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(C) Joaqui Flores/UAAP Season 86 Media Team


Best friends Belen, Pepito aspire to bring pride to their elementary alma mater

The friendship between Bella Belen and Detdet Pepito, despite their schools’ rivalry from high school extending into college, is one to admire.

Belen is a product of Nazareth School of National University and now leads the Lady Bulldogs.

Pepito, on the other hand, came from University of Santo Tomas High School before becoming the captain of the Golden Tigresses.

Their squads faced each other on the biggest stage of all – the UAAP Season 86 Finals.

Belen’s NU eventually won the championship after sweeping Pepito’s UST in two games, capped by a four-set win last May 15.

Now known to many, their friendship became one of the exciting storylines in this year’s title series. The two were teammates when they were studying at Lucas Pascual Memorial Elementary School in Quezon City, and that was where it all began.

Even though they went on different paths, they still found themselves entangled with each other as their high schools – NUNS and UST – became one of the biggest rivalries in the secondary ranks.

And now we are here. Belen and Pepito just became nemeses on the court, but still best friends off it.

Almost an hour after all the celebration on the NU side and the crying on the UST side, the two reconciled and shared a moment.

“Huwag ka nang umiyak. Hala, umiiyak na naman siya,” said the 21-year-old Belen to her best friend.

To which Pepito answered: “Gumraduate ka na para kami naman yung champion next year.”

Turning serious, the duo looked back and just took in what a ride they had been on – and what more could be in store.

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The two have also represented the country internationally, playing for Rebisco during the 2021 AVC Women’s Club Championship.

UAAP-86-WVB-Finals-G2-NU-vs.-UST-Bella-Belen-0090 Best friends Belen, Pepito aspire to bring pride to their elementary alma mater News NU UAAP UST Volleyball  - philippine sports news

(C) Joaqui Flores/UAAP Season 86 Media Team

“Sobrang saya lang kasi may nakaka-appreciate sa amin. Kasi matagal na kaming magkasama ni Detdet eh, yun nga since elementary, so kilala ko na yung self niya, yung baho niya, yung budhi niya,” said Belen, who just won her second league MVP award.

“Sobrang saya lang kasi nagharap kami sa Finals. Hindi man kami naging teammate, pero at least nagtapat kami. And talagang nakita ko binigay niya yung best niya, na talagang nakita ko kung paano niya dalhin yung team niya, kasi siya yung team captain,” added the Season 86 1st Best Outside Spiker.

“Hindi naman siya ganyan nung elementary kami. Actually team captain din namin siya nung elementary kami, bakla masungit yan, mataray yan. Lagi kaming pinapagalitan niyan talaga, kapag parusa, parusa,” she continued, of course injecting some fun into the interview.

Pepito, also 21, hoped to have made the people who guided them to become the persons they are today proud.

The 5-foot-2 defensive specialist just racked up her second straight Best Libero award in the collegiate division after also winning four straight such recognitions back in high school.

“Sana proud yung talagang nagtiyaga sa amin nung elementary, kasi nung elementary ako hindi ko inexpect na maglalaro tayo sa ganitong university ba,” said the UST captain.

For now, it remains to be seen if that was the last time the two will face each other in the UAAP setting. Belen is a graduating Psychology student, but is open to returning to NU since she still has two more years of eligibility left.

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Still, amid all the uncertainty, one thing is for sure: Belen and Pepito are part of Philippine volleyball’s bright future.

UAAP-86-WVB-BERNADETT-PEPITO-5169 Best friends Belen, Pepito aspire to bring pride to their elementary alma mater News NU UAAP UST Volleyball  - philippine sports news

(C) Julius Domondon/UAAP Season 86 Media Team

“Nagbunga naman lahat and proud din ako kay Belen,” said Pepito.

“Sana pagpatuloy lang natin yung passion natin sa paglalaro ng volleyball. Huwag tayo mapagod sa pag-pursue ng dream natin.”

Written By

Just a kid from Cavite trying to make a difference.

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