La Salle vet Melecio knows what matters amid virus crisis

Naveen Ganglani
La Salle vet Melecio knows what matters amid virus crisis
After returning to his hometown in Bukidnon, Aljun Melecio rediscovers his priorities



MANILA, Philippines – Like many collegiate student-athletes in Metro Manila, Aljun Melecio of De La Salle Green Archers didn’t waste time returning to his hometown as troubling news of the corona virus pandemic grew more rapid. 

Melecio, an incoming fifth-year UAAP veteran, flew with his brothers to Valencia, Bukidnon last weekend. Since then, they have spent most of their free time together as a family.

But Melecio, who’s expected to play a larger role for head coach Derrick Pumaren when UAAP basketball returns, is also making it a priority to stay in top shape. 

“I consult with my coaches with regards to my conditioning,” Melecio told Rappler. “I talked to coach Marlon Celis and coach Chappy Callanta already kung ano dapat gawin cause ang haba ng break at bawal magpabaya.”

(I asked the coaches what to do because we can’t stay out of shape during the long break.)

Classes have been suspended until the second week of April as Luzon has also been put under an “enhanced quarantine.” Several provinces in other regions also followed suit, with social distancing becoming a priority. 

Melecio spent the first few days of his free time in his hometown continuing to improve his skills and shooting with coach Ronald Salubo, his younger brother, and a few other collegiate standouts. 

Now that he’ll only be at home, Melecio will work on strengthening his lower body and core with specific workouts, including the use of bands.

But this has also been a period of reflection for the 21-year-old.

I realized na grabe yung naging domino effect na nangyari cause of the virus,” he said. “From basketball to business lahat naapektuhan especially yung mga tao na kailangan mag work everyday para maka provide ng pagkain para sa pamilya nila. I hope mabigyan sila ng tulong from the government or ng company nila.”

(I realized that the virus caused such a major domino effect. From basketball to business, everyone got affected especially those who needed to work everyday to provide food fo their family. I hope the government or their companies help them.)

Melecio and his family have made it a priority to follow safety measures to avoid getting the disease, particularly when it comes to hand sanitizing and washing. He and his classmates were also keeping in touch through their online classes, but those have now been postponed as the country – and the entire world – faces uncertainty. 

Scary yung virus dahil hindi pa natin alam kung dadami pa ito knowing na kulang pa tayo sa test kits but I’m sure magagawan ng paraan ito,” he said. “There’s more time for family bonding, yes, pero kung iisipin mo kawawa din yung ibang family ngayon na nahihirapan cause of this virus.”

(The virus is scary because we don’t know if the number of victims will rise knowing that we still lack tests kits, but I’m sure there will be a solution to this. There’s more time for family bonding, yes, but if you’d think about it, there are also families suffering because of the virus.)


BACK HOME. Aljun Melecio (third from left) trains with friends and family in Bukidon. Contributed photo


As Melecio keeps abreast of developments, he has also been focused on his task.

He’s constantly pushed by his biggest supporter and motivator, his father Jun, who has made Aljun focus on cardio to remain in trim shape. But as far as priorities go, basketball comes in second.

“For me basketball is not life; basketball is part of life, so siyempre una pa din ang family and health (of course, family still comes first).”

The first stage of the Pumaren era in La Salle got off to a good start when the Green Archers went 2-0 in their first pair of games in the PBA D-League, which has since been suspended.

Pumaren, a veteran coach who’s won a UAAP title, still thinks his team has ways to go before reaching peak performance.

Sabi nga ni coach na every league na sasalihan namin before UAAP will be part of the process,” said Melecio.

(As coach said, every league we’ll join before the UAAP will be part of the process.)

Both he and Justine Baltazar, a Mythical 5 awardee, are the only remaining players from La Salle’s championship team in 2016, when they were rookies. 

One – if not both – of them will likely be team captain. Like his close friends and former skippers, Kib Montalbo and Andrei Caracut, Melecio has been groomed to take over the role.

If we have to lift weights before the D-League game, gagawin namin yun dahil yung main objective namin is UAAP, hindi ibang league,” said Melecio. “Malayo pa kami sa totoo lang but nagtatrabaho naman kami lahat so we’ll eventually get there.”

(If we have to lift weights before the D-League game, we’ll do it because our main objective is the UAAP, not any other league. It’s honestly still far ahead, but we’re all working so we’ll eventually get there.)

When that will be remains unknown, and likely will be for the next few months. 

Until then, Melecio will stay ready – while remembering what matters in these trying times. –


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