After two long years without the UAAP, fans flocked back to the SM Mall of Asia Arena to witness the competitive return of all participating universities. Both the Men’s Basketball and Women’s Volleyball tournaments drew in passionate spectators that provided energy to games with cheers and cries.
But such experiences would be far from complete without DLSU alumnus and superfan Vicente Tee.
While the real name of the man fondly known as “Lolo Derecho” may not be known to many, his face and passionate cheers have become iconic among DLSU’s fans and opponents alike. However, despite Tee’s popularity, the story behind the Green and White’s elderly hype man remains unknown to many.
Back in the 60s and 70s, fans of the intense Ateneo-La Salle rivalry witnessed both schools battle it out in the NCAA, instead of in today’s UAAP setup. Tee shares that he fondly looks back on those days, as he never failed to watch an Ateneo-La Salle matchup during his college years. The alum also shares that he simply loved being around competition, especially when the Green and White would face their archrivals, which would sometimes include rumbles and fistfights—“things like that.”
For a while, Tee lost touch with his passion for supporting La Salle after graduating with a degree in Business Administration back in 1971. He details, “Since I went to the [United] States, I lost track of [my love for supporting DLSU] until I retired and decided to [return to] Manila.”
It was not until 2011 when he rekindled his support for La Salle’s men’s basketball and football teams. Tee further shares that he only started watching the Lady Spikers in 2014 because of a friend who loves the sport and introduced him to it. Despite developing a late appreciation, it was at a Lady Spikers game that he first took on a more active role among La Salle’s crowd.
He recalls that it was a UST-DLSU game which he watched with his barkada of fellow La Salle alumni. When it was clear that the team was losing energy in the matchup, “That’s when I started telling the guys, ‘We [have] got to pump this up.’ So I said, ‘I’ll say Animo, you say La Salle.’ Then I said, ‘We’ll just keep saying, Derecho La Salle!’”
From then on, he continued to cheer for DLSU’s teams and eventually built a following, with the La Salle faithful consistently recognizing Tee in the live games. “They called me ‘Lolo Derecho’…I don’t mind. It’s true,” he remarks.
After much time of animated support for DLSU’s sports program, Tee reveals that it was only recently that he made a list of his all-time favorite Lasallian athletes, many of whom were main gunners on the court for DLSU. He shares that some of his favorite Green Archers included alumni Encho Serrano, former King Archer Jeron Teng, speedy guard Kib Montalbo, and the six-foot-nine Gilas Pilipinas forward Justine Baltazar. Meanwhile, on the volleyball court, Tee’s favored players consist of veteran spiker Jolina Dela Cruz, along with other multi-awarded Lady Spiker alumnae such as Ara Galang, Kim Fajardo, and Dawn Macandili.
Animo back in action
After over a decade of dedicating his life to supporting DLSU, Tee again had to take a break from all the action—but not voluntarily. This was when the UAAP halted and eventually got canceled in Season 82 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It frustrated Tee that he would not be able to cheer on his alma mater, but he recognized that it was the best decision at the time and trusted that the beloved competition would return.
By the time fans were allowed to grace the venue, Lolo Derecho once again made himself at home in the stands of the SM Mall of Asia Arena. Nearly synonymous with DLSU sports, his ever-popular “Derecho La Salle” cheer made a symbolic return. “‘Wag nang titigil—derecho lang. Walang lingunan—derecho. Derecho [La Salle] kahit anong mangyari,” the passionate Tee exclaims.
(Don’t stop—go straight ahead. No turning back, just straight ahead. Keep pushing forward, no matter what happens.)
Tee shares that he finds comfort in the sense of community he found in De La Salle and tries his best to bring the crowd together as one. As a beacon of the Animo, he leads the way for those around him and inspires them to cheer on their beloved school, “Nakaganda na ika nga’y nakita nila na ‘Oh, pwede naman si Lolo eh! Edi tayo, pwede rin!’ diba?” Tee joyfully stresses.
(It’s nice that the people see me and think, “Oh if he can cheer, so can we!”)
Even after witnessing the passion within the sea of green and white in the stands, Tee still intends to amp up the crowd’s energy during games. He hopes to start a new trend, wishing that the La Salle faithful would stand up and clap whenever the athletes stepped onto the court during warmups—ultimately giving respect to the hardworking players.
Green-blooded for life
With La Salle fans anticipating new faces in the stands and on the court in the next seasons, Tee acknowledges that this era of DLSU teams will feature many young guns—motivating his desire to continue such efforts to cheer them on, “I know na ang [teams] natin [are] very young. That’s why I pump them up.”
As UAAP Season 84 concluded with DLSU collectively finishing third in the General Championship, Tee reminds the Lasallian community to “always keep the faith” and to “always have that school spirit no matter what,” regardless of what the future may hold. Through it all, keeping the Animo spirit will drive the student-athletes to do their best in bringing glory to the school’s name. Tee vows that despite his age, he will continue his mission for La Salle, boldly replying with his statement of affirmation: “Until I die.”