People & Inspiration

#TheStrongSide: These UAAP 81 Volleyball Stars Get Real On Embracing Their Truest Selves

#TheStrongSide: These UAAP 81 Volleyball Stars Get Real On Embracing Their Truest Selves


We all have someone we look up to—may it be your mom or your mentor, your older sibling or your bestfriend, someone who can carry on well even after life gets the best of them, who never gives up, and most importantly, keeps on going. You wonder, what are their secrets? How can I be like them? Where do I find the courage to be that strong?

The reality is that strength is a mindset. You are who you think and believe you are, they say. It may be a cliche thing to hear, but it’s cliche for a reason. In partnership with ABS-CBN Sports+Action, Chalk introduces you to a league of supergirls who embody strength in their own ways—meet these eight volleyball players representing their respective UAAP schools, each stripping themselves off as they get real on who they are off-court. Forget their well-built bodies or tough demeanor. We settled the score when it comes well as their take on relatable, all-too-real issues that every young individual can identify with. As we open the volleyball tournaments of Season 81, let these on-court superstars inspire you to be on #TheStrongSide.

Michelle Cobb
DLSU Lady Spikers

Despite standing 5’4 tall, for a volleyball player, Michelle describes herself as “small.” But instead of letting this fact hold her back, this Lady Spiker knows better than engage in negative self talk. “I want to be remembered as someone of my own. No comparisons. Someone who came and pulled through," she wisely puts. For this 20-year-old beauty, it’s about embracing one’s self from head to toe, measurements and all. READ MORE HERE.

Celine Domingo
FEU Lady Tamaraws

We stare in awe whenever Celine walks in the room—tall stature, modelesque figure, and a glowing morena complexion. Her skin color, though, was a bait for ridicule back in her younger years. But she doesn’t let other people's words affect her self-esteem. If anything, it helped her tune in to what’s more important—accepting her natural look and being proud of it. “Eto ‘yung gusto ko, na isa akong representation ng Pinay,” she says. READ MORE HERE.

Deanna Wong
Ateneo Lady Blue Eagles

Let’s put it this way: this Lady Eagle is on the passenger seat, and passion is the driver on her journey along this road of life. Deanna is a firm believer in loving yourself and what you do, and it holds true whether she’s hitting the ball during games, taking breaks to recharge, or reconnecting with the people who inspire her. “When I love, I love wholeheartedly talaga,” she says. READ MORE HERE.

Eli Soyud
Adamson Lady Falcons

Fear often hinders us to reach our own potential. Eli, from the very beginning, put on a brave face and gave her best to shun the whispers of doubt in her ear. The 23-year-old shares, “‘Yung natutunan ko is you have to fight for yourself.” The strong-willed Adamson pride, from her beginnings as a nervous tryout to one of her school’s mighty contenders, has proven how courage can get you far. READ MORE HERE.

Isa Molde
UP Lady Fighting Maroons

Everyone walks on a different pace. And no matter how slow or small the steps you’re treading, it is okay. Life isn’t a race and what’s for you will come in its proper time. Isa just lets her toes lead her way—her go-with-the-flow attitude brought her to an unhurried state, letting moments unfold as they come along. It works. READ MORE HERE. 

Sisi Rondina
UST Golden Tigresses

If there’s anything that Sisi takes advantage of, it’s knowing exactly what she wants. Geared towards attaining her life goals, the proud Tigress is keen and has her eyes focused on the prize. Distractions are set aside and hard work and innate swag are at the center—a signature Rondina, if we may say. Her aura sends off a fierce and unquestionable faith in herself, and it radiates on and off the court. READ MORE HERE.

Gelina Luceño
NU Lady Bulldogs

“Don’t let anybody tell you you’re not beautiful. Know that you are,” this NU rookie firmly speaks. With social media bombing our feeds with the ‘ideal look,’ it’s easy to get yourself onboard of the insecurity train. But Gelina believes in self-love. Like any of us, there are at times when she still cares about how she looks, but what's important is that she consistently keeps her body issues at bay. Kindness to yourself wins.

Kath Arado
UE Lady Red Warriors

This Business Management major doesn’t shy away from her true personality. She’s proud to be ‘one of the boys’—she admits that the first ball she ever picked up as a kid was a basketball. But it doesn’t stand in the way of her femininity. Yes, Kath can be rugged and mannish at times, but this doesn’t make her any less of a woman. “‘Yung pagiging strong woman para sa akin, ‘yun ‘yung hindi ka matatakot na ipakita kung ano ‘yung totoong ikaw,” the  UE libero shares. READ MORE HERE.

There's certainly more to pick up from these UAAP volleybelles than their on-court game. Stay tuned for their solo features and learn more from these rising role models. #ChalkIsOnTheStrongSide

Photographed by Erwin Canlas
Creative Direction by Madel Asuncion
Art Direction by Mikka Caronan
Styled by Aldrin Ramos
Assisted by Daphne Aranilla and Sammie Rodriguez
Makeup by Janell Capuchino, Andi Sapina, and Jean Lim
Hair by Francis Guintu, Nikko Bruel, and Jhear Abellar

On the cover: Eli wears Forever 21, Priscol, and Charles & Keith; Sisi wears H&M and Forever 21; Kath wears H&M and Charles & Keith; Michelle wears Forever 21; Isa wears SM Youth, H&M, and Charles & Keith; Deanna wears Forever 21; Gelina wears SM Woman; Celine wears Forver 21 and H&M

Catch the UAAP Season 81 Women's Volleyball games starting on February 16 on ABS-CBN Sports+Action.

ALSO READ: Hot Stuff: 7 Women's Volleyball Players To Watch Out For In UAAP Season 81




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