DINDIN Santiago-Manabat seeks to bring her fruitful Japan V.Premier League experience to Foton’s Philippine Superliga Grand Prix campaign and for the women’s national team in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
After seven months of training and playing for Toray Arrows in Japan’s prestigious volleyball club league, Manabat, unexpectedly, went home to the country even though the tournament is still running until April with her team holding a 13-7 win-loss record.
Although she refused to disclose the reason of her sudden return, the 6-foot-2 middle blocker expressed her gratitude for the wonderful experience she had focusing on volleyball for the past seven months.
“Marami naman akong natutunan like sa blockings, 'yung disiplina nila. Nabubuhay sila sa volleyball,” Manabat said. “Gigising ka sa umaga, volleyball. Matutulog ka dahil napagod ka sa volleyball. Wala silang extracurricular kundi volleyball. Wala silang lovelife, wala silang family kundi volleyball. 'Yun na pinakapamilya nila.”
Now that she is back in her home soil, Manabat is not closing her door from learning as she only had three points in her first game back for Foton losing in three sets to Petron on Tuesday at the Arena in San Juan City.
“Siyempre, nakatingin pa rin ako sa future. Willing naman ako na matuto pa,” the former National University star said.
As part of the 22-woman pool for the SEAG from November 30 to December 10 in the Philippines, Manabat is also seeking to bring all her learnings from Toray Arrows in contributing for the country’s medal hopes.
“Tinanggap ko rin 'yung Japan kasi mas kailangan namin 'yun para sa improvement,” she said. “Para na din sa National Team malaking tulong din 'yung nakapunta ka ng Japan kasi doon din kami nagtraining ng National Team.”
But right now, Manabat is focusing on helping the Tornadoes, who lost seven of their last eight outings, rise from the bottom place with six more games remaining in the second round.
“Sa ngayon, hindi namin tine-take as pressure. Basta, tine-take namin siya as a challenge,” Manabat said. “Mas gusto namin na tulungan 'yung team muna. Kung eager ka manalo, what if sa sobrang gigil mo, mawala ka. Sabi nga ni coach na relax lang muna.”