Basilan Steel Spikers eager to change misconceptions about hometown

Dec 3, 2021
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The Basilan Steel Spikers at the PNVF Champions League.
PHOTO: PNVF

LIPA CITY — Volleyball could be an instrument for peace, and bridge cultural, political, and religious differences.

The Basilan Steel Spikers had a winless Philippine National Volleyball Federation Champions League stint but they showed that their province is no longer war-torn and can be a tourism destination.

“Yung gusto namin ipakita maging inspirasyon ng mga kabataan sa Basilan ang paglalaro at isa na dito yung volleyball. Kasi nakilala na kami sa basketball [dahil sa] MPBL, VisMin Cup, so ngayon unti-unti naming ini-introduce din yung ibang events to signify na maunlad na ang Basilan,” said Steel Spikers team manager Dr. Arnel Hajan.

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    The Steel Spikers, composed of different Spikers’ Turf players, didn’t win a single set in all their three matches. But Esmail Kasim and Co. were able to put up a gallant stand despite their limited preparation of 10 days, of which only five had complete players.

    The Steel Spikers even lost its go-to guys Mark Enciso, who injured his ankle in practice before the tournament, and Jason Sarabia, ruled out with a swollen knee after their first game against Go For Gold Air Force.

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    “Nakakalungkot lang kasi kahit isang set hindi kami nakakuha, tapos parang mananalo na tapos hindi nakayanan. Sayang pero okay lang. Ang mahalaga doon lumaban yung mga bata,” said Hajan. “Hindi bumigay agad, masaya nga ako sa laban nila sa Go For Gold, yung second set at third set bumitaw lang yung mga bata.”

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    “Although we have good players, kung hindi lang siguro na-injury yung dalawang top gunners namin baka may chance (sa semis),” he added. “At least nakita ng whole Philippines na ang volleyball hindi lang sa Metro Manila.”

    Basilan Steel Spikers in action.

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    Basilan Steel Spikers happy to promote province

    Hajan was happy that they were able to promote Basilan through the sport, assuring the safety of their province for tourists in their travel attractions like Malamaui White Beach, Langgas Island Pink Beach, and Lampinigan Beach.

    “Gusto rin namin iparating ang mensahe na dati kapag sinabing Basilan, terrorism area yan. Gusto namin iparating na tourism area na kami. From terrorism to tourism,” said Hajan, who is also PNVF vice president.

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    “Every time na nababanggit yung Basilan sa sports, maganda diba. Masasabi ng mga tao na okay naman pala yung Basilan.”

    In fact, the PNVF, in partnership with team owners Congressman Mujiv Hataman and Governor Jim Hataman-Salliman, donated 20 volleyballs in Basilan’s 13 municipalities for the children affected by the war in its program called ‘Bola Hindi Bala.’

    “Those balls we distributed it to different municipalities yung may mga bata na affected ng war. Ang nangyayari, imbis na baka makita nila o baril, ang nakikita nila ngayon naglalaro through bola,” the longtime volleyball official said. “Ang point nila doon, imbes ang mga kabataan malulong sa masamang gawain. I-expose natin sa sports ang mga kabataan.”

    It is only the start for Basilan’s commitment to volleyball as Hajan sees a bright future for their youth once the country ends its war on COVID-19 since their local government unit has plans to tie up with PNVF for possible clinics and regional tournament.

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    “Ako personally masaya ako despite na nasa kalagitnaan tayo ng kadiliman dala ni COVID-19, yung PNVF nagbibigay ng ilaw. How much more kaya if out of the tunnel na tayo kasi nasa loob tayo ng tunnel ngayon e,” he said.

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    The Basilan Steel Spikers at the PNVF Champions League.
    PHOTO: PNVF
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