AS she joined the National University Bulldogs in celebrating their first UAAP men’s basketball title in 60 years at midcourt of the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, Arlene Paguia-Royo proudly took out an old photo from her wallet of her late mother Leticia Jhocson-Paguia and brothers Sonny and Bam Paguia.
They are no longer around, but she knew they are smiling upstairs, proud and happy to see the Bulldogs finally reign as champions again.
“I miss my Mommy and my two brothers. I miss them all,” admitted a teary-eyed Royo, the same person seen on national television while in fervent prayer during the closing moments of Game Two of the best-of-three finals.
Royo’s family was the first owner of the Sampaloc-based school before the family of business tycoon Henry Sy purchased the school in 2008.
Her brother Sonny was the longtime coach of the Bulldogs at the time when they were considered the whipping boys of the league, while her mother was one of the major supporters of baseball back then.
Arlene and Bam, who died early this year, used to be NU's representatives to the UAAP board.
Royo, who once served as the school’s athletic director, said she never lost faith in the Bulldogs even during the time when the school seemed stuck at the bottom of the standings, believing one day NU will be back on top again.
“Alam namin na mangyayari rin ‘yan dahil may tiwala ako sa Panginoon,” said Royo.
During the do-or-die game against Far Eastern University on Wednesday, Royo sat next to Nestor Sapida, the only surviving player from the 1954 NU team that won its first and only UAAP title.
“Lucky siya sa NU,” said Royo.