As the Creamline Cool Smashers clinched the PVL Open Conference championship and met the Ateneo-Motolite Lady Eagles in center court for the ceremonial handshakes, the Batangas City Coliseum crowd suddenly burst into a loud cheer.
It was louder than when the Cool Smashers won the championship point off a spike from hometown girl Alyssa Valdez.
They were cheering for Creamline’s Jema Galanza and Ateneo’s Deanna Wong, as the two partners-turned-opponents hugged it out after a grueling series.
In a time when the LGBT community still meets a lot of negativity, Galanza and Wong’s relationship has been celebrated by much of the volleyball community.
While the action did get heated in the Finals, Galanza and Wong assured that everything was just a part of the competition.
“Wala kasi, players kaming dalawa, so wala na sa amin ‘yun.
“May kanya-kanya kaming team kaya doon kami naka-focus, hindi doon sa kung ano meron sa amin. Focus kami sa team. Okay lang naman kahit ‘di muna kami mag-usap,” Galanza, 22, told Tiebreaker Times.
“Actually, when I realized na magkakalaban kami sa Open Conference, sobrang ayaw ko.
“I hadn’t had an experience like that. I took it as a challenge. It was fun naman. Iba din ‘yung experience na makalaban si Jema. Asar-asar lang. Have fun lang,” the 20-year-old Wong quipped.
Wong adds that she was especially proud of Galanza, who won the tournament’s second Best Open Hitter award. Galanza shares the same pride, since Wong’s Lady Eagles fought bravely to make an unexpected trip to the Finals.
“I’m really proud of her.
Alam ko naman na this is their tournament. We’re just a guest. On the court, we don’t focus on us, we focus on the game. It’s out priority talaga, ‘yung game. After that, back to normal,” Wong shared.
“Sobrang proud ako sa kanya, sa kanila kasi talagang lumaban sila.
Nakita niyo naman ‘yung laban nila ng BanKo noong semis. ‘Yun nga lang [giggles], nanalo kami. Sana sa UAAP lumabas ‘yung pinakita nila dito,” Galanza said.
A lot of fans have identified with the couple and found respite in how they publicly display their affection. Wong and Galanza simply feel lucky that they can be who they are.
“Super happy ako na na-inspire sa amin ‘yung ibang tao, kasi I know how it feels to be afraid or to not express what they really feel. Hindi naman sa perfect example kami, but it feels great to be ourselves lang,” the Cebuana shared.
“We stay true to each other.”