POV: It’s 2023 and girls are slaying it everywhere—in business, in sports, in entertainment, you name it. (Michelle Yeoh vibes, yo!) This Women’s Month, SM puts the spotlight on five of the top female athletes of National University (NU), particularly the stars of the NU Lady Bulldogs Volleyball Team and the NU Pep Squad, who are giving us some serious #womenpower inspo.
We sat down with them for a quick and fun chat and walked away with some pretty cool life lessons… and loads of chika!
“[What makes me a strong woman] is being myself. Hindi ko need mag-please ng ibang tao.” —Bella
NU Women’s Volleyball Team player Michaela Belen may be living the dream as a popular college athlete, but she says she's not exempt from judgment and false assumptions. Case in point: She claims many are surprised to know that she wants to be a dentist. “Kala nila na dahil player ka, hindi ka nag-aaral… na hindi ka pumapasok, puro ka paglalaro,” she says. Wrong! In fact, she needs to maintain good grades in order to play for the UAAP.
Lucky for her, she has a shrug-it-off attitude when it comes to critics. “Pinapakita ko lang kung ano ako, kung sino ako, and kung ano yung mga kaya kong gawin,” she says. Amen, girl. Amen.
“If kaya mo naman mag smile kahit may pinagdadaanan ka… and it's for free, then why not?” —Coach Ghika
As NU Pep Squad’s longtime coach, Ghicka Christoff has the tricky job of not only training the girls to be their best, but also keeping them motivated even through tough times. One way she does it? By being their source of good vibes, even when she herself is going through a hard time. “Kahit may challenges [din ako, a smile] is the only thing that I [can] share with everyone,” she says “If ma-e-enlighten ko yung araw nila, if ma-mo-motivate ko sila through my smile, ba’t ko yun ipagkakait sa ibang tao?”
She also stresses that it’s okay not to be okay, and that tumbles and falls are inevitable—in sports and in life. “Okay lang na matalo. Siguro way na din yun ni Lord na ‘oh, kailangan matuto ka pa, kailangan may aralin ka pa.” She adds that mistakes are also there to teach us not to be too complacent or overconfident. “If you failed once, just keep on trying.”
“Iniisip nila kapag babae, mahina—they can’t do sports. [Pero] kaya ng babae.” —Jen
When asked what she loves about excelling in a competitive sport, UAAP Best Libero awardee Jennifer Nierva says it’s how she’s able to change people’s mindsets about women: “What I really love [about playing] is nababago ko yung mindset ng ibang tao about women.” She also wants to inspire younger girls and have them see sports as a way towards big opportunities. “Through volleyball, I was able to help my family [because of the] free education,” she shares. “They were able to save because they don’t have to worry about my allowances.”
A self-confessed #strongwoman, Jennifer says she credits who she is to another alpha female, her mother. “Nakita ko kung gaano sya ka-strong as a woman and as a mother. She really inspires me… and siya rin yung pinanghahawakan ko,” she says.
“Palagi kang maniwala sa sarili mo kasi hindi nilang ibibigay ang role na hindi mo kaya.” —Vigie
NU Pep Squad’s Vigie Ann Calleja started cheerdancing when she was 16 years old. ICYDK: She’s actually the youngest of five sisters, who are all highly skilled gymnasts-turned-cheerleaders. But while the pressure to live up to her sisters’ achievements is real, she uses it as motivation instead. “Having a positive attitude [is how I empower myself],” she says. “Siyempre hindi lang po para sa sarili ko. Para din po sa ibang babae na katulad ko.”
And when self-doubt creeps in, she shares that her coach taught her some simple but sound advice: Just believe in yourself kasi kaya mo yan, girl!
Want more femme-fueled inspiration? Round up the gang and head to SM this Women's Month: Support female entrepreneurs at the Womenpreneur Market, indulge in self-care at the Women’s Wellness Sale, and reward yourself with our fab offers and treats all month long!
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