“I started playing volleyball because of Alyssa Valdez. I was in high school then. I met her in person and it was such a jaw-dropping moment. She’s such a humble person, which made me adore her more.”
“I have found family in my Cardinals team. Everyone of us finds family in someone, in a group of friends, in some random stranger. It’s amazing how it’s possible to find some real connection with someone not related to you by DNA.”
Tell me about what it’s like to be an athlete and a student at the same time.
“It’s hard work. But I think there’s no hard stuff if you love what you do. You just have to have the discipline to sort things out, to make time for your school stuff as you do for the training.”
How do you capture who you are in one word?
“Big. I’m big in size, yeah, but I’ve got a heart that’s big, too. I’ve been labeled and have been counted out. People have made me feel like I'll never be good enough and that I'm not worthy of anything. But tell you what, the world breaks everyone and many come out with a bigger heart. I’d like to believe I’m one of those who come out with a bigger heart.”
Who is Belle when she's alone?
“I’m the remorseful type. I overthink things. When something’s bothering me, I keep it to myself most of the time, and it’s worse because I can’t shut my brain down about it. And sometimes keeping it bottled up inside tears you down, piece by piece. I guess that’s how it is for some people. The feeling of being miserable catches me easily but, hey, I move on easily, too. So I guess that makes it even. Somehow, I think that I strive to find happiness in everything I do and in every situation I am in."
You’re studying psychology. What does it teach you?
“That you have to understand where people are coming from before jumping into the judgment arena. In a society where everybody is quick to judge, it’s a constant struggle not to judge. But then again we don’t have any idea what people have been through or are going through.”
“The key is to understand people. Always. But I guess there’s a downside to that – sometimes you understand so much that it makes you feel like you can’t blow up because you’re supposed to be this understanding person who understands everyone.”
Your words on dealing with life's blows.
“Take it one step at a time. Solve a problem at your own pace. You’ll be fine. God knows what He’s doing.”
Photo by RENE PASCUA
Interview & Text by RONA LIN