Jema Galanza was a key cog for Adamson University in her five-year stay there.
The 5-foot-7 spiker made a good account for herself in the UAAP, captaining the Lady Falcons through a major jump coming from a disastrous last place finish in Season 79. They then only just missed the playoffs by a strand in Season 80 in her return off a gruesome right ankle injury.
And there is no denying that Galanza, despite only making the Final Four once in her collegiate career, is one of the best to ever represent Adamson’s colors.
But not to anyone’s knowledge, the San Pedro, Laguna-native almost went on a different route. To Morayta, in particular.
Back when she was still forging her volleyball career, a then-12-year-old Galanza witnessed the Wendy Semana-led FEU Lady Tamaraws clinch the UAAP Season 70 Women’s Volleyball title four years after the school’s three-peat ended.
“Sa totoo lang po talaga, FEU po talaga dapat ako, kasi fan po ako ng FEU nung time pa po nila ate Rachel [Daquis].
“Kasi nanonood kami sa San Juan pa po noon dati, so talagang sobrang punong puno. Grade Five po ako nun, 2008. So nanonood kami doon, and FEU talaga ‘yung tinututukan ko nun,” shared Galanza in an episode of Volleyball DNA, hosted by Denden Lazaro and Anton Roxas.
Learning the fundamentals of the sport through her father Jesse, Galanza went on to become one of the best players in the CALABARZON region, even making the squad for the Palarong Pambansa.
There, her father met the late multi-titled coach Nes Pamilar, who was then handling the FEU program, gave Galanza the chance to train with his Lady Tamaraws.
“’Yung father ko, close siya kay coach Nes nung time na ‘yun, eh. Si coach Nes pa po ‘yung coach nung time na rin ‘yun, so ayun. Nakakausap po sila and nagpapalaro na rin po ako nun, so nakakausap ni tatay lagi si coach Nes,” said Galanza.
“Tapos nung second year na po ako, doon na ako nag-start mag-training sa kanila hanggang magtuloy-tuloy.”
But a series of events left the young Galanza puzzled about her future.
With FEU going into a different direction by replacing Pamilar with Shaq Delos Santos in 2011, Galanza — who already formed a bond with Pamilar — decided to leave FEU to look for another school.
And that’s where Adamson came in.
“Pero kaya pa po ako napunta sa Adamson kasi nung ga-graduate na po ako ng high school, nagkaroon ng problema sa FEU, kasi nawala si coach Nes. So nung saktong araw na ‘yun may laro din ‘yung FEU, bigla pong dumating ‘yung manager ng Adamson,” she bared.
“Kami naman po ng family ko, ang gusto lang naman namin, siyempre free ‘yung tuition fee kasi gusto namin makatapos lang naman [ako]. Tapos at least may matitirhan, may pagkain, and may sapat na allowance, okay naman na po ‘yun. Ayun naman po ‘yung offer sa akin nung Adamson, so sabi ko, ‘Sige! Doon na lang!’ Ayoko naman na din mahirapan na.“
Despite not ending her Adamson career the way she wanted, the 23-year-old has no regrets with the choice she made.