MANILA, Philippines – Bea Luna's shocking death shattered the hearts of her teammates, close friends and coaches, who saw a lot of promise in the young national team player's football career.
Luna passed away at 16 years old as she succumbed to a battle against arteriovenous malformation (AVM) on Tuesday, May 26, that left her loved ones grieving for their unexpected loss.
National girls team member Mikaela Villacin shared that Luna was very determined to make the official lineup, but even when she did, the promising booter did not stop there.
"In camp, she cried in the room because she was so scared because she might get cut and then we talked about it and then in the last training before cut-offs, she gave her best," Villacin shared during an online special tribute for Luna in the Pinay Futbol Facebook page.
"Grabe talaga pinakita niya and hindi siya na-cut (She showed so much potential and didn't get cut from the team), then she was so happy, but she continued to work hard for the starting XI."
National girls head coach Rachelle delos Reyes, who steered the Philippine team to a 4th place finish in the 2019 AFF Under-15 Girls championship, added that it was Luna's eagerness to learn that became her key to securing a spot in the team.
The late booter even scored the final goal in the country's 12-0 rout of Timor Leste in the regional competition in Thailand.
"She tried to adapt to whatever position given to her without complaining. If meron siyang hindi maintindihan, she'd ask me privately. [She's one] of the best potential players and with her passion sa football siguro mas malayo 'yung mararating niya," said Delos Reyes.
(If she didn't understand something, she'd ask me privately. She's one of the best potential players and she would've made it far with her passion in football.)
Jorgina Ele, who is Luna's best friend in the team, teared up during the tribute as she recalled the moments they spent as roommates and becoming each other's go-to person during camps and competitions.
"Kahit na na-meet ko lang siya last year and siguro mga 2 to 3 months lang kami magkasama, I realized na solid talaga siya. I never wanted to lose her," said Ele.
(Even though I just met her last year and we were just together for 2 to 3 months, I realized that she was so solid. I never wanted to lose her.)
"Bea is a strong person who always fights to the end and I'm happy that we met. I wish that I paid more attention to her and I wish that all of this was just a dream."
According to one of Luna's seniors in Baguio City National High School Janina Arellano, she met the young talent when she was just starting out in the sport.
But when they saw each other again in a Philippine Women's League match in Cavite, Arellano was surprised to see she has become a member of the national team.
Arellano, who now plays for the University of the Philippines, saw Luna's toughness when she played through the day with fever in the Philam Life 7s Football League.
"She is a strong girl and a friendly one. She is a fighter! She can handle her problem all by herself very well. She can make the mood into a lively one. She knows how to respect the elderly. She know her limits," said Arellano.
"She is an inspiration to the younger football players. She is an angel God gave us. To all the people who don't know Bea that well, these are her true personality. Please remember her genuine smile as she goes to a better and peaceful place."
Eunique Bocalan, another close friend of Luna from Baguio, will never forget the young footballer's bubbly personality as it usually gets very infectious.
"After a few months training together, she asked me if she could be my anak-anakan (adopted child). I laughed it out, but honestly found her a little too much, but appreciated her fondness towards learning new things and improving herself as a person throughout the years," shared Bocalan.
"Bea would pour her heart and soul into a game even if the odds were against her. She saw light in everyone and is such a strong willed person who would never give up on you." – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.