After the cancellation of the second half of UAAP Season 82, many athletes were left half-baked, while some did not even have the chance to put their skills to the test on the playing field. With disappointment weighing on their shoulders, it surely was not easy to watch all those months of hard work and dedication waft into the air of uncertainty during these challenging times.
However, the end of their season did not mean it was the end of representing the Lasallian spirit for these athletes. The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly brought many challenges upon the entire country, and many Lasallian athletes have recognized these challenges and were inspired to take action. Though this season, some of the athletes will be unable to display their hearts playing the sports they love, they will be doing so in other ways instead—for something even greater than themselves.
StrongerTogether is a donation drive that Lasallian athletes have launched to aid families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Lady Tanker Ace Agustin emphasizes that without the support of the participating athletes and the Office of Sports Development, this initiative would not have been possible.
“[Lady Shuttler] Iyah [Sevilla] and I created a group chat with the [other] captains and we asked who was willing to help out. We were lucky because several other athletes volunteered to help us with the process, like making the [publicity materials] and arranging the in-kind donations,” Agustin discusses.
With the sudden termination of the UAAP season, these Lasallian athletes did not hesitate in helping out during this crisis. Agustin decided to take the initiative and lead the way for her fellow athletes as she now handles the financial aspect of their donation drive. “Since this is something new to most of us, we based a lot of the process on the other fundraiser that I’m a part of as well,” she reveals.
Showing the Lasallian spirit of service, the StrongerTogether team has found an avenue to give back to the community using the resources they have. By the end of May, the initiative had raised over P30,000 to support vulnerable families amid the pandemic, in partnership with the St. Arnold Janssen Kalinga Foundation Inc.
Being able to help out in the best way they can has “meant a lot,” as Agustin expresses, “Even if we’re unable to leave our houses we can still help our community by using the resources available to us in every way we can.”
Talent as fuel
There are also other projects through which Lasallian athletes have been extending their efforts to contribute to their communities during these trying times. Lady Batters Pam Conception, Nikki Fajardo, and Raisa Joseph’s work is a great example of these, as the three have involved themselves in an art commission donation drive called Adopt a Virtual Pet.
The initiative was started last March by two students from the University of the Philippines—Juniper Luz and Vail Joven. The latter invited her best friend Conception to join the initiative, who then encouraged her teammates, Fajardo and Joseph, to volunteer along with her. Together, they have been creating art commissions, such as digital portraits or online stickers, in order to raise funds to support workers in the transport sector who have been denied their usual source of livelihood due to the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). The workers they have been helping are part of the Facebook group, SuperTsuper.
After the implementation of the ECQ, the Lady Batters found themselves with free time on their hands, and with this, they wanted to put their time, as well as their artistic abilities, into good use. “Seeing how the pandemic affected several industries that require physical interaction to normally operate, I wanted to find ways to help those who have no means of income,” Conception shares.
Being part of a team, each of the Lady Batters have their own roles to fulfill in line with their initiative. All three work on the art commissions by volunteering to take them on when donations come in. In addition to this, Conception records and tracks all the commissions and donations in order to maintain transparency within their team. Fajardo and Joseph, on the other hand, also do their best to spread the word about their project. Collectively, they have been able to help the lives of many, and have been able to witness the gratifying impact of their efforts.
Through the Facebook group that they have, they are able to stay directly connected to the beneficiaries of their aid, and the Lady Batters relayed that they have received many positive responses from their initiative. “A lot of those in the [SuperTsuper] group ask for donations mainly to support their own families,” Joseph shares. “In some of the comments, I noticed a number of them sending thank you messages with pictures of them with their families.”
There is a sense of fulfillment that these Lasallian athletes feel from being in touch with these kinds of responses, and it fuels them all the more. Fajardo expresses, “It makes us want to strive harder in order to help them.”
Keeping the Lasallian spirit alive
No athlete would want to have their season cut off midway. Although they were forced to hang up their athletic gear for the meantime, many aspects of their athleticism still continue to shine through. Athletes are known for their team spirit, and these efforts and projects have brought out the best forms of unity, as Joseph states, “I don’t personally know everyone in our team, but seeing various people come together with one goal—to help people in need—gave me hope.”
It might be painful on their part to lose their chances at finishing the UAAP Season 82 on a high, but these Lasallian athletes proved that being of service to others can be just as fulfilling as, if not more than, receiving any award in the UAAP.
The Lasallian community has truly shown their hearts for service amid these trying times, and their efforts have brought them a strong sense of fulfillment. As Agustin puts it, “In school, we’re taught to be of service to others, and we’re just happy that we can live out our Lasallian values in any way we can.”