From a boy who spent his days in the peaceful province of Quezon to a man making lots of noise in one of the country’s most popular collegiate leagues, DLSU Green Paddler Jerald Cristobal aimed to end his last year in the UAAP with a bang. Cristobal pulled through, earning this year’s UAAP MVP honors, alongside the championship for their squad. It has been indeed a fruitful and dominant UAAP career for this young lad.
Cristobal began taking interest in table tennis as early as kinder. What got him hooked was the intense back and forth action that the sport possesses. “When I was still young, I saw how table tennis goes and I was amazed how the ball would go back and forth so fast,” says Jerald as he remembered why he was so interested in table tennis in the first place. In spite of this, it was not until six years later, when he was in fifth grade, when he actually tried playing the sport. “I tried it when I was [in] grade five and I found it really interesting, and that’s how it [my table tennis career] all started,” says Cristobal. At an early age, he was already set on what he wanted to do with his skills in the sport. Most people would engage in activities because of enjoyment, but for him, table tennis was more to him than just a means to enjoy. He saw this sport as an opportunity to secure a bright future for himself.
Seizing the opportunity
“When I came to realize that it will be helpful for me to grab this opportunity [and be able] to study in a place where I want, I committed myself to practice everyday and go to training to improve my skills,” states Cristobal.
Because of this realization, he started joining different tournaments, hoping that a collegiate scout from a good school may discover his talents and abilities. From representing his school in Quezon, he moved on to joining different tournaments around his province. After competing in a few tournaments, he then competed in the STCA Regional meet where he placed second. This proved to be enough for him to qualify for Palarong Pambansa, wherein collegiate scouts also took notice of his winning ways.
As a rookie for the Green Paddlers, Jerald couldn’t help but notice the difference between playing in the province and competing at the collegiate level, “I came from the province so the training was really different, and knowing coach Lauro Crisostomo, coach of the Philippine national team, I was really lucky kasi he is my coach now”. Just like any rookie, Cristobal always had a chip on his shoulder. He would always strive to prove himself to others in his skill as a table tennis player. According to him, he got even more motivated after Br. Bernie Oca spoke to the rookies during his time. “I still remember when Br. Bernie had a talk for the rookies [he asked:] ‘why are you here?’ Yun yung nagmotivate sa akin. Tapos parang from there, parang oo nga noh, why am I here? So nagtrain lang ako for the school tapos for my parents,” Cristobal recalls.
With this kind of vision in mind, Cristobal entered every match motivated, but with little room for doubt, “Nervous, but nandun yung eagerness to win every time I play the game”. Having been raised in the province, he was always humble when it comes to competitions. “It was feeling that I’m the underdog and my opponent is better than me so, every time I have a tournament, I just think that I have nothing to lose but they have something to lose so beat ko lang sila okay na sa akin,” he responds. But above all else, he is a team player. Aside from his talent and skills, his main contribution is the constant motivation that he gives his teammates every single day during practices and games. Even when he tore his ACL, he still continued to motivate his teammates no matter what. “For me, I just prove to them that I can do whatever it takes… Minomotivate ko lang sila everyday,” says Jerald.
Being in his last year, he wants nothing more but to do what he can to lift up the team. According to him, he would want to be remembered for his fighting spirit. “Never say die. Yung kahit anong lamang ng kalaban, kahit 10-3 basta hindi pa nageleven ang score, hindi ako bibigay hanggang dulo,” says Jerald.