Photo by Roman Prospero
The last time we saw Dindin Santiago-Manabat on the taraflex was the 2015 PSL Grand Prix. Even while playing with and against imports, the agile 6’3” middle hitter still managed eye-popping numbers.
2015 was Manabat’s best season as a volleyball player statistically. She averaged nearly 18 points per game in Petron’s sweep of the All-Filipino Cup. The National U standout again led the Blaze Spikers in scoring and another Finals run in the Grand Prix.
Then, right before the end of 2015, Manabat reached another milestone, announcing that she was pregnant with her first baby.
Fast forward to yesterday when Manabat made her debut for the Foton Tornadoes just a little over two months after giving birth to Chloe, the 24-year old still looked in shape.
Although she would be the first to tell you that she’s far from the running-spike-thrashing, MVP-level player that she was.
“Actually, two weeks pa lang after ko manganak, nagtanong na ako sa doctor kung pwede na pa ako magpapawis – ano ang puwede kong gawin. Na-clear naman nila ako agad na mag-exercise pero naghintay pa ‘rin ako hanggang mga mag isa’t kalahating buwan saka ako nagbuhat at nagpapawis,” Manabat narrated, explaining that she’s slowly transitioning from light workouts to more rigorous trainings.
“Noong nagpapahinga ako, alam ko na talaga na hinahanap na ng katawan ko ‘yung exercise kasi nagkakasakit ako. Noong nagsimula na ako magpapawis, lumakas agad ‘yung resistensya ko tapos hindi na ako nagkasakit.”
“Pero, sasabihin ko ‘yung totoo, walang-wala pa talaga ako. As in back to zero ako,” she furthered. “Kaya ako nagpalineup ngayon para makapagtraining and, at the same time, makikita ko na agad ‘yung teammates ko at magagamay ko na ‘yung sistema namin.”
Manabat’s pregnancy, unfortunately, came at a time when the Philippines hosted prestigious international competitions. While in her prime she would have been a shoo-in for the Magnificent 7 locals that the PSL selected to represent the league in the FIVB Women’s Club World Championship, Manabat has no regrets for how this chapter of her young career unfolded.
“Sobrang sarap kasi ‘yung feeling ng pagiging nanay; ‘yung pakiramdam pa lang ng una kong nahawakan si baby grabe na ‘yung tuwa ko.
“Hindi ko ‘to ipagpapalit sa kahit ano. Wala talaga akong pinagsisisihan,” the 2014 PSL Draft No. 1 pick quipped.
The two-time PSL champion’s goal now is for baby Chloe to see her mom in her peak dominant form.
“Si baby talaga ‘yung inspiration ko ngayon. Gusto kong makita niya akong sa pinakamataas kong kundisyon. Gusto ko ‘rin na makita niya akong nakakapaglaro sa kung anumang international competition na darating,” she closed.
“Kakayanin ko talaga para sa kanya na ibailk ‘yung dati kong laro o mas higitan pa ‘yun.”