JERSEY STORY: Mela Tunay's real devotion to idol Aiza Maizo inspires her to wear No. 8
Former UST star Aiza Maizo is Mela Tunay's childhood idol. Dante Peralta 

THEY'RE more than mere numbers, and there's more to them than meets the eye.

From important dates in their lives to lucky numbers to a happy coincidence, there's usually a compelling story behind the numbers your favorite players wear on their backs.

And more often that not, these stories will either surprise you or make you feel closer to your sports heroes.

Here's No. 12 of our Jersey Story Series:

THE former fan is now living her dream.

University of Santo Tomas stalwart Mela Tunay bared two major reasons why she wears jersey No. 8 for the Tigresses.

The No. 8 represents her birthday, according to the incoming fifth-year player, and at the same time, serves as her link to longtime idol and former UST star Aiza Maizo.

 “Well it's my birthday kasi, June 8 ako, plus ‘yung fantard levels ko kay Nang Aiza ang lala talaga,” she told

The outspoken Marketing Communication post-graduate student recalled envisioning herself to be Maizo from the time her high school class did a project at St. Paul, Makati.

“May project ako noon na kinabit ko ulo ko sa katawan ni Nang,” she recalled.

“Sabi kasi, ‘Who do you want to be in the future?’ So mga kaklase ko, kinabit mukha nila sa mga doctor, businessman. Pero ako, sabi ko one day magiging ako ‘yan, naka UST jersey na number 8,” she said.

Tunay shared she’s no different from other fans.

To this day, she cries whenever she sees the former UST team captain, cried for joy when she first talked to ger idol over the phone, and she shed tears when she first saw Maizo play.

“Malala (ang fantard level ko) umiiyak ako pag nakikita ko siya,” she confessed. “Tapos second year ako talo kami sa Ateneo, depressed ako. Tinawagan nila (teammates ko) si Nang at pinakausap sakin, umiyak ako bigla.”

“At ang malala dyan, nakasama ko na siya maglaro so akala ko na-overcome ko na, tapos noong nag-Tuguegarao kami last year, nakita ko siya naglaro, day, umiyak na naman ako as in!” she added.

After finally getting to wear the same jersey number as her idol, Tunay is now hoping for two more blessings to come her way and finally fulfill her dream of following Maizo’s legacy.

“So if ever, totoo na ‘yung dalawa sa picture. The jersey and the line (as Capitana), kulang na lang ‘yung trophy,” she added.

Tunay said she takes her mission to duplicate Maizo's success seriously, but admitted she can never replace her ‘Nang Aiza’ who is a three-time UAAP champion in 2007, 2009, and 2010.


“Actually kung iisipin, pressure talaga siya,” she said. “Pero naisip ko, ‘di naman ako si Nang eh. At never ako magiging siya. ‘Di ko na naisip ‘yung pressure na maging siya kasi may sariling pressure na ako as a team member sa UST.”

“At saka ‘di ko ever nakita ‘yung sarili kong sinabayan ang laro niya, sobrang taas niya sa kin, swear,” she added laughing.

Tunay has one last shot at winning a UAAP title but, and her ‘Nang’s’ inspiration pushes her to always strive for the best.

“Pero ‘yung drive to keep going, ‘yung passion na nagdala sakin hanggang fifth year ko ngayon,  ‘yun, inspired by Nang ‘yun. Pero pressure, ‘di ko na lang hinayaang kainin ako.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinspin