On September 19, 16 years ago, my son Gabriel went to heaven. He was born with a rare chromosomal disorder called trisomy 13.
It is with much heartache that I came across the recent decision of the UAAP board about the residency requirements.
I was 15 when I entered the University of the Philippines as a college freshman. Everything was strange and new to me. I hardly knew anyone. But one thing I did know is that I wanted to play volleyball. I was a passionate albeit unskilled high school volleyball player who dreamt of playing serious volleyball. I thought I was good, but when I saw the UP team play, I knew I was out of my league. I tried out for team. The first day alone almost made me quit. I was simply in awe of the skill, endurance, and dedication of the team. I thought I would never reach their playing level. I felt like I was watching goddesses play.
The level of playing was nothing like I had experienced in high school. To be accepted in the team and eventually play in the UAAP is something I will forever be proud. I trained hard. In my second year, I was invited to try-out for the national team . That same year, my UP team won the UAAP Volleyball championship. I started training both with the Philippine team and my UP team in my third year. And at the age of 17, I competed in my first international competition as a member of the Philippine team.
Fast forward to today , I am still an athlete – no longer a volleyball player, but a triathlete. I swim, I bike, I run. I am a competitive age-grouper. I join international competitions and still proudly represent my country.
Just last week, I won for the second time, a slot to the Xterra World Championships in Maui, the off-road triathlon championships.
I am also a proud mother of two female athletes who both play football, one in high school and one in college. The sport and the college they go to is their choice. I simply provide the encouragement, support, and motherly advice they need from time to time.
It is with much heartache that I came across the recent decision of the UAAP board about the residency requirements. Below is my open letter to the board.
Dear UAAP Board,
Many athletes, former athletes, and parents of athletes are in an uproar over the recent decision of the UAAP board to require graduating high school students to sit out 2 years if they come from a UAAP high school and go to a different UAAP college.
Forgive my ignorance, but what is the 2-year residency requirement for other than to curtail the freedom of the young athlete to choose the college where he wants to study and play?
In the USA, transferring college athletes have a 1-year residency rest before they can play for their new school – only 1 year, and it doesn’t apply to high school students who choose to go to a different college. The 1-year residency rule requires an athlete to sit out one year of competition because transferring student-athletes suffer academically over time. The year-in-residence is meant to help the athlete acclimatize to the new school and adjust academics-wise.  So what’s your 2-year rule for?
A student-athlete’s choice of university is influenced not only by athletics, but also by academics, campus life, and personal situation , and the 2-year residency encumbers their freedom of choice.
In my humble opinion as an athlete, a parent of both a college and a high school athlete, and a lawyer, the 2-year residency that is currently applied to transferring college students, as well as any residency rule for high school students, deny athletes of their rights to develop their full potential. It goes against the Constitutional mandate to promote sports especially among our youth, and is an unreasonable limit on an athlete’s freedom of choice as well as academic freedom to choose which college to enter into.
Section 19, Article 14, of the 1987 Constitution states that:
“(1) The State shall promote physical education and encourage sports programs, league competitions, and amateur sports, including training for international competitions, to foster self-discipline, teamwork, and excellence for the development of a healthy and alert citizenry.”
Will the new rule help achieve this?
To excel in sports, one needs to be in constant training of both the body and the mind. Do you know what it’s like for an athlete to sit out two seasons? Athletes thrive on competition. That’s what gets us going. That’s what all the hard training is about. Its what makes it all worth while. To make an athlete sit out two seasons? That just kills the dream. Para sa isang atleta, para mo na ring sinabi na wag ka na lang maglaro. Is this what you want to achieve? Seriously?
I am against any kind of residency rule for graduating high school students. For transferring college students, the 1 year residency rule will suffice. Anything more than that is injustice to an athlete.
I will end this letter by citing a provision in our Bill of Rights against cruel and unjust punishment. For an athlete, this 2 year residency rule is cruel and unjust punishment!