Former La Salle star Illa Santos content to be hands-on mom, part-time makeup artist, and full-time fan
Manilla 'Illa' Santos played in four La Salle champion teams and holds the distinction as the only Lady Spiker to have her jersey number (14) retired by the school. Reuben Terrado

LONG before the De La Salle Lady Spikers became a household name, Manilla Santos was, undisputedly, the top Lady Spiker.

But years after her celebrated volleyball career as the face of the Lady Spikers women's volleyball team, Santos now tends to the needs of her own family as a loving wife and mom and helps improve the looks of others as a freelance make-up artist.

Santos played for La Salle in the 2000s where she led the school to four UAAP crowns. She also won MVP honors in Season 71, her final year with the Lady Spikers.

Hands down one of the greats in La Salle volleyball history, Santos also holds the distinction as the only Lady Spiker who had her jersey number (14) retired.

Now Manilla Santos-Ng, the 31-year-old La Salle legend, or Illa to fans, said she is enjoying her life after volleyball, specifically being a hands-on mother to his son.

"Nung nag-asawa na ako, stay na ako sa bahay. Kasi 'yung asawa ko, gusto niya magka-family," said Santos on the eve of Game One of the UAAP Season 78 women's volleyball finals between La Salle and Ateneo.

[See La Salle is coaches' pick to beat Ateneo in UAAP Finals]

On the side, Santos spares some time from her family duties to focus on her other passion as a make-up artist. Her clients include brides and debutants.

"Kapag may free time ako, I can get gigs during weekends," said Santos.

Due to her popularity in the 2000s, Santos said she sometimes gets clients who are also volleyball fans.

"'Yung iba, oo (nare-recognize ako). May mga clients ako na fans. Meron din akong Instagram. It's another way of communicating with clients," said Santos.

Being away from the sport for so many years, Santos admitted missing the sport at times, but quickly shut down any thought of a comeback despite volleyball's immense popularity.

"Volleyball will always have a place in my heart. Pero ngayon, iba na ang priorities ko eh. Hayaan mo na 'yung mga younger ones,"  she said.

But Santos stressed that she's defintely supporting the Lady Spikers in their finals campaign against Ateneo come Saturday.

"May nakausap nga akong player at naramdaman ko na nandun pa rin 'yung pusong lumalaban para manalo. I'm positive na magiging okay ang resulta," said Santos.

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