By JOHNNY R. LEE, Ph.D.
Unbeknownst to many especially our younger generations and to those outside of this province, Tawi-Tawi youngsters, then and now, have been excelling in the game of volleyball. These particular sports have been considered as the ‘bread & butter’ of it’s people – likened to Filipinos’ avid affection for basketball.
The game or sports in volleyball was easily adopted since it was brought and introduced by the American soldiers during their occupation in World War II.
Because this sport requires very minimal equipment or materials ( a net and volleyball balls) to stage a game, it became so popular to the natives. Practically all the 11 municipalities in the province equally produced quality ballers. The game transcends all ages, men and women, adults and kids who are hands-on playing the game. The long coastal area of every municipality did become a playing field attesting to the rich talents who are skillful in playing the game.
The skills are translated into enormous benefits for the youths of Tawi-Tawi who gained ‘passports’ via sports scholarships to attain educational degrees in several schools and universities in the country.
The name ‘Tawi-Tawi’ has become a by-word and is synonymous to volleyball. It became a notion in most school campuses outside the province that when one is a ‘Tawi-Tawian’ he or she must be a good volleyball player! In other words the name Tawi-Tawi had become a ‘trademark’ or a passport to gain entry and easy access to join varsity teams in any schools around the country.
This ‘generalization’ came to be because of the tremendous impact that our past and current crop of players who had been ‘outstanding’ in the national level.
For instance, Circa 60’s saw the prominence of Tawi-Tawians in the National Team line-up in the persons of the late Mandotong Jumianjang, Abdulgafar Hamdan and Nurbahasa Gadja to name a few. Lately, a native youngster from Bakong, Simunul named Madzlan Gampong is today’s number one spiker of UAAP Men’s Volleyball title-holder National University in Metro Manila. His predecessor Al-Nakran ‘Ran-Ran’ Abdilla of De La Salle Dasmarinas is now ranked No. 1 in the Philippines and a regular member of Philippines Men’s Volleyball Team. He saw action during the recent SEA Games held in Manila. Abdilla is a homegrown lad from Barangay Suankagang of Bongao.
From the 60’s till today numerous names of native Tawi-Tawianshave cropped up from the lists of volleyball varsities from around the country’s top universities. Many still have been readily absorbed or enlisted in four branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines mainly for their skills in volleyball. In other words, skilled volleyball players have so much room for productive endeavors and employment even after they had passed their playing tenure as collegiate players. (DR. JOHNNY R. LEE)
(To be continued in the next issue)