At present, Meralco is not just known for providing electric power for most of the country, but also for its prominent teams in the world of local sport. The company boasts of teams in all of the three most popular sports in the land: the Meralco Power Spikers for volleyball (Shakey’s V-League), Loyola Meralco Sparks for football (United Football League), and Meralco Bolts (Philippine Basketball Association). To provide information to the general public regarding these teams Meralco set up a single website called OneMeralcoSports.com.
In a press launch last May 20, the company through its Sports and Advocacy chief Ryan Gregorio introduced the portal along with coaches and some members of the aforementioned sports teams. True to the thrust of One Meralco Sports, we sat down with a member of each of their sports teams: Aby Maraño of the Power Spikers, Curt Dizon of the Sparks, and Rey Guevarra of the Bolts, to shed light into the program through their own experiences.
When did you start playing your sport?
Maraño shared, “Before ako mag-high school kasama ko ‘yung mga childhood friends ko, kasi we’re used to playing patintero, tagu-taguan, and all that. Come high school, nag-upgrade ‘yung nilalaro namin. Naging varsity ng volleyball ng respected schools yung mga childhood friends ko, so dinala nila ‘yung laro sa barkada.” The former UAAP MVP also shared that everyday after school, they would carry several hollow blocks just to have their posts of malunggay branches stand. She added that she once competed from court to court in Antipolo against men. “As in sir, walang ibang babae na naglalaro na katulad ko; kalaban puro lalaki. Talagang volleyball players din sila lahat, kaya dun ako nahasa,” Maraño stated.
The young lad from London (which is known to be a football-crazy nation), Dizon, started young in his sport. He said, “I started when I’m about six years old, just me and my dad. And from there I ended up playing 14-and-under. And at about 14 or so, [I was in] Crystal Palace.” When his contract expired with the academy, this U23 and senior men’s national team member went to Spain, before coming to the Philippines.
Guevarra, like Dizon, also started early with his father as his mentor. It also helped that his father was also a basketball player. The former NCAA standout said, “Daddy ko kasi basketball player din, so lumaki ako napapanuod ko s’ya. Lagi ako [ng] kasama ‘pag naglalaro siya and lagi din ako may hawak na bola kahit di pa ako nakakasali sa mga liga, tinuturuan na niya ako.” And from there, Guevarra went on to become one of the members of the Smart Gilas team – the former men’s national basketball team – before going to the big league.
How did they end up with Meralco?
With such talent, it is but natural for a team to be interested with these athletes. However, it was not easy, especially for Guevarra. The former Letran Knight suffered an ACL injury in his last year with his college team even before the season ended. After he recovered from ACL, he had a brief stint with Smart Gilas; and later he was drafted by Air21 Express in 2010. After that year, the athletic wingman joined Petron Blaze Boosters, where he won a Governor’s Cup title. Two years and two teams after, Guevarra has finally joined Meralco.
Dizon, on the other hand, was recruited by Azkals manager Dan Palami to come here. He shared, “I was in Spain at that time, a team from Division II – they contacted me then to play for Team Philippines. I played Division II for the next few months and then after that, I joined Global.” His former club was interested to get Matthew Hartmann, and Loyola wanted a player, so they traded these former U23 mainstays. That is how Dizon came into the Sparks.
Maraño started out as an employee of the company. The former De La Salle Lady Spiker admitted that a career in volleyball doesn’t last forever and that she needs to work with what she has learned during her four years in college. It was fortunate that Meralco has its own volleyball team. She also expressed her delight that some of her former teammates from La Salle are working for the firm.
How do you describe your team’s culture?
Dizon shared that even though he just moved into Meralco, he already felt at home. “It is really just a family,” he started. The young star continued, “It makes football easier. Everyone comes into the training happy; have a story to tell.” That atmosphere made it easier for Dizon to adapt to his current squad. Having members of the national team on their squad such as Phil and James Younghusband, and Britain-raised players like Graham Caygill, made the transition a lot easier for him. “It just reminds me of home,” he concluded.
“We are very dedicated to our work. Andun talaga yung first priority.” Maraño started when asked about her team’s culture. Maraño explained that they still go to work before going to a game at the FilOil Flying V Arena. She also added that most of them juggle time at work and training. Maraño described her teammates as professional when it comes to both their day job and in volleyball. However, when they step into the court, she said, “Hindi mo na mapapansin ‘yung stress nila sa trabaho, talagang ‘pag sinabing volleyball, volleyball lang.”
Guevarra on his part included the whole company as part of the team. He stated that, “Napakaganda ng team. Iba ang suporta ng mga taga-Meralco from our boss hanggang sa mga nagwo-work for Meralco talagang nakasuporta silang lahat.”
We all know Meralco, especially your boss Mr. Manny Pangilinan, advocates sports, what can you say about it?
Guevarra can attest to this matter as he was once part of Smart Gilas, a team established up by MVP himself. The Bolts guard/forward said, “Napakalaking bagay ng suporta lalo na sa mga players, dahil siyempre ‘pag maganda [ang] suporta mas masarap maglaro dahil alam mo nandiyan sila sa likod nyo. Mas nakakainspire para sa mga players.”
Maraño shared, being an employee herself, that one of Meralco’s advocacy is really sports. She said, “Kasama sa value ng Meralco ‘yung malasakit eh. Hindi lang sa customers, but to its employees.” The Power Spikers middle blocker further stated that even to those players, who are not members of its workforce, felt that they are part of the company because of the support of the management.
“He’s really generous. Obviously, he has big interest in sports,” Dizon said about MVP. The Sparks striker added, “I personally appreciate [this]. He has given us the opportunity to do what we love, so everyone here just wants to thank him for all he’s done for us.”
With the launch of their own sports site, Meralco aims to promote its company, specifically, its sports teams to its members and to the general public to aid in promoting its advocacy – to inspire younger generations of Filipinos get into sports. This could be a start that could spark more light and power to the country’s future.
Want to learn more about the Meralco sports teams and players? Want to know their next games and other events? Visit their site: www.onemeralcosports.com