"I AM more than an athlete," she says.
For much of her career, volleyball star Jovelyn Gonzaga has juggled her duties as both a corporal in the Philippine Army and an athlete.
Now, of course, with live games suspended and the nation in need, she's serving full time as a military frontliner.
“Simula [nung] nag-COVID, continuous pa rin ang duty namin," she told SPIN Life.
Her duties now involve work with locally stranded individuals (LSI), or people who have been unable to go home because of quarantine restrictions. "Naging busy lalo dahil nag-cater na kami ng mga LSI. Ngayon, nakatapat ‘yung duty ko ng 12 midnight to 6 am, so struggle na siya sa body clock pero kalaunan, naka-adjust naman na,” she said.
The 28-year-old Bionic Ilongga revealed that although their operations are now twice as hard, it’s their passion and utmost willingness to serve the Filipino people right that keep them going.
“Nakaka-challenge emotionally, mentally, and physically pero ‘pag once na mahal mo ‘yung ginagawa mo, hindi ka mahihirapan. Mas masarap sa pakiramdam na may natutulungan ka,” she said.
The Cignal HD spiker added: “Good thing na we work as one, balance ‘yung trabaho, and nakikita mo ‘yung commitment ng bawat isa kaya ma-i-inspire ka rin magtrabaho.”
Gonzaga also shared that her physical training in the army and in the sport had helped her a lot to get by with the amount of activity she’s doing.
She said: “Thankful ako sa training ko sa army kasi big factor siya para ma-survive ko ‘yung stress and toxic months nakalipas at haharapin pa lang.”
Her work in the military has afforded Gonzaga enough time to reflect on the tumultuous events that are currently rocking the country. According to her, empathy for kababayans in need that would actually ease the devastating situation.
“Life is really short. Tayo lang din at ang bawat isa ang makakatulong sa ating mga pinagdadaanan. Our compassion, genuine compassion, [is] free, kaya sana ‘wag tayong manghinayang ibahagi,” she said.
The 5-foot-8 skipper also encourages everyone to take the pandemic seriously.
“Mabigat na ang pinagdadaanan ng Pilipinas," Gonzaga explained. "Third world country tayo kaya para sa’kin doon tayo sa makakatulong at makakapagpagaan ng ating bansa. It’s time for us to step out and help. Personally, I think we should focus on prioritizing our energy on helping.”