At the awarding and closing ceremonies of the UAAP Season 78, Rev. Fr. Ermito De Sagon, O.P., of the University of Santo Tomas, officially accepted the post as the incoming league president and as the hosts of next year’s UAAP, Saturday at the University of the Philippines’ Bahay ng Alumni in Diliman, Quezon City.
Outgoing president of the UAAP Board of Trustees and UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan expressed his sincere thanks to his fellow members of the Board, the student-athletes, and the members of the media for their invaluable help and support to the success of this year’s season.
Chancellor Tan remarked, “The league has raised sports consciousness throughout the country, which is its goal when it was founded 78 years ago.”
He emphasized the growth of volleyball, which has not only become a nationwide craze, but is viewed “also as a family thing.” Tan also shared that ABS-CBN Sports, the league’s official broadcast media partner, informed him that Game 3 of the women’s volleyball finals between eventual champions De La Salle University Lady Spikers and the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles performed well in the ratings and posted the highest TV viewership in the history of the league. He also commented on the growing audience in football, as evidenced in the huge crowd that witnessed the double championship of the outgoing hosts, UP.
The closing rites also feted the student-athletes who participated in various international tournaments and the year’s Rookies of the Year and Most Valuable Players.
The league also gave the spotlight to the Athlete Scholars, which are student-athletes who showed exemplary achievements both in academics and in their chosen sport.
The Athlete Scholars are Adamson University men’s basketball’s Simon David Camacho, Ateneo men’s swimming’s Axel Toni Steven Ngui, De La Salle men’s football’s David Angelo Diamante. Also awarded the same recognition were Far Eastern University women’s volleyball’s Mary Remy Palma, University of the East women’s taekwondo’s Karen Cells, UP poomsae’s Janna Dominique Oliva, National University’s women’s table tennis’ Cyrene Torres, and UST men’s fencing’s Noelito Jose Jr.
The biggest award of the night, however, was the Athlete of the Year. The league chose to bestow upon four extraordinary student-athletes awards as the league’s best of the best. Rio Olympics-bound Ian Lariba of the De La Salle University women’s table tennis tennis team led the awardees. Awarded alongside Lariba is also a former Olympian, two-time UAAP MVP Jessie Khing Lacuna of the Ateneo men’s swimming.
The other awardees were individuals who helped their teams achieve their UAAP finishes. Three-time MVP and volleyball star Alyssa Valdez of the Ateneo also received the award. Adamson University softball’s Queeny Sabobo was likewise named AOY.
Four performing groups from UP provided the intermission numbers. The three-time UAAP Street Dance champions UP Streetdance Club reprised their winning piece in this year’s contest to open the show. The UP Varsity Pep Squad, UP Filipiniana Dance Troupe, and the UP Dance Company also performed in the night’s ceremonies.
As a symbol of passing of the hosting rites, UP men’s athletics’ Fel Quetulio and women’s volleyball’s Pia Gaiser turned over a banner, which shows the UAAP logo with UP’s colors on top and ‘UAAP Season 78’, to Fr. De Sagon. The incoming UAAP president then flipped the banner to reveal the league’s logo with UST’s colors now at the top and with ‘UAAP Season 79’ showing.
In an interview after the ceremonies, Fr. De Sagon emphasized that nothing has been finalized yet regarding the theme and start of UAAP Season 79. The UST Institute of Physical Education and Athletics Director, however, said that the public should expect new things with the league.
“This is the season for change, so change is coming.”