ALYSSA Valdez is thankful for the opportunity to be named as flag bearer of the Philippine delegation to the Southeast Asian Games - and grateful that Philippine volleyball is back on the international map.
“Maraming salamat po sa POC (Philippine Olympic Committee) dahil binigyan ng chance ang volleyball na makabalik ulit sa SEA Games,” said the 21-year-old Ateneo star, who is regarded as the face of Philippine volleyball today.
The pride of San Juan, Batangas is the first lady Filipina athlete to become Philippine flag bearer since equestrienne Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
Previous Filipino athletes who served as country’s flag bearer in international meets include boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, pool great Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes, and four-time World Cup champion Paeng Nepomuceno, among others.
The Ateneo skipper and UAAP back-to-back MVP was unanimously chosen by the POC executive board to lead the 578-strong Filipino athletes during the traditional parade of nations in the opening ceremony set on June 5.
Valdez was informed of the news by Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas, Inc. president and POC vice president Joey Romasanta.
The selection of Valdez as flag bearer comes at a time when Philippine volleyball returns to the SEA Games.
The country last participated in the volleyball event of the biennial showpiece when the Philippines last hosted the SEA Games in 2005. The women’s team settled for a bronze medal finish, while the men’s team placed fourth.