete who is very close to my heart, my Dad, George Pascua.
From the dusty courts of Tarlac to the UAAP court
My Dad isn’t born from a rich family. His mom was a fish vendor and his dad used to work abroad. He grew up in Concepcion, Tarlac. He graduated high school from Benigno Aquino National High School. During his high school years, he became the representative of Region III for Palarong Pambansa in the Volleyball event. He’s a simple boy with big dreams. Sad though, no one shared the victory with him during those days because his parents are too busy to attend the awarding ceremonies and even high school graduation. In spite of that, the idea of being not appreciated never come to his mind. His dreams are more important than the appreciation of other people. Come after high school graduation, he got no ways to come to Manila to attend the volleyball tryouts because they are financially weak that time.
My Dad found a peso in his pocket and bet it in a small town lottery. I remember what one author said, that if something is really meant for you, the universe will conspire to make it happen. He picked his lucky numbers, they cooperated with fate and he won money. His one peso coin became P 300, enough for him to buy a bus ticket going to Morayta to have the try out for the FEU Men’s Volleyball Team. He made it to the team, his stepping stone.
Lesson in this story is, if you really are after your dream you will try the best possible ways to get there.
From UAAP court to the ends of the Earth
One time I was fixing my dad’s cabinet and I found three Philippine passports. As I flip the pages, I saw different stamps from several countries: Japan, Korea, Dubai, Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong etc. I asked him how he was able to fill three passports and he said it’s because of Volleyball. When he was still a student athlete, he was a part of the RP Youth Men’s Volleyball Team, the official national representatives of the Philippines to South East Asian (SEA) Games and other competitions. They go to different countries, compete, make the sport and country known.
If there’s one thing that I think my Dad taught me very well, it’s the value of commitment. 1991, the year when Mt. Pinatubo erupted was the same season of preparation for the UAAP. His family who is residing at Tarlac that time was very affected by the catastrophe. He got no cellphone to contact them. He only depends on the news he sees on TV. The only part of their house that can be seen was the roof, the rest was embraced by the Lahar. If I will put myself in the shoes of my Dad that time, I may be slightly going insane because of too much worry. Even if he wanted to go home, he can’t because roads going there were impassible. So instead of burying himself to worry and depression, he went to the court and practiced alone, did some strengthening and conditioning drills to divert the emotion. He is committed to perform a good play in the UAAP and there’s no natural calamity that can be an excuse for him to mess up in the court.
Lesson is, being committed to the sport can bring you to greater heights or best makes you travel around the world. Remember that your reputation as an athlete counts. Walk the talk and be good role model of strength and courage.
The Athlete Character
We can’t learn good character overnight. It takes a lifetime and every single important reflection to contribute to its making. Being an athlete is not just about the character of being physically strong to survive the games. It’s about the heart to understand others, humility to accept defeats and self-control to handle difficult situations. More than the high jumps and quick spikes that I see from my father it’s his athlete character that I appreciate the most.
Back when he was still a college player, they only got electric fans to ventilate their room. They occupy the converted restroom as their quarters. They got no wifi or television. I think the student athletes nowadays are lucky enough to have their rooms air conditioned. To have the resources available just to accomplish their assignments in school, so there’s no way to make it as an excuse that they are athletes, tired from yesterday’s training, that’s why they are late in class and can’t submit their homework.
After his collegiate years, he entered to Philippine Air Force and had the A1C rank. He plays for the PAF team and at the same time do the soldier duties. I remember I think the year during the Oakwood Mutiny. 10PM, we were watching TV at home then his phone suddenly rings. He quickly changed his clothes to that of the BDA/Camouflage suit and it’s because he was called to go to the barracks for a red alert. We always feel worried whenever this happens because his safety isn’t assured. After several years of the Philippine Air Force, we encouraged him to discharge from service and just focus on his coaching career.
Lesson is, being a student athlete is the best season for you to mold yourselves to be better people. Being an athlete is the best time to gain more maturity. At the end of your playing years in the UAAP, it’s not just the improved skills that should be your take home, but most importantly your well-rounded storm-proof human spirit.
Passing the Passion
Time is the most precious gift that we can give to others. There are a lot of young students who come to my Dad for training. He never deprives them of his time. He always tells me, “Hindi ko naman madadala ang Volleyball skill ko sa langit. Kaya ipapasa ko nalang siya habang nandito pa ako.” For him, the greatest legacy that an athlete can do is to make athletes who are better than himself. He exerts full effort to bring out the potential in every young person that he mentors. For him, it’s better to get a rookie player who knows nothing about volleyball because it’s from there that he can help them develop their willingness to learn. The results of his training and mentoring are not just skills but PEOPLE.
Lesson is, if you know that you are blessed with a talent in sport don’t think that you will only help if the price is right. Don’t have the showbiz attitude. The moment you are born, you already have the innate special gift inside you, God-given gifts that you can use to inspire other people. Make that talent as your tool to become a positive influence to the next generation.
I seldom write about my Dad, but I know that these phases of his life story had influenced me to what I’ve become today. There’s a lot more to tell. Bottom line is, you should be proud if you are a student athlete. Not because you appear on TV or in the campus newspaper, but because you have a great opportunity to ripple positive influence and inspiration to this world. Use your gift wisely.