Pride of Cagayan: Charo Soriano comes home

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines -- A homecoming.

Making her mark in UAAP volleyball in the Big City, Charo Soriano has become a familiar face for fans in Manila. Her on-court tenacity and charming looks have endeared her to thousands of followers in the past years.

And now, as part of an all-star Tuguegarao squad competing in the Gov. Alvaro Antonio Friendship Games here, the former Ateneo standout is returning to her hometown.

“This is a very good program by the provincial government and we are very glad to be playing in front of the people of Cagayan," Soriano told Rappler in an exclusive interview.

"For me, this is important not only for volleyball but also for the young people. We not only promote the sport in places far away from Manila but we also inspire the youth to spend their time in sports and not in vices.” 

The multi-awarded volleybelle is playing alongside fellow Ateneans Fille Cainglet and Jem Ferrer, V-League stars Jang Bualee, Sue Roces, Pau Soriano, Dindin Santiago and other volleyball big names for Team Tuguegarao.

College superstar

Before the Fab Five rose in popularity, it was Soriano who was the face of the Lady Eagles.

In her first year with the squad, she copped the Rookie of the Year plum before receiving the Best Scorer and Best Receiver awards 4 years later.  

Her on-court performances and modesty outside the arena have made her not only the pride of her hometown, but also one of the most recognizable faces of Philippine volleyball.

“On being considered as one of the faces of volleyball, I am very thankful for that. Wow, really. But I know that entails responsibility. I have to be a role model for the youth,” the 27-year-old Soriano, who is now part of her alma mater’s coaching squad, said.

Photo by Rappler/Roy Secretario.

With volleyball experiencing some sort of revolution in recent years, Soriano says that it was all determination and hard work that made it possible.

“The people who love the game, their determination and hard work really have made wonders for Philippine volleyball," quipped the daughter of incoming Tuguegarao mayor Jefferson. "It is a culmination of all their efforts for many years and I am happy to see that volleyball has finally become this big.” 

Life-long love for the game

In the ongoing Friendship Games, the crowd could not help but be overwhelmed to see Soriano playing again and wearing a jersey with their hometown written in bold across it. And whenever the crowd darling hits the ball, the People’s Gymnasium erupts with proud cheering.

“Volleyball is something I won’t stop doing. Whether it’s playing on the court or coaching from the sidelines, I’d gladly do it. Volleyball is in my bloodstream.”

Of course, as a proud daughter of Cagayan, Soriano does not forget to give back to her volleyball-crazed hometown.

“This is our way of giving back to volleyball and to our fans here. When they watch UAAP players on TV, iba ‘yun. Iba rin kapag they meet them in the flesh,” Soriano said. “To the youth who aspire of becoming like us someday, ituloy niyo lang ‘yan. Play volleyball. There might be barriers and obstacles along the way but don’t lose hope. Mistakes are not mistakes if we learn from them.”

Indeed, Soriano is definitely now back on what she considers her home -- Cagayan and volleyball. - Rappler.com