It’s not hard to fall in love with the Philippines. What we locals take for granted, foreign tourists are dazzled by.
Brazilian spiker, Rupia Inck wasn’t immune to the country’s charm. “Aside from all the beautiful places I went to – all the beaches and sites I got to see – I think the most beautiful thing about the Philippines is the people. I don’t think I’ve ever been to any place where everyone is so genuinely nice and warm. I really thought I was going to miss home when I went here but the Philippines turned out to be my second home,” she said.
Rupia was initially flown over to be the Petron Blaze Spikers’ import in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix. Although she struggled early in the season, Rupia, together with fellow Brazilian Erica Adachi, powered Petron to their third straight Finals appearance only to fall to a hungry Foton Tornadoes side in a thrilling three-game Finals.
With the PSL season over and having toured some of the Philippines’ vacation spots, Rupia was supposed to fly back to Brazil last December 12. But when she was offered to play in the Beach Volleyball Republic Women’s Open Tournament with some of her newfound friends, Rupia admitted that canceling her return flight was an easy decision.
“It was a no-brainer. I always wanted to play in beach volleyball tournament. Before I used to play just for fun with my friends in California, so when they offered me to play, I said yes almost immediately,” the former Brzail Youth National Team standout recalled.
Having never played competitive beach volleyball before, Rupia started practicing the rigors of the sport with partner, Bea Tan, just five days before the competition. With Rupia bringing her height and athleticism, and Tan utilizing her quickness and sand-court savvy, the duo dominated the competition, culminating their run with an epic three-set showdown against Alexa Micek and Charo Soriano in the Finals last December 20 at the SM Sands by the Bay.
“I still can’t believe I won a championship here. Everyone just wanted to have fun and give the fans a great show. I really didn’t expect to do this well. Credit really goes to my partner, Bea (Tan), who was very patient with me in teaching me how to play,” a jubilant Rupia said right after their Finals match.
Having lost in the PSL Finals, Rupia says she’s happy she can leave the country a winner. “Losing in the PSL Finals was definitely heartbreaking. I guess you really can’t win them all. But I was just really disappointed because we worked so hard to get there and I really wanted to repay the trust that Petron management and my team gave me. But in the end, I guess everyone was still happy with the season we had and the time we spent together. I didn’t think I was going back to Brazil with a championship after that. Just having this BVR Open and getting to play with my friends makes me so happy. I couldn’t think of a better way to end my trip to the Philippines.”
Asked if she plans to return, Rupia expressed her willingness to play in the Philippines again next year if ever she’s asked back. “If Petron wants me back, I’m going. I don’t care what I have planned or if I was invited to play anywhere else. If they want back or if I’m invited here, I’m for sure going.”
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