When Dindin Santiago-Manabat returned to the Philippines following her breakthrough stint in the Japan V. Premier League a few months back, she had one thing in mind — regaining her confidence.
After all, Santiago-Manabat barely saw action for a long stretch of time while she was still with the Toray Arrows.
“‘Yun nga parang minsan naiisip mo na, ‘Bakit hindi ka nakakalaro? Kulang pa ba?'” Santiago-Manabat bared while looking back on her first crack at the vaunted volleyball league in Japan.
And so, the 6-foot-2 outside hitter persevered the moment she made her way back to the fold of the Foton Tornadoes Blue Energy.
While picking up morale in every time she graced the Taraflex, Santiago-Manabat — along with her sister, Jaja — also shouldered the responsibility of leading the Tornadoes to greater heights, which she did in the 2019 PSL All-Filipino Conference.
The towering siblings lifted Foton to their first semifinals appearance since 2018. By the end of the tournament, the Tornadoes finished as the fourth-best team. Meanwhile, Santiago-Manabat was hailed the Best Opposite Spiker.
Now set to spread her wings on international shores once again, Santiago-Manabat — who confirmed that she’s been recruited to play for Kurobe Aqua Fairies — is glad that she suited up for Foton in order to regain her lost confidence.
“Siyempre bumalik ulit yung kumpiyansa ko kasi siyempre, sa Japan noon, hindi ako gaanong nakakalaro eh. Pero siyempre, iba pa rin kasi yung nakakalaro ka ng competitive na laro,” she shared.
Santiago-Manabat is set to fly to Japan on October 2, and she’s thrilled to continue her career overseas. “Super excited. Super excited pa rin kasi siyempre pangalawang beses ko na pupunta doon eh, and yun nga, ibang team naman,” she gushed.
Santiago-Manabat and her sister, Jaja are also bound to write another chapter to their sibling rivalry. The latter is already in the Land of the Rising Sun for another run with Saitama Ageo Medics.
But given their tours of duty overseas, the chances are high that the towering siblings won’t be able to reinforce the Philippine Women’s National Volleyball Team in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Santiago-Manabat, however, offered some perspective on how she and her sister are carrying flag and country in their own respective ways.
“Siyempre once nakalaro ka doon at nakapag-perform ka ng maganda, iisipin naman din ng isang tao na ah, ‘Galing ‘yan sa Pilipinas,’” she said.
“Siyempre nakaka-proud rin sa sarili mo na nakakapag-perform ka ng maganda, nakikipagsabayan ka sa Japan na parang iba. Iba yung dating, parang iba yung kumpiyansa na nabibigay mo at yung tuwa sa mga tao na naniniwala.”