Dindin Santiago not giving up on PH team dream as she undergoes knee surgery
Dindin Santiago-Manabat is set for surgery on her injured knee and will keep her sidelined for six to eight months. Jerome Ascano

FOTON star Dindin Santiago-Manabat will have to give up her dream of suiting up for the national team in the upcoming Southeast Asian Games after she suffered a grade two MCL strain and partial ACL tear on left knee.

The 6-foot-2 spiker, who suffered the injury from an awkward landing during their match against Sta. Lucia a week ago in the Belo-Philippine Super Liga Invitational Conference, will undergo surgery on April 17 and will be sidelined for six to eight months.

Santiago-Manabat was named to the national pool that will see action in the 28th SEA Games in Malaysia but will now have to wait a little longer for a chance to represent the country.

“‘Yung national team naman, may 2019 pa naman pero hindi ko naman basta-basta susukuan ‘yun. Siguro may purpose naman talaga si Lord kung bakit ganoon po ‘yung nangyari,” said Santiago-Manabat.

The former National University star returned to action just two months after she gave birth to her first born Chloe - a decision that, in hindsight, admitted may be too soon.

“Madami nagsasabi ng ganoon, bigyan ko muna ng time si Chloe kasi masyadong maaga ‘yung pagbalik ko,” she added. “Sinabi nga ng doctor na prone nga ‘yung bagong panganak sa injury. Hindi ko rin naman naisip na ganoon pero andon na ako eh. Siguro ano lang, natsambahan lang talaga.”

Santiago, however, did not make an effort to sugarcoat her true feelings on how she dealt with her injury at first, admitting she got depressed from seeing her dreams of making the national team fall apart.

“Noong una low morale ako kasi kumbaga noong time na nasa high school ako, pangarap ko sana makapasok ako ng UAAP sa collegiate. So ngayon andito na ako sa pro, ang pangarap ko sana makalaro naman ako sa national team,” she said.

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“So noong time na bumagsak ako, hindi ako naiyak pero noong papasok na ako sa dugout, doon ko na naisip lahat kasi nag-start ka na ulit,” she added. “After two months ka nanganak bumalik ka parang nag-uumpisa ka na ulit, pa-peak ka na tapos back to zero ka ulit so parang sobrang na down ako."

As she deals with the stress, Santiago-Manabat said seeing her husband Chico and daughter Chloe inspires her to bounce back.

At age 23, Santiago-Manabat knows she has all the time to get back to the top.

“Gabi-gabi siguro five straight nights umiiyak talaga ako pero never ko kinwestyon si Lord bakit ako nagkaganito, malungkot lang ako,” she said. “Makikita ko na lang ‘yung asawa ko at si Chloe, kailangan ko na lang lakasan ang loob ko kasi hindi pa naman ito ang katapusan eh, push mo lang.”

“Pagkaopera ko, babawi ako at magpapalakas ako. Hindi pa tapos, lalaban ako,” she added. “Basta kailangan ko i-set ang mind ko na kaya kong bumalik, in four months or five months kaya ko bumalik.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinlozada