All she wants is to swim for UP

All Mikee Bartolome wants is to swim for UP. Will she get it?

JUST A DREAM. All Mikee wanted is to study and play for UP. Photo by Rappler/Josh Albelda.

MANILA, Philippines — All she wanted was to swim for the University of the Philippines. 

But the university where she spent her high school years won’t allow her.

Now, Mikee Bartolome takes the matter to court.

Bartolome is seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from the court in the hopes of suiting up for the UP Varsity Swimming Team in the upcoming 76th UAAP swimming competitions, the young athlete and her father revealed in a press conference Friday, August 30. 

In a case filed Wednesday, August 28 at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 226, Bartolome is asking for the issuance of a TRO that will stop the UAAP from applying the two-year residency rule.

Bartolome, who played for University of Santo Tomas in the juniors division, is also seeking the issuance of a permanent injunction and the subsequent declaration of nullity of the new UAAP rule.

Fulfilling a dream

In 4 years suiting up for the Espana-based school, Bartolome amassed 10 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze medals in the UAAP competitions, winning Rookie of the Year in Season 72 while also bagging the MVP award twice in the UST Athletes’ Night.

But Bartolome, who is being represented by her father Vic, has chosen to study at her dream school: UP.

“For her college education, plaintiff chose to fulfill her life-long dream of studying and competing for the country’s premiere state university, the University of the Philippines,” the complaint stated.

“Now that she is primed to be a UP Maroon and a “Iskolar ng Bayan,” she hopes to bring the same amount of competitive spirit not just in the sport of swimming but also in her field of choice,” it added.

MORAL SUPPORT. Cayetano says she is offering moral support to the Bartolomes. Photo by Rappler/Josh Albelda.

Deaf ears 

During the Senate hearing on the new UAAP rule last April, Vic Bartolome already bared that his daughter wants to play for UP. 

Less than a month after, Prof. Ariel Primo Juliano, the Director of UP’s Varsity Sports Office, wrote UST on April 23, requesting that the university release Bartolome so that UP can offer her a scholarship.

“Hoping that you could possibly release her so that we could provide her scholarship and to ease the burden of tuition payment of her family,” Juliano wrote in a letter addressed to UST Sports Director Fr. Ermito de Sagun, OP. 

Juliano stressed that Bartolome has opted to enter UP because of its proximity to her residence. But because she will be undergoing residency in observance of the new UAAP rule, she cannot be given a scholarship by UP.

The complaint said the plea for Bartolome’s release fell on deaf ears, forcing her to sit out two UAAP seasons while also burdening her family to pay her tuition fee for two years.

Running out of time

With the UAAP competitions slated 3 weeks from now, the Bartolomes are running out of time in their quest to have Mikee suit up for UP.

The target for the release of the TRO is, at the latest, September 4 — when schools are required to submit their final lineups for the tournament set on September 19-22 at the Trace Aquatics Center in Laguna.

Fortunately for the father and daughter, they have Senator Pia Cayetano, a staunch critic of the rule, by their side. Even the support offered by Cayetano might ultimately not be enough to turn the tables against the UAAP and UST, but questions about this new rule remain.

And the league would need to address those — and more — soon. –

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