MEET Christine Marie Bayugo, a diehard Ginebra fan who travelled for more than 10 hours from her hometown of Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur and went against her parents' wishes just to watch one practice of her favorite team.
Christine swore it was all worth it.
“Kinakabahan rin po talaga ako na magbiyahe na mag-isa, pero gusto ko lang talaga na makita sila (players ng Ginebra), kasi po sila lang naman ang happiness ko eh,” said Bayugo, who spent almost P1,000 for her one-way bus ride to Manila.
“Nahirapan po talaga akong magpaalam sa mga magulang ko, pero hindi ako magsasawa na pumunta rito para makita sila. Ayaw nga po akong payagan ng parents ko pero nakiusap lang talaga ako,” she added.
Bayugo, an admin staff of an Ilocos cable company and a staunch defender of Ginebra on Twitter and other social networking sites, also spent for goodies she gifted her Ginebra players. She brought Vigan longanisa for coach Frankie Lim and cookies for her idols Mark Caguioa and Chris Ellis.
All the tiredness went away the moment she saw Ginebra players in the flesh.
“Worth it naman yung (9-10 hours) biyahe, wala akong kapagod-pagod na naramdaman kasi nakita ko sila,” said Christine, on cloud nine as she posed for pictures with Lim and Caguioa although she expressed disappointment after she failed to have a short chat with Ellis, who immediately left the CCF gym.
“Nakakatampo nga si Chris Ellis hahaha. Tinakasan akoooo,” she said later in a text to Spin.ph.
Like most Ginebra fans, Bayugo remained hopeful that the team will repay her loyalty with a championship.
“Sana naman maging balik regalo nito sa amin eh pagkapanalo. Sana mag-champion na. Masakit kasi sa amin 'yung mga talo naming dati, ever say die nga eh,” Bayugo, who spent the night at her aunt's house in San Juan before going back to Ilocos Sur, said.
“Ang sakit syempre, sabi ko na lang, nagco-console na lang ako na babawi sila next game. Kiinakausap ko na lang sarilin ko,” she added.
Bayugo’s fellow Ginebra fan, Charmine Bauzon, was amazed at the fervor shown by her longtime cyber friend.
“Nagulat rin ako sa kanya, kasi bumiyahe pa ng ganun. Halos balikan. Ako hindi ko kaya 'yun. Pinilit niya pa kahit hindi siya pinapayagan ng kanyang mga magulang,” said Bauzon.
“Isa siguro siya sa pinaka-solid na fans ng Ginebra, kasi isipin mo nag-biyahe pa siya ngayon from Ilocos para lang makita ang players at makausap saglit.”
Meanwhile, a longtime friend of Lim has allayed the fear of Ginebra fans, saying the multi-titled NCAA coach is bound to bring the popular team to the Promised Land.
“Sigurado 'yan, most likely papasok kaagad sa championship 'yan. Seeing his lineup of players, it will fit his style. Tapos 'yung team discipline, he can really impose that, which I think is what the team needs,” said Ding Magadia, a college friend of Lim at San Beda.
“Giving instant impact to this team will be a tall order for Frankie, pero I think he can do that. Siguro 'pag pumasok ito sa championship, buhay na naman ang Ginebra,” he added.
Another of Lim's friends, Bru Zuniga, is also confident that Lim can duplicate his four championships with San Beda at Ginebra: “Basta sumunod lang sila (players) sa ipapagawa ni coach. Friendly naman 'yang si coach, mukha lang istrikto kung titignan mo.”
Watch a video of Bayugo during her visit to Ginebra's practice: