For the past week, college athletes from all over the Philippines troop to Roxas City for the 16th University Games. It was the first time for the Province of Capiz to host the yearly event and it was the second time that Panay island hosted the said event after Iloilo City hosted it in 2009.
Unigames has for the past years has been one of the most sought after sports competition in the country primarily because of the participation of bigger schools based in Manila like UP, DLSU, Ateneo, and FEU. For the provincial schools, the competition is an opportunity for them to gauge their athletic prowess against the bigger schools of the country. For the UAAP and NCAA schools, the Unigames is way for them athletes to fine tune their skills and at the same time for schools to recruit newfound talents.
Since the start of the games last October 23, I tried to get as many information on the web about venues, schedules and participating teams. After hours of googling all the information about the games, I got very little information. It’s kinda disappointing that at this age of information technology, it seems that organizers don’t really care of posting information about the games on the web. I pretty sure that fans, media personnel and bloggers would troop down to Roxas City in order to watch and even cover the games.
For the past years, volleyball has become a popular sport in the country due to the Shakey’s V League. Collegiate teams like Ateneo, La Salle, UST and FEU have created rivalries that made the sport very popular. Though the players are student athletes themselves, they have become a household name. Who does not know Rachel Anne Daquis, Aiza Maizo, Paneng Mercado, Fille Cainglet and others?
Last Friday, I finally decided to go to Roxas City to watch the volleyball tournament. It was a 2 1/2 ride from Iloilo City. Upon arriving in Roxas City, I went straight to Filamer Christian College to watch the games but only to be told that Semi-Finals and Finals will be held in Pan-ay Capiz. Without wasting my time, I hired a tricycle driver and paid 70 pesos to reach Pan-ay, Capiz. After a 20 minute ride, I arrived at the Multi-Purpose Center and saw hundreds of people watching the UST-NU match. The first thing that I ask myself is that is this really Unigames or a barangay league? The atmosphere was good but it was what I expected considering that I’ve seen how Central Philippine University hosted in 2009. The only good thing about the tournament was that they were using taraflex flooring which was comfortable for athletes to play. Nevertheless I watched the games from 10 am to 5 pm. The games were of high-caliber. NU pushed UST into 5 sets. FEU showed why they are one of the best teams in the country by demolishing USLS in straight sets.
In the women’s side, CPU challenged USLS but bowed down in 4 sets. I think the Lady Stingers experience gave them an upper hand over the Jovelyn Gonzaga led CPU team. I pity Jovelyn Gonzaga because she really wanted to win and during the whole match, she showed why a lot of schools wanted her to be in their volleyball program. Power, dig, defense, blocking — she has it all. If only the CPU team have 2 other solid spikers who can support Jovelyn Gonzaga then probably they have a chance of winning it. On the other semi-finals between Adamson and UP, I only saw the 1st set. The beginning of the first set was already a bad omen for the UP team when their ace setter Joyce Palad got injured. This made the whole team in total disarray since their 2 other setters were not available to play at that time. Adamson won in straight sets.
By 530 pm, I have to leave the Pan-ay and catch the 6pm bus ride for Iloilo. Accidentally, I saw my classmate, Patrick, who was also at the venue together with her sister watching the games. So we took a tricylce headed to Roxas City and the rains fell hard. We were all wet and have no choice but to catch the last bus. While riding the tricycle, I was thinking of staying in Roxas and continue watching the games the following day. Unfortunately, I don’t have extra clothes so if I stayed, I have to buy new shirt and shorts in Gaisano plus have to find a place to stay. Considering the expenses and the discomfort that I will endure by staying for additional day, I decided to go home instead.
I had some reservations with how the host school and province organized this year’s unigames. So here are my views:
1. The host school should make some work on using the web to give information for those who would like to watch the games. Blogs are free and they can use it just like what Silliman University did last year. Remember, there are those who would buy airplane tickets just to watch the games. So putting a website, a blog, a facebook page or even a twitter account for all the updates on the games will be a big help.
2. The venues are scattered all over the city. This is really a pain in the ass for those who would like to watch as many games as possible. Di siya feasible, imagine the volleyball tournament was located 30 minutes outside of the city. Good thing if you have a car but take note, Capiz is a rural area so the easiest form of transportation there is tricycle. In 2009, when CPU hosted the Unigames, it has a fiesta vibe not to mention majority of the games were held in the campus. Upon entering the CPU campus, there are so many things going on so when you’re in the media or a blogger, you have a lot of things that you can cover. Purisima should learn a thing or two about hosting a major event in the modern era.
3. With the hosting of the Unigames be a permanent fixture in Panay-Negros area as planned by the PSC, Iloilo, Bacolod and Dumaguete should host the event on a regular basis. These cities have access to large campuses, decent venues and logistics. Since it is located at the central part of the country, i think it’s going to be a win-win situation for all schools who would like to participate.
4. as for other observations— check Ricky Olivares blog about his experience coz I think everyone will agree about it. Click the LINK.
I have to say that despite the lapses of the organizing committee, I must say that I’m happy to see the quality of games and how provincial schools have improved their level of competitiveness against the bigger schools in Manila. As for next year’s unigames, I will definitely stay longer to watch as many games as possible.