Ricky Matrimonio might just be another fan of volleyball superstar Alyssa Valdez among a crowd full of followers, but a video posted on social media has changed everything.
Matrimonio has always been a believer of Valdez ever since her days with the Ateneo Lady Eagles. From there, he had always dreamt of meeting the well-renowned athlete.
“Kasi matagal ko na siyang idol eh, college pa lang siya idol ko na siya. Bilib ako sa kanya,” he recalled.
“Para sa akin super girl siya.
“Simula noong college siya [pinapanood ko na siya], [nu’ng] tinalo nila ‘yung De La Salle,” he continued. “Sobrang bilib ako sa kanya noon hanggang sa ngayon siya pa rin ang number one para sa akin.”
Last December 2018, however, the 50-year-old suffered a stroke. The light of his steep-yet-achievable dream slowly dwindled as he struggled to go out and about due to his unfortunate state.
But after a sudden turn of events almost a year removed from the incident, Matrimonio found his way inside the FilOil Flying V Centre as he watched Valdez and the Creamline Cool Smashers go up against Bali Pure in the last elimination round game of the 2019 PVL Reinforced Conference.
Keeping him company was her daughter, Princes Rina who recalled that a friend of her, a Motolite fan, gave her free tickets to the game.
As if things couldn’t get any better for Matrimonio, the match that he watched and chanced upon was not just any other game. After all, it was played on June 29 – the day Valdez celebrated her 26th birthday.
“Kasi nilibre lang kami ng katrabaho ko tapos hindi pa sila [Valdez and Creamline] naglalaro umiyak na siya,” Rina, who works in a Call Center, recounted.
As Matrimonio marveled at Valdez and tears of joy ran down his face, his daughter couldn’t help but record the passionate moment.
On July 10, almost two weeks after, Rina posted the video on her social media accounts. Within a couple of hours, the one she posted on Twitter ammassed thousands of likes, views and retweets.
And it was only a matter of time for it to reach Valdez.
“Hindi ko inakala na dadating sa kanya ‘yun eh, kasi pinost ko na rin ‘yun sa Facebook tapos wala lang,” bared Rina. “Tapos may nagsabi sa akin na i-post sa Twitter baka mapansin tapos nagulat ako na after isa or dalawang oras nag-trending siya agad tapos napansin ni Alyssa.
“Hindi ko sinabi na napansin na ni Alyssa.”
Aside from Valdez, other personalities caught wind of the viral tweet. One of them was Mozzy Ravena, who replied on the post with kind intention of providing tickets for both the father and daughter.
And the dream Matrimonio kept for so long came into reality Saturday evening.
After he watched Valdez and the Cool Smashers in Game Two of the PVL Reinforced Conference Finals, Matrimonio, in an emotional encounter in Creamline’s dugout, finally met his inspiration.
“Talagang idol ko siya [kaya ako naiyak], natutuwa ako na makita ko siya, sobrang tuwa. Masaya ako, sobrang saya napaiyak ako na napansin niya ako,” he cheerily said.
Though she was licking the wounds of a shock defeat to Petro Gazz, an overwhelming joy washed away every sense of sadness in Valdez upon meeting her superfan.
“Nakakatuwa, very genuine talaga. Na-meet ko siya kanina he was saying na he has been watching me since I was in college, tapos na stroke siya tapos hindi na siya nakakanood masyado kasi syempre nahihirapan din siya gumalaw,” shared the six-time V-LeagueMost Valuable Player.
“So very genuine, very nakakataba ng puso na may nakikita ka na ang gusto lang mapanood ka, gusto lang makita ka personal, not looking for anything in return, ‘di ba?”
On the outside looking in, Matrimonio may just actually be another fan in a crowd full of followers who have been captivated by the humble demeanor and awe-inspiring prowess of the volleyball icon.
But after the fateful encounter, he is now and will always be an inspiration for Valdez.
“Nakakatuwa rin na nakaka-inspire siya, pero para sa akin I’m really speechless and nakaka-overwhelm na nadadala mo sa mga ibang tao, wala ka naman ibang ginagawa, naglalaro ka lang naman ng volleyball but you’re able to touch ‘yung buhay din ni tatay,” Valdez gushed.
“So I’m really a fan of tatay. Ang saya, nakaka-speechless, nakaka-overwhelm. Sana ma-bless pa ‘yung mga kagaya ni tatay.”